Destiny P. is a second-year UCWbLer who has worked as a Peer Writing Tutor, Writing Fellow, Workshops Facilitator, Receptionist, and a Writing Group Facilitator. All of her roles have given her the opportunity to develop as a student, mentor, and Best Buddy member. Below are her answers to some questions about how her work at the UCWbL has helped her role in Best Buddies and vice versa. Much like our previous featured UCWbLer, these posts allow us to get to know our awesome staff, but they also demonstrate that there is more to an UCWbLer tutor than meets the eye.
Could you explain your place within DePaul and your role at the UCWbL?
I am a Senior majoring in Cellular & Molecular Biology. I am dual enrolled in DePaul’s College of Education pursuing a Masters of Secondary Ed. This is my second year at the UCWbL where I have been a Peer Writing Tutor, Writing Fellow, Workshops Facilitator, Receptionist, and most recently, a First-Year Writing Group Facilitator.
How long have you been involved with Best Buddies?
I have been involved with Best Buddies since my freshman year of highschool, so this will be my 8th year with the organization.
What is your role?
I am a peer buddy who is matched with my friend, Leo. Peer buddies are paired into a one-to-one friendship with a buddy with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD). Outside of your monthly events, buddy pairs are encouraged to hang out, grab food, or go to the movies—just as any friends would. I have also been the Vice President for the last 2 years and act as a liaison between our DePaul students, our Buddies’ parents, and Best Buddies International. I help plan monthly events, apply for funding from the university, and check in with buddy pairs regularly.
Why do you do it?
I have been a part of Best Buddies because our buddies are some of the most kind-hearted and fun-loving people I have had the privilege of getting to know. Organizations like Best Buddies help to break down barriers, promote social inclusion, and stop the use of hate speech.
What is your favorite aspect of being part of Best Buddies?
The buddies. Our buddies are so fun and silly. Their energy is captivating and puts me in the best mood.
What type of activities are involved?
Best Buddies throws monthly parties where buddy pairs are invited to make crafts, eat food, play games, dance, and hang out. We also have a few annual events including Spread the Word, a national campaign sponsored by the Special Olympics to stop the derogatory use of the words retard and retarded, and Buddy Ball, an end of the year “prom” for our buddies who do not have the opportunity to attend their own school dances.
Is there any writing involved with that? What does that look like?
As a member of the executive board, I have written newsletters to our Buddies’ parents, created promotional boards and flyers, and drafted emails sent to the chapter.
How has this activity informed your work at the UCWbL or vice versa?
Creating promotional material has impacted my understanding of visual rhetoric, as flyers are intended to be easy to read, informative, and engaging to effectively recruit new members. This new understanding has informed my work at the UCWbL in terms of digication portfolios; I have become more conscious of font size, color pallet, and text placement to actively engage my reader. Conversely, as a workshop facilitator, I have become quite familiar with the “Business Emails” workshop, which has provided me with practical tips for communicating effectively and appropriately with the Best Buddies chapter via email.
Do you feel you’ve gained useful skills in either role that help with the other?
My work at the writing center has truly transformed my interactions with my Buddy, Leo. It becomes all too easy to peer buddies to “baby” their buddies by acting on their behalf. In doing so, people with IDD lose their independence and ability is not fostered. However, my work at the writing center has taught me to scaffold appropriately when working with people who may need a little more guidance. On the other hand, working with Leo and other buddies has taught me incredible patience and determination, qualities that have become invaluable when working in the UCWbL with writers of all abilities.