Syracuse University Magazine

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Student Ambassadors Connect Visitors to Campus

For prospective students and their parents, a campus tour—guided by members of the University 100 student ambassador organization—offers a personalized way to learn about the University’s facilities and culture, as well as many of the important buildings and landmarks. As Julia Arsenault ’18 leads a group near the Carrier Dome this spring, she tells them, “It is the largest domed stadium in the Northeast. But more than that, it’s also the start and end of your college life because you’ll have your Convocation and Commencement here.”

Being a tour guide is just one of the many responsibilities of the University 100, which was established in 1985 and is overseen by the Office of Admissions. University 100 members also escort visiting students and parents, serve as ushers at various ceremonies and celebrations, participate in student panel information programs, and meet with Trustees. Every year, the admissions office receives upwards of 200 applicants for University 100 positions and, as its name suggests, only about 100 students are selected. “Besides being articulate and confident, their involvement in abundant extracurricular activities is another measurement for applicants,” says Katherine Dopulos G’15, assistant director of admissions. “Students who are deeply involved in campus life are able to offer a personal, human connection to people who are visiting SU.”

As an orientation leader and member of a fraternity, student ambassador Jared Birchmore ’18 has plenty of insights to share with prospective students. “Being on such a big campus, people can get really overwhelmed. I recommend them to join a lot of organizations in the beginning, so they can have a way for the campus to feel smaller,” he says. “Sharing my experiences makes me more personable, and prospective students will feel they can relate to me.”

Among all the events the University 100 is involved with, Own the Dome is a special one: It invites admitted students to bring their sleeping bags and spend a night in the Carrier Dome together. In April, 600 admitted students participated in the overnight. “The University 100 has major responsibility for the success of the event,” says Peter Hagan ’03, director of admissions. During the event, admitted students get acquainted with each other, current students, and faculty. What’s more, they make connections and the feeling of belonging is reinforced. Dopulos recalls the story of an admitted student asking a student ambassador where she could get a sleeping bag because she forgot hers. The student ambassador lent her her own sleeping bag. “Now, the student who accepted the help is a guide herself,” Dopulos says. For her, the interaction epitomizes the role University 100 members can play. “When a tour guide can provide them a glimpse of how they could feel at home at Syracuse, that really makes a difference,” she says.

While the student ambassadors enjoy spreading Orange spirit to visitors, they also develop such professional skills as public speaking and networking. They also gain the satisfaction of helping out. “I get more comfortable interacting with strangers, which can be really important in the future,” Arsenault says. “My favorite thing about the job is to receive alumni and show them what changes have occurred after so many years. Once an older gentleman told me that almost half of a century ago, he and his wife first met in Sims Hall. Cute little things like that make me happy and my job worthwhile.”     —Liu Jiang

Photo by Steve Sartori