Peer Advisor Profiles

We asked the 2016-17 peer advisors a few questions about why they chose HDEV, what advice they have and more. We also asked the graduate assistant in the HDEV academic advising office for a little insight in what he does and why! Check out what they have to say! 

Graduate assistants

Taylor Mackenzie

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

Day-to-day I supervise the peer advisors in the office, advise students who come in during walk-in hours and hold advising hours on main campus for students who have any after-hours questions. We advise students on anything from class selection, credit transfers and degree progress, to future goals and aspirations.

Why did you pursue an internship with the Human Development Department?

I decided to pursue my graduate internship with HDEV advising for a few reasons. I want to go into academic advising in the future, and I went through the HDEV program as an undergrad, so I thought it was the perfect mix of those two things to complete for my required internship in my master's program.

Why do you like being a graduate intern?

I like being a graduate intern because I get to interact with so many students every day. It is so great to see the peer advisors grow, and I love seeing new students come in for advice and leave with a clearer idea of where they want to go and feeling better about where they are.

What advice do you have for human development students?

My advice for HDEV students is to really take advantage of all the program has to offer. Participate fully in the practicum experience because it is so worthwhile and will help you later on. Visit the peer advisors and talk to them about what they are doing and their future plans. This really is a community and there are so many people and offices here to support you and help you achieve your goals!

Shira Williamson

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

On a day-to-day basis I supervise the peer advisors as well as do things like assign them projects to work on throughout the semester. I also advise students on a walk-in basis in which I can help if they have questions about human development as a major, classes, degree progress, etc. 

Why did you pursue an internship with the Human Development Department?

After I complete my master’s degree in December, I would like to have a job working with college students. I have always been drawn to academic advising because it is a great way to help students have a successful college career while also building relationships with students. I was also a human development major when I was an undergraduate student so I have a love for the major!

Why did you pursue an internship with the Human Development Department?

I like being a graduate intern because I get to work with the peer advisor and supervise them as they progress through their internship experience. I also really enjoy helping students as they come in with questions or concerns. It is very rewarding to see a student leave from a meeting feeling confident and excited about the future.

What advice do you have for human development students?

My main advice for HDEV students is to ask questions and take advantage of the resources available to them. There is no need for a student to feel embarrassed when they have a lot of questions, there are people always around to help! There are so many offices and services available on campus that can really be beneficial to many students. Another piece of advice I have is to always live in the moment and be proud of where you are in your journey! 

Peer advisors 

Emily Tedesco

Hometown: Hewlett, NY

Major: Human development

Minors: Education and health and wellness

Graduation: May 2018

Why did you choose a degree in human development?

I chose to be a human development major, because since a very young age I knew that my passion in life was helping people. My favorite part about the human development program is that it doesn’t just lead you to one profession at the end of the road. With this degree, I have the opportunity to work with people in any field I choose, and I have the basic skills and knowledge that I will need in whatever career I decide.

Why did you want to be a peer advisor for the Human Development Department?

I wanted to be a peer advisor so that I can use my knowledge of human development and passion for helping people all in one. To me, educating others on the subject in which you are most passionate about is one of the most incredible feelings. I also understand and have seen firsthand how stressful classes can be at times, and peer advisors are here to alleviate that pressure.

Amanda O'Connor

Hometown: Greenwich, CT

Major: Human development

Minors: Italian and global studies

Graduation: December 2016

Why did you choose a degree in human development?

I chose to pursue a degree in human development because I love working with, and learning about people. I am interested about the ways in which we interact both on a large, social scale and on a small, personal level and how these interactions change throughout the lifespan. I feel very passionately about social justice issues in today's world. It is important to me that we are able to discuss such important topics in a respectful environment and that these topics are incorporated into our curriculum with human development.

Why did you want to be a peer advisor for the Human Development Department?

I wanted to become a peer advisor for the Human Development Department because I love my major. I want to share what I know and what I have gotten from my experiences in the major with other students. I also hope to pursue a career in counseling after I graduate. This experience is helping me to explore aspects of a future counseling career.

Emily Burgoon

Hometown: Rew, PA

Major: Human development

Graduation Date: May 2017

Why did you choose a degree in human development?

I chose a degree in Human Development for the endless career opportunities I would have with a focus on helping others. Humans are immensely diverse and I like trying to understand how and why we do the things we do, especially our interactions with others. Initially my interests were in helping people at a very singular, individual level. However, now I am interested in pursuing a career working for a non-profit or governmental agency bringing about systemic organizational change. I am greatly interested in the youth and geriatric populations and their relationship to the community. Eliminating mental health stigma is another passion of mine.

