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QCC Students Pay It Forward with Advocacy Club

March, 2019
  • QCC's first group of student peer advocates.
    QCC's first group of student peer advocates.

The statistics are staggering. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than two in five women (43.6%) and almost one in four men (24.8%) have experienced some form of contact sexual violence during their lifetime.  Each April agencies across the country put a spotlight on sexual assault to help prevent and educate our society in the pervasiveness of sexual assault. At Quinsigamond Community College, students, staff and faulty have taken a proactive approach to educating its population and offering resources for victims.

Students at QCC are taking the lead in helping their fellow students in dealing with domestic violence and unsafe situations, by developing an Advocacy Club to bring awareness and support to those in need. QCC students Luz “Maria” Mejia and Jamilex Rivas, both Human Service Majors, are two of the driving forces behind the club. They each were part of the first group of QCC student to go through Student Peer Advocate Training for domestic violence held this past fall.  The training is designed to connect the victims of domestic violence at the college with campus and community resources. A few of the students in the first group were themselves survivors of domestic violence. Those students who have already received the Peer Advocate Certification will also be part of the club.

“What we’re trying to do is to develop a club to help victims and give them a place where they can feel comfortable with other students and we can help them with resources,” Ms. Mejia said.

While both Ms. Mejia and Ms. Rivas will both be graduating this May, they want to make sure the club is formed and well established before they leave. They each recognize that a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence often is afraid to come forward.

“I’d encourage anyone who is in need to reach out, open up and not afraid. I’m a domestic violence victim myself.  The first step is acknowledging things. There’s no judgement. This is why we are developing this club. It’s going to be a safe place for students,” Ms. Mejia said, adding, “I had an advocate at the ‘Y’ who really empowered me to speak about this and listening to other women I was able to discuss what I went through.”

Ms. Mejia said taking the Peer Advocate Training certification gave her more clarity on the issues of domestic violence.

“I feel it was healing for all of us. We were able to see what other people had gone through and there was a lot of common ground. We were really able to come together and it was a proud moment for all of us,” Ms. Rivas said.

A new round of students have already begun the Student Peer Advocate Training process this month. Training sessions are held on four Saturdays and at the end the students will receive a certificate from the YWCA of Central MA.

To learn more about the Advocacy Club, contact Dean of Compliance Liz Woods at 508.854.2791 or email or DVAdvocates [at] qcc.mass.edu. To learn what events are taking place on campus for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, visit the April Look Ahead Calendar.

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