When College of Charleston biology major Ezinne Agim ’15 attended her first Peer Assistance Leaders (PAL) walk for extra credit in a
biology class her freshman year, she had no idea she would go on to lead the program with fellow student Sharnae Robinson ’15 for the next three years.
PAL, a collaborative program between the College, Trident Technical College, Charleston Southern University, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the City of Charleston, sends students out in downtown Charleston on Friday nights with plain-clothed police officers to help prevent dangerous situations from affecting their peers. The student-run program is overseen by the College’s Office of Community Relations.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people,” said Robinson, who was introduced to PAL through a friend. “But what I loved about it is that I got to know the area really well. I’m infamous for getting lost, so walking around everywhere helped me get to know Charleston better.”
“My freshman year I was very much alone,” Agim explained. “Coming out and walking with PAL every week helped me to meet people and become more comfortable in Charleston.”
Both students plan to enter the health fields following Commencement – Agim graduates in May 2015 and Robinson will walk across the Cistern in December. They agreed that PAL cemented their decisions to pursue careers in medicine and nursing, respectively.
In the meantime, since Agim and Robinson are graduating soon, they are looking for another student to take over the program. “It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to run the program, so we’re looking for the right person,” Robinson added.
Although Agim will have to leave the program following commencement, she notes that the spirit of volunteerism that sparked her interest in PAL will not so easily leave her. “I plan on taking one or two gap years in Charleston to volunteer before I apply to medical school,” she said.
Regardless, after investing so much time and energy in the program, the two are sure to find a suitable heir to lead PAL. “We grew to love it,” Agim said. “We can’t wait to find someone as enthusiastic as we are.”