PSU Vanguard Shield Icon

The face of PSU

The student development office is looking for a few good student ambassadors. Their focus is to acquire 200 nominations for next year’s ambassadors, a process that will continue until April 15.

Michelle Toppe, assistant director in the office of student development, said there are typically 150 nominations.

Currently, 12 students represent the university as student ambassadors. “Their job is to be students and to articulate that experience,” Toppe said.

That experience includes giving campus tours and acting as student liaisons with the community.

Ambassador coordinators Targol Saedi and Robin Johnson hope to get the word out about the nominations through various advertisements and through a campus wide memo signed by the president. Also, President Daniel Bernstine sent out a letter to all the faculty and staff encouraging them to nominate qualified candidates.

“It’s a really great opportunity to get the PSU experience,” Saedi said.

Toppe said the reason why the students are nominated by the faculty is to engage students who might not normally get involved.

“The student ambassadors are basically there to serve and represent the university,” Saedi said. Saedi has been an ambassador for three years.

Toppe said the ambassador nomination gives the faculty a formal mechanism to recognize students for good work.

Toppe said one of the unexpected benefits from faculty nomination was the response from the nominees. The nominees receive a packet with a letter that tells them who nominated them. Toppe said a lot of students respond by saying that they did not even know that that certain faculty even knew them.

“For me that is a success,” Toppe said.

Toppe credits the success of the student ambassador to students who helped create the program. Toppe said that in 1995, people from the university approached her with three different visions for a new program. Those ideas turned into the current ambassador program. Toppe tried to meet the needs of the university and provide a meaningful experience for all. But, she said she wanted to make certain that she did not overstep the student government roles. “We could do both,” Toppe said.

Toppe said on average one fourth of the current ambassador’s return for a second year. She said the ambassadors program is a great “spring board” for other things such as peer mentors or graduate school.

“Personally I consider it to be a deep privilege to work with these students,” Toppe said.

Saedi said the selection process is highly competitive. Ambassadors must commit an average of 10 hours a week. However, Toppe said the time commitment is manageable.

Events are covered on availability. Toppe said the ambassadors are required to be honest with themselves and the other ambassadors about their time limitations. “The fundamental learning that occurs is learning to be there for another person,” Toppe said.

Saedi echoed that sentiment and said being an ambassador is a great opportunity to work with other students who are academically engaged and excited about representing the university.

A ceremony will be scheduled later for all nominees. This year the keynote speaker will be David Johnson of the history department. Toppe said Johnson teaches a class about how historical figures influence the time and space in which the live, which, Toppe said, is exactly what the ambassador has the capability to do.