By Chyna Valentine
The “littest” organization on Xavier’s campus, also known as the Peer Dean Association, are student
leaders that incoming first-year students encounter when beginning their journey at XULA.
As they embark on their journeys, the Peer Deans that they met during their orientation serve as their
mentors and guides throughout the year. Members of the Peer Dean Organization go through a two-
week-long process to earn their spots in the association.
This 2021-2022 school year, the student director, senior Abena Garrett, led the organization.
Alongside Garrett were the other Peer Dean Planning Committee members, including Gerald Jones,
Salome Blackwell, Tiandra Putman, Zion Rouege, Galeesa Mangle, Victoria Howard, TreSean Levias, and Gabrial Varlack. These student leaders all work together to make first-year orientation week a success.
Mangle, Rouege, and Jones all recently won positions as Mister and Miss Senior as well as Mister Xavier
this past week. Almost every Xavier University of Louisiana campus student leader started in the peer
“The purpose of the Peer Dean Association is to aid in the acclimation of new students to the university. We also mentor incoming first-year students and put on transition events so that students can get to know their peers,” said Jones, the Co-Student Director.
PDA week was held from March 27 through April 1.
During the week, there was a banquet, a party bus, and many other events to show the current peer
deans that they are appreciated for all of their work. Orientation week is extremely time-consuming and tedious. It is not common knowledge, but members of PDA work on events, move students into their dorms and do it all on about 3-4 hours of sleep a night. The students put all this effort into this association for free and still manage to be leaders in other
aspects of the university.
“I joined the association because when I was a freshman, and I saw the peer deans during my
orientation, they looked like they were having so much fun,” said Anaya Beckles, a returning member of -the organization. “You could tell they were like a family, and I wanted to be a part of that,” Beckles added.
During PDA week, members of the association are awarded certificates by the Peer Dean Planning
Committee as well as mementos.
Peer deans receive a sweatshirt every year, and senior members typically receive an extra gift.
This year senior members of the association were surprised with a letterman jacket with their names on the back.
“So we really just want to let our members know that their hard work is seen and appreciated so that
they continue to be a part of our peer dean family,” Mangle said.