Epitomizing Effective Peer Leadership: Nandi Jennings ‘22

By Hannah Grunow ‘23

Staff Writer/Photographer

Have you considered being a Peer Mentor or holding a position as Residential Coordinator (RC) or as a Community Coordinator (CC)? Nandi Jennings ’22, a Biology major from Oakland, California, provides a unique outlook on these roles. As a CC and Peer Mentor, Jennings works to foster connections among her fellow students in a relaxed way.  

According to Jennings, as a Peer Mentor to incoming first years this fall, her goal was to help the new Scrippsies feel comfortable by offering a laid-back environment of support.

“I wanted to show that you can be a leader in a different way,” Jennings said. “For me, it always kind of stressed me out when I was in a new place and everybody was so extroverted. As a Peer Mentor, I tried to be upbeat, but still really laid-back and calm so that hopefully the new students would be less nervous, too. Orientation is a lot! They have events every day, and then it’s like ‘Okay, time to start class!’ I wanted to help the new students feel comfortable as they dealt with all that.”

As a Peer Mentor, Jennings aims to ensure that all students felt included in the Scripps community. This means working to facilitate connections among students.

“I wanted to make sure that the [students] would get to know each other, so right off the bat they’d have connections,” Jennings said. “I wanted them to be able to see each other around campus and know each other’s names so that they’d always have someone to talk to. I made everybody go around in a circle every time we met and say their names, and I’m not sure they liked that [laughs], but I think everybody learned each other’s names by the time orientation was over!”

According to Jennings, she also felt it was important to get to know each of the students in her group personally. 

“When I was first getting to know the students I was mentoring, I tried to ask them questions that they really wanted to answer, instead of the typical, ‘Oh, how was your summer?’ Like I tried to ask about their interests, things like music, and things that made them passionate and really want to open up,” Jennings said. 

As a CC, Jennings sees her commitment to forming a personal connection with each student as key to fostering community within her residence hall. 

“I know everybody’s names, and I always wave and say hi to everybody on my floor,” Jennings said. “I like being more laid-back, because I think it helps everybody feel comfortable.”

According to Jennings, “at the beginning of the semester, [my roles were] a lot! I had a lot of work to do as both a CC and a Peer Mentor, so I planned fewer big events as a Peer Mentor — but I also thought it might be better for the [first years] to have some free time and not have to be doing events constantly.”

Despite the workload, Jennings says she highly recommends taking on the dual role. “It was a really great experience,” Jennings said. “I definitely plan on being a Peer Mentor again.”

If you hope to mentor incoming students next fall or would like to foster community as a CC, Jennings exemplifies the effectiveness with which these roles can be taken on and highlights the importance of knowing your leadership style, such as how casual you want to be, how you want to get to know your students, and how you want to approach the creation of community. To speak from personal experience, Jennings is a wonderful example of a peer mentor. By answering all of my questions and making an effort to get to know me, she made me feel welcome at Scripps before orientation even started.