My Fulfilling First Year as a MyBestBets Peer Coach

By Tawanda “TK” Kerr, MyBestBets coach

As a full-time student in my last year at CUNY – Lehman College, studying Business Administration and playing on the varsity soccer team, while being a MyBestBets coach at Grace Outreach (GO), I have much to keep me busy. Despite my schedule being full – 2018 was a great year! Being a MyBestBets peer coach at (GO), a Bronx-based organization that helps low-income women achieve their academic and professional goals, has been a highlight.

My colleagues and I at GO recently introduced our latest cohort of students to MyBestBets, an online career and education exploration platform developed by JFF. As this new group begins working with this invaluable resource, I cannot help but reflect on my first year as a MyBestBets peer coach.

MBB
MyBestBets coach Tawanda “TK” Kerr leads coaching session with students

My students weren’t the only ones to see the fruits of their labors... I experienced both personal and professional growth.

A Year of Triumphs for Students

During my time as a coach, I worked with six cohorts of women as they pursued High School Equivalency diplomas and college admission. Using MyBestBets, I helped these women explore their postsecondary options. Our goal was to determine their own “best bet”—a career trajectory that includes education or training leading to a credential with value and a good job with advancement potential.

I’m thrilled to say that 16 of these women have enrolled in local community colleges, and another 17 entered short-term vocational programs to earn valuable certifications. Their accomplishments are the highlight in a year of milestones.

Successes in Building My Expertise

My students weren’t the only ones to see the fruits of their labors. Through my role as a peer coach, I experienced both personal and professional growth.

In 2018, I was a speaker at the 8th Annual NYC Transfer School Conference, where I shared my expertise and discussed the typical challenges and successes of peer coaching with MyBestBets. I also conducted numerous workshops for students, presented during a JFF webinar, and beta-tested an updated MyBestBets platform.

Most excitingly, I became a New York City peer coach technical assistance provider for the Best Bets team at JFF. In this role, I assist new schools and programs with implementing a peer coaching model. It’s been very exciting to help prepare others to experience the rewards of peer coaching.

How JFF Supported My Progress

I had the opportunity to visit JFF’s Boston headquarters, where I met with employees at all levels of the organization and was provided invaluable career advice. Most interestingly, I engaged in all of the activities I use to coach students - I networked and conducted informational interviews—just like my students do using MyBestBets.

I brought insights from my time with JFF back to the classroom, sharing firsthand stories with my students about what I had learned. I could see how offering my perspective encouraged them. It was a joy—both for me and for them—to see their excitement.

That’s the best thing about being a peer coach: connecting with your peers and encouraging them. It’s through our similar experiences, challenges, and successes that trust is developed. Starting this journey with another group of eager women is sure to be just as wonderful and enriching for everyone involved!