Spartans of UD: Daphney Gabriel

Aug 25, 2020

Spartans of UD highlights what makes University of Dubuque special – the people who live, work, and study on campus.

Daphney Gabriel, a junior human health science major from Chicago, has volunteered two years in a row to be a peer leader with Spartan Start.

1. Why did you volunteer to be a peer leader?

“I’m always looking for new ways to step out of my comfort zone, so when the opportunity to become a peer leader came up, I jumped at it. I also enjoy helping others, especially first-year students who are coming into this new environment not knowing anyone. I wanted to be the person they can turn to. I wanted to help guide them their first year and provide the support and help they need.”

2. What have you learned from your role as a peer leader with Spartan Start?

“Being a peer leader has taught me a lot. It really improved my leadership skills. Now I’m not as shy about taking up leadership roles. I also learned that everyone adjusts to new environments and chapters in their life at a different pace; it’s all about figuring out which pace your mentees are at. Once you have that figured out, then you can better support them. A key factor that goes into being a peer leader is being a good listener. I was good at listening, but after Spartan Start, my listening skills have definitely improved. When I listen to my mentees and other people, I make sure I’m listening to listen and not just to respond. For example, I make sure I hear what they’re saying so next time I can bring up a key factor that they mentioned. I’ll be like, ‘I remember you said that you were going to try to start tutoring lessons in science. Did you ever go? How’s that going?’ Everyone likes to know that they’re being listened to.”

3. How does Spartan Start help new students begin their college experience?

“Spartan Start is a program that every school needs. It provides you with peer leaders who genuinely want to help you.  The program gives you a head start in making new friends, finding your classes, being provided resources that will come in handy once school starts, introducing you to your professors before classes, getting to know the campus and city of Dubuque, and so much more. It helps the new students know they are not alone; there are so many people on campus here to help you get through these next four years!”

4. What tips do you have for first-year students?

“The biggest tips that I have for first-year students are to be yourself, step out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to ask for help! I know the first semester of my first year I didn’t really step out of my comfort zone, and I missed out on a lot of great opportunities to make new friends and try new things. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like asking people for help because I feel like I’m bothering them, and I always think I can do everything by myself. Surprise, I couldn’t, you can’t, no one can. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to ask questions. You’re not alone. You don’t have to do anything alone. Last tip: enjoy these next four years. I know everyone always says your college years fly by – they actually do! So make the best of these next four years; make mistakes, learn, grow as a person, and have fun!”

5. Where is your favorite spot on campus? Why?

“My favorite spot on campus is definitely the Charles C. Myers Library. I spend so much time there. The library has almost everything you need. They have an Academic Success Center where I can stop by and get help with any class I’m struggling with or if I just want someone else to proofread my paper for class. The library has super comfortable seats everywhere! They have individual quiet rooms (which I have taken many naps in) where you work alone with no distractions. If you’re into working in a group, no problem, they have big study rooms that have computers in them that you can work in (I’ve also taken naps in there). Sylvia’s Common Ground is also located in the library. It’s a cute little coffee shop with the best chocolate chip cookies. During finals or midterms, the library is my friends and my number one spot to be and I think you can see why: so many different resources and great places to study (and nap).”