When it comes to what students are thinking and experiencing, the best representatives a university administration can have is its students. Consequently, President David Pershing has a small group of diverse students known as Presidential Ambassadors, who serve as his eyes and ears on the ground.
The purpose of the Presidential Ambassadorship in Higher Education program is to give undergraduate students the opportunity to collaborate with the University administration on President Pershing’s student initiatives and to gain valuable leadership skills.
According to Leslie Cepeda, Coordinating Ambassador for the program, this year’s focus is on student recruitment and retention. Presidential Ambassadors work with either the Student Success and Empowerment Initiative (SSEI) or the Office of Admissions doing social media and marketing, quantitative and qualitative assessment, and outreach to current and prospective students. In addition, when they are not working on improving retention or doing outreach, they meet as a group to discuss issues in higher education and how to enhance their leadership skills. On the social front, they also represent the student body at events hosted by President Pershing, vice presidents, and administrators by interacting with donors, government leaders, and alums.
Their majors vary from Biology and Psychology to Economics and Business. Where they hail from is also just as diverse. For instance, this year’s Ambassadors are from Mexico, China, Columbia, Colorado, and of course Utah.
Mike Bird, a senior majoring in Business Administration commented that his favorite experience has been “…attending the University of Utah football games and representing the students at various academic and social functions.” In addition, Mike stated he enjoys the variety of influential people he has met, in particular, Dr. Vivian Lee, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, Dean School of Medicine, and CEO of University of Utah Health Systems. “As a future Health Care Administration candidate it was great meeting someone who is so influential in our University’s Health Care system.”
In discussing University programs and what makes the U tick, Andres Lancheros, a sophomore majoring in Finance and Economics with a minor in Mathematics said he has “…learned about the various initiatives that are going on around the University to advance all of our students…” In addition, he added, “there are many people working behind the scenes to make the institution run smoothly.”
One of the purposes of higher education is to help students grow, both in and outside the classroom. The Presidential Ambassador program is just one of several programs on campus that aims to enrich the college experience. If you are interested in becoming a Presidential Ambassador for the 2014-2015 academic year, applications will be available during the spring 2014 semester.