Jesse Schaefer

Class of 2012
Major/Minor: Sociology

Undergraduate Highlights

On Being A Peer Mentor

To new students, Washington College is a massive locomotive, speeding down the tracks towards the station where they stand aghast on the platform. As the train nears, it slows just slightly, and the people on the train yell, “Come on, hop aboard!” The students stand bleary eyed and motionless, vision clouded from the locomotive’s exhaust. And now imagine that if this locomotive is Washington College, the Peer Mentors are the passengers on the train that extend a hand out to these bewildered souls and say, “Grab my hand, I’ll help you up.”

There’s no doubt about it, beginning college is daunting, intimidating, perhaps, at times even nauseating. After all, Washington College is a long standing and well-respected institution, a formidable locomotive speeding down the tracks of academia and a new student is only one individual being asked to integrate themselves into a completely foreign community, to “hop aboard.” By extending their hand, Peer Mentors ensure that everyone boards the train. Not only do we guide orientation, but we try to build lasting relationships with each of our mentees that extend beyond the first weeks of school. In these relationships, we try to embody the values of Washington College in our actions, thus leading by example.

To build these relationships we strive to be approachable, friendly, responsible, and reliable individuals. These relationships are instrumental in allowing us to monitor the students’ progress. We want to ensure our mentees are well-adjusted to their new role as college students. In order to facilitate this adjustment, we provide information about Washington College services, encourage students to get involved on campus, and help students connect with their professors and excel in their classes. Although our biggest role is to extend a hand initially, we don’t abandon our mentees after simply helping them aboard. We also accompany them to their seat, make sure they are comfortable, and introduce them to fellow passengers. Now that they are aboard, all that is left for them to do is to select their next stop.

Additional Info

A vision for social reform has shaped Jesse Schaefer’s hobbies, activities and career plans, and she had the opportunity to evaluate and strengthen that interest during an exciting summer internship opportunity she learned about through the Student Affairs Office. Jesse is co-chair of the College’s Service Council; at the recommendation of Student Development Director Beth Anne Langrell, Jesse applied for a spot in the Fund for American Studies’ (TFAS) summer program, The Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service, in Washington, DC.

Her participation in the program included residence at Georgetown University, courses in American studies, and an internship with The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). “The big attraction was the professional internship with a nonprofit,” Jesse explains. At NFTE, she worked as a program associate, aiding the organization’s efforts to provide entrepreneurial education to low-income youth through a “mini-MBA” program. She describes the two-month internship as “very intensive,” with work 9-3, evening classes, seminars, speakers and additional programs.

“The internship allowed me to study theory and then put it into practice,” says Jesse. “My immersion in the world of a nonprofit helped me to understand the values inherent in philanthropy and how it should be applied.”

Jesse’s internship with TFAS was supported by a grant from The Douglass Cater Society of Junior Fellows. The Cater Society covered her expenses for housing, books, food and transportation. Back on campus, she is now applying what she learned during her internship to her many campus activities. In addition to her work with the Service Council, Jesse is a student delegate to the Cater Society, and serves as a tutor and peer mentor; she also works in the Writing Center.

“I now have the tools to evaluate service activities and to ask whether what we’re doing is effective.” She also stresses the value of “local knowledge,” a concept introduced to her during the summer program. “This is the idea that those within a situation have a better understanding of it than a third party. We know the issues surrounding our campus, and therefore can best understand how to solve them,” she says.

Jesse asserts that her summer experience helped her to clarify her goals for a philanthropically oriented career. “My experience altered my conception and evaluation of philanthropy and, with it, my understanding of the history of the political system in America and subsequent convictions about how and what type of change to pursue in our society.”

Lauren Lawson ’11

Q & A

Hometown? Alloway, NJ

High School? Woodstown High School

Favorite place around Washington College? I love to wander around Chestertown on a warm day and look at all of the beautiful, old homes.

First year experience/advice? Keep in mind that faculty are genuinely interested in your perspective; stay engaged and they may have opportunities to offer you.

Superpower? My chosen superpower would be the ability to recharge my myself without sleep.

Favorite Class at WC? My favorite class at WC so far has been Creative Writing. It was tons of fun, but it also challenged my writing ability and forced me to reach outside of my comfort zone.

Recommended Professor? I recommend Dr. Kelty in the Sociology department. His classes are engaging and challenging and he supports you 100% of the way.

Most Memorable Experience as a First-Year Student? War on the Shore was a unique experience because as a small school, Washington College doesn’t typically draw large crowds to athletic events. However, the rivalry between Washington and Salisbury is exhilarating and works to unify the campus. Even if you’ve never seen a lacrosse game, you will get caught up in the electrifying energy.

If I Could be an Animal? I would love to know how it feels to fly, so I would be a bird.

One Thing You Shouldn’t Forget to Pack is? At least one dressy outfit, including shoes. You never know when you might have to dress to impress on a moments notice.