Student Ambassadors link prospective U.Va. students, current students, alumni

Program includes connections to alumni, U.Va. Clubs globally

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Although subjected to oversight from the Office of Engagement, many of the program’s events and decisions are internally operated and handled by students.

As the 2015-16 academic year begins, the Student Ambassadors are working to connect University alumni and prospective students.

The Student Ambassadors, a group which spearheads annual local send-off functions for incoming first years on behalf of the University, act as student liaisons for the Office of Engagement. The program is operational on a global scale, with ambassadors hosting events across the world for potential University students.

The role of student ambassador was created by the Office of Engagement in 2010 to connect University alumni, parents and friends of the University with current students, according to the group’s website.

The organization represents the University in a variety of capacities, including organizing and operating family weekends, Lawn Society lunches, facilitating local send-off events and placing congratulatory phone calls to recently accepted students.

Student Ambassador President Bhavya Maheshwari, a third-year College student, said the group serves communities which don’t always receive attention from students on Grounds.

“Most student organizations are just involved directly in the University community,” Maheshwari said. “[Student Ambassadors] are the connection between high school prospective students, current students, and alumni.”

Student Ambassador Daniel Justus, a fourth-year College student, said the program is beneficial to the alumni involved in University clubs as well as to prospective students.

“I think it helps bring alumni closer to the University, especially alumni who aren't necessarily in metropolitan areas and that live in areas that don't have a huge U.Va. presence," Justus said.

Justus, who is originally from a small rural town in Southwest Virginia, said the program also helps to recruit students from smaller areas.

"I get to give a picture of the University that prospective students may not get from faculty, staff or alumni,” Justus said.

Although the Office of Engagement maintains oversight of the organization, many of the program’s events and decisions are internally operated and handled, a process Justus said is in line with the University tradition of student self-governance.

“Even though we are under the Office of Outreach and Engagement, for the most part, students do maintain the authority in terms of administrative issues,” Justus said.

Though Justus said he thinks the Student Ambassador program is ultimately a positive one, he said he hopes to see continued outreach in underrepresented areas.

“Anecdotally, I noticed that there is a big emphasis on areas that are well-represented, but that doesn't mean that the areas that aren't well-represented should be any less valued,” Justus said.

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