Fostering student engagement is a core rationale of the PASS (Peer-Assisted Student Success) scheme investigated here, an institutional partnership with trained peer mentors (Success Coaches) who provide course-embedded and individual support. Their stories, analysed thematically, illustrate why they became agents, their contributions to student engagement and the benefits they have gained. Inspired by their own experiences as first-years to become helpers who could empower others by sharing what they have learnt, they also provide a feedback loop between students and lecturers, while helping to create a friendly and engaging environment. Many Success Coaches become involved in other ways too, as representatives, ambassadors, trainers or in student societies. Their histories testify to increased self-confidence and understanding of their subject, and development of transferable skills – thanks to the opportunities afforded by their role, from the perspective of self-determination theory, to experience aspects of autonomy, relatedness and competence – while facilitating first-years’ engagement and development.