Child Youth Worker hopes to spread message of tolerance

Peer mentor & Child Youth Worker student

Michael Tyler, peer mentor & Child Youth Worker student


Michael Tyler never thought he could make it to college, let alone become a peer mentor and guide others through the experience.

Tyler, a student in Sheridan’s Child Youth Worker program, struggled throughout high school with grades and was victimized by homophobic bullies.

“I was never out in high school but there were rumours and people picked on me for it.  I experienced that just the assumption can really trouble some youth,” he said. “I did research where it actually showed that just the label itself can increase someone’s chances of suicide by about 50 per cent.”

Tyler said he not only felt neglected by his peers because of the bullying, and he was also discouraged from moving on to post-secondary education.

“I always thought to myself, ‘If I can’t get an A in high school, then there’s no chance I’ll survive going back to college’,” he said.

But he decided it was something he needed to do, so he attended night school classes to upgrade his marks, with a goal of getting an 80 per cent average.

Once he reached his goal, Tyler said he felt ready for college.

He chose the Child Youth Worker program because he says he dealt with a lot of internal struggles and never had the resources to help him cope, so it inspired him to want to work with others and provide coping skills for other youth.

Upon coming to Sheridan, he said he was greeted by peer mentors at his orientation.

“I sat there and saw what they were doing. They inspired me and I felt confident,” he explained. “I thought, ‘I have this support. When I have trouble, there’s people who are going to walk me through this.’ ”

It was at that point he decided he wanted to be a peer mentor.

According to Student Services, “Sheridan’s peer mentor program is the longest continually running mentorship program at an Ontario College.”

To become a peer mentor, students must be in the second year of their program and must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Tyler said the mentors are there to “act as a catalyst between both professor and student, providing clarification… We provide support and confidence for students in first and second years.”

They clarify assignments, make sure students are on the right track, provide resources with the school as well as outside of the school, and run events to help network students with others, among many other duties.

“It makes the college life a bit more exciting.”

On top of the mentoring program, Tyler also speaks at some of his former schools in Brampton and Burlington to advocate on behalf of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer issues.

Tyler said he ended up teaching seven health classes in two years about LGBTQ acceptance and what it means, as well as prevention strategies.

“I took a lot of the things that I have experienced and incorporated that into my lessons,” he explained.  “I think I really inspired a couple of them.”

With all of the struggles he faced in high school, Tyler is happy to be where he is, helping others along the way.

“Being here is kind of like that high school experience I always wanted – I’m getting good grades, I’m doing so many extra-curriculars, I’m close to my profs, I have great friends,” said Tyler. “This is what I wanted when I was 16 years old. I just had to wait a little longer to get it.”

For more information about becoming a peer mentor, visit


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