Putting a face to the place

By Jake Knight

DSC_0020The Student Ambassadors are a group of students who “are the face of Whatcom Community College,” said Matthew Santos, Whatcom’s new Student Life coordinator and adviser to the ambassadors. Student Ambassadors offer campus tours to prospective students, lead W.A.V.E. orientations for new students, represent the college at recruitment and other events that help fund the school, and encourage participation in student activities and events, such as basketball games.

The ambassadors like to “help get students comfortable,” when they come to Whatcom, said Student Ambassador Jake Hawes, 19. Santos said they often give new students their first impressions of Whatcom.

“Every time an ambassador reaches out to a prospective student, gives a tour to a prospective student, [or] communicates with other students on campus, they’re potentially creating other Student Ambassadors,” so the job is an important, Santos said.

“When I came [to Whatcom], my first W.A.V.E. made a big impact on me,” said Student Ambassador Christie Hunt, 19. “The Student Ambassador that met with me made me feel comfortable,” and that made her want to be a part of the ambassadors, she said.

Student Ambassadors work on an on-call basis, and interact with members of the Board of Trustees and potential Whatcom donors. They represent the college at Whatcom Community College Foundation events, Santos said.

An example of a foundation event would be the opening of Whatcom’s new Health Professions Education Center. At the grand opening they met with potential donors and The Board of Trustees to promote the community college, Santos said.

Student Ambassadors are paid $10 an hour for the events they attend. They are required to work a minimum of 10 hours per month, according to their webpage. Some events are mandatory, such as W.A.V.E. orientations, summer training camp, and weekly meetings, said Student Ambassador Melissa Degraaff, 18. There are also opportunities for them to sign up for optional events.

While Student Ambassadors get paid, Santos said he doesn’t believe that is the reason why they are involved.

“I really think that most of them would tell you that’s an added bonus,” Santos said. “They get professional development out of this, they learn how to become better leaders, they get the opportunity to meet great people, students, staff and just other people in the community through the ambassador events.”

Connecting with people is the most gratifying thing about being a part of the program, said Student Ambassador Grace Flora, 26.

To get involved, students must apply during spring quarter through the Student Life Office in Syre Student Center. They must submit a resume, cover letter, and references.

From there, potential Student Ambassadors go through the application process. They go through group interviews before they narrow it down to individual interviews. Six to 10 ambassadors are picked annually, and their term runs from Sept. through June, Santos said.

“I am looking for students who are dedicated. I’m looking for students who are punctual,” Santos said. “I want students who want to be here and have the desire to make positive impressions on the campus and positive impressions on people who are interested in Whatcom Community College.”

While many of the things Student Ambassadors do are set in stone, Santos, being new, said he has some ideas for improving the program.

“I’m looking at what system is in place and how we can better the experience for all parties involved,” Santos said. “I think I am going to cut the number of ambassadors and implement a mentorship program [next year], where a few ambassadors from this current year will help out training and teaching the new ambassadors the ropes.”

“I feel like the ambassadors are a part of Student Life, but I feel like they could be a bigger part of Student Life than what they are now,” said Santos.

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