Why did you want to be a peer advisor for the Human Development Department?

I wanted to be a peer advisor simply to help other people. I look forward to assisting my peers with everything from class schedules to a shoulder to lean on when needed. I also wanted to be a peer advisor to connect more with my peers. I am an adult, non-traditional student so I hope to bridge that gap between non-traditional and traditional students through my time as a peer advisor.

Kayla Villanyi

Hometown: Tuxedo Park, NY

Major: Human development

Graduation: May 2017

Why did you choose a degree in human development?

I chose a degree in Human Development because I knew it was the perfect fit for me. I went into college knowing that I wanted a profession in a field that focused on people. Fortunately for me, the Human Development program exceeded all of my expectations. The program gives you the knowledge and skills to work with populations of all different backgrounds which is incredibly beneficial. Human Development classes are interesting and relevant to real life situations, and I highly recommend this major to anyone who has an interest in helping professions. Even to those of another major, human development classes offer a fresh perspective on people and social justice issues that anyone will find beneficial.

Why did you want to be a peer advisor for the Human Development Department?

I wanted to be a peer advisor for the Human Development department for several reasons. First, I knew it would give me good hands-on experience working directly with individuals. I am unsure of the exact career path I want to follow, but I know that this would give me real world experience helping others work through various issues. Second, being a peer advisor would also provide me with the opportunity to have a positive impact on my peers in some way, which is extremely rewarding for me. Lastly, it gave me the opportunity to connect with others. Not only do I meet students who come into the office, but I get to know my fellow peer advisors very well, as well as the graduate advisors and the academic advisor.

Maggie Harten

Hometown: West Nyack, NY

Major: Human Development

Graduation: May 2017

Why did you choose a degree in human development?

I chose a major in human development because I feel that human development courses do an outstanding job of not only helping to develop strong interpersonal skills, but they also do a great job of helping students understand individuals from different backgrounds.

Why did you want to be a peer advisor for the Human Development Department?

The main reason I decided to apply to become a peer advisor stemmed from terrible personal experiences in academic advising offices in the past. I felt that I could make a difference in the overall experience of student when they come into our office because I understand the stressful process they’re going through.

Andrew Berger

Hometown: Yardley, PA

Major: Human Development

Graduation: May 2017

Why did you choose a degree in human development?

I chose HDEV because it allowed me to explore the many disciplines within social justice, and I felt it would let me develop many important skills I would need to be successful in whichever field of work I chose.

Why did you want to be a peer advisor for the Human Development Department?

I decided to be a peer advisor because I have spent the last four years meticulously planning my own schedule in order to accomplish my goals, and decided to share what I have learned with others to better their own academic experience.

Emma Klainberg

Hometown: Manhasset, NY

Major: Human development and psychology

Minor: Education 
Graduation: May 2017

Why did you choose a degree in human development?

I started in Harpur as a political science major and soon realized that wasn't what I wanted. I began looking into psychology and human development and liked HDEV for its promotion of social justice. I find it to be not only very interesting information, but important for students to know. I wish every student could take at least one HDEV class. Besides that, HDEV is very interesting and versatile and can apply to any job because it is important to be able to connect, understand and work with people, which is one of the things this major emphasizes heavily.

Why did you want to be a peer advisor for the Human Development Department?

I’m thinking about a career in student affairs, and I worked as an orientation advisor during Summer 2015. I ended up working a lot with new students (freshmen, transfers and non-traditional students) to pick out their classes and explain the HDEV program during their orientations. I decided that I really enjoy helping making this overwhelming process as simple and as easy as possible. It is a very rewarding job to have and I love it! I also love working with students and making friends so feel free to stop in with any questions!

Stephanie Soifer                 

Hometown: Lawrence, NY

Major: Psychology and Human Development

Minor: Education

Graduation: May 2017

Why did you choose a degree in human development?

I chose a degree in Human Development because it is an all-encompassing major. It provides the foundation for working in any field requiring interaction with people. Through the human development major I was able to get involved in various clubs and internships that helped me find a career I want to pursue. 

Why did you want to be a peer advisor for the Human Development Department?

Being a peer advisor is a great opportunity to work and help people, while being able to learn from my peers. As a double major, I understand how difficult and frustrating school can be with a heavy workload, and a schedule that is difficult to follow. The Human Development Department has a lot to offer; and I want to share that with my peers, as well as assist them with anything they may need

Last Updated: 11/21/16