Preserving and Creating History
While Earning MS/Historic Preservation, Student Helps Other International Students to SucceedMay 17, 2013
Graduate: Spring 2013, MS, Historic Preservation
While earning her master’s in historic preservation at the College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado Denver, Anokhi Varma has been busy building another kind of history—one of helping her fellow international students to succeed through the university’s PAL program.
In 2011, Varma moved to Denver from India. Because she was new to town and lived far from the university campus, her CU Denver life revolved mostly around classes and not much else – the routine of “home to class and back”. At that time, Varma did not feel motivated to stay on campus or to return later for activities.
However, one of her friends, a PAL (Peer Advocate Leader) convinced her to give “getting involved” a try. The CU Denver Peer Advocate Leader Program is designed to foster student engagement and academic achievement by providing peer-level support throughout a student’s academic career at the university.
Varma joined the student government election committee in the Office of Student Life. She found herself getting drawn more and more into campus life and became Head Election Commissioner of the Student Government Association.
She also discovered that she had a gift for helping other students, particularly international students. Adjusting to a new culture, a new campus and way of life can at times be daunting. “International students need a push to get involved,” Varma explained.
Since she joined the PALs in May 2012, Varma hasn’t looked back.
“It is the most fun – I get to meet new people and make a difference in their lives,” she said. “I get to help students who are ‘completely lost’ and go to cool activities like Welcome Week. I have fun with students and participate in activities such as Spring Fling, Fall Fest, and student club games; and I get paid for it. Nothing could be better than that.”
PALs are not trained to be the problem solver, but they are trained to show other students how to obtain help in accessing the resources they need, such as the Phoenix Center, the Counseling Center and more.
“My advice to new students is to get involved,” Varma advises. “Get to know how the campus operates, what resources are available and use them – you’ve already paid for them in your student fees. Get to know the campus and become a part of it.”
International student Anokhi Varma, arrived from India in 2011 and is graduating with a Master of Science in Historic Preservation, College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado Denver, in Spring 2013.
A strong community of help for international students at the University of Colorado Denver. Shown here: Anokhi Varma (far right), College of Architecture and Planning, and associates.
University of Colorado Denver students can get involved with the CU Denver PAL (Peer Advocate Leader) program, designed to foster student engagement and academic achievement by providing peer-level support throughout a student’s academic career at the university.