On a recent Friday night, three Peer Health Exchange alumni from our New York City site gathered for a roundtable discussion about all things PHE. Karina, Faiyaz, and Maverick aren’t just any alumni, though: Maverick James is a founding co-chair of the PHE NYC Alumni Council and, having stepped down in June, elevated Karina Krainchich and Faiyaz Rahman to co-chairs for the 17-18 year. When they aren’t running the PHE NYC Alumni Council, Karina is an alumna of Fordham University, where she served as a PHE co-coordinator and education coordinator for the Brooklyn Arts Council. Faiyaz is currently working as a medical scribe and applying to medical school; he served on the Leadership Council as an undergraduate at Hunter College. Maverick, also a Hunter College alumnus, is about to begin his second year at New York Law School and interns with a federal district judge in Brooklyn.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO PHE AND ITS MISSION/WORK?
Maverick: I loved teaching and I thought I wanted to go into teaching professionally. So when I learned about PHE, I thought it would be a great way to get some experience teaching. I really loved the structure of how you get to pick what workshops you go to and schedule workshops on Fridays, [which I had free].
Once I started teaching, I found every single time that I interacted with PHE; it was something amazing and beneficial to me. There’s something so rewarding about going to the different areas of the city that I had never been to; it was so exciting to go to different high schools, meeting with different students and hearing their ideas to teach them about how their bodies function. It was great to provide some type of education that matters to them.
WHAT MADE YOU ESTABLISH THE ALUMNI COUNCIL? WHAT IS ITS OBJECTIVE?
Faiyaz: PHE is the glue for [former volunteers] to communicate with the organization and school representatives. They can use our council as means by contributing.
Maverick: So I was really happy to see that Alumni Council [opportunity] was available. It wasn’t teaching directly, but it was an awesome way to be a part of an organization that I love and use the skills that I learned with PHE–time management and program development–and bring it to a group that can support the substance of PHE, its mission and health education.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BECOMING AN ALUMNI COUNCIL MEMBER?
Karina: One of the big reasons I wanted to join the Alumni Council is it was an opportunity to stay involved with the organization and give back to the organization – building relationships with people and trying to create a community of people with a similar experience, similar passions, and interests. Having the Alumni Council is a resource for the alumni.
We’re giving back to PHE, but we’re getting something too. We’re having fun and we’re learning new things. There’s always a new leadership position and tons of new skills such as communicating with people, getting people excited, figuring out what do people want, and how can we reach our audience and connect to all of these alumni out there.
Maverick: The Alumni Council is a place where we can expand on the work that we do at PHE and the different roles we’re at now, professional development, helping volunteers get more out of their experience.
One of the Council’s newest initiatives is supporting volunteers’ transportation to workshops across New York City. Members contribute the cost of a roundtrip MetroCard, or $5.50, each month. Throughout the year, the NYC Alumni Council hosts social events and public meetings, and alumni from any PHE site currently living in New York City (or the surrounding area) are welcome to join! If you would like to support the Alumni Council, you can do so here.
If you’re interested in joining the Alumni Council, please contact Taylor Gramps for more information.
Be on the lookout for the more from this roundtable discussion.