We tend to most readily identify an ambassador as a high-ranking diplomat representing a sovereign government. Perhaps in a less exalted rank but no less important capacity, select students at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) serve as ambassadors for the school, their primary purpose/role being to welcome and introduce new and prospective students to university life.
The top qualification for these students who play an important role in the SEBS Ambassador Program, which is run by the Office of Academic Programs (OAP), is to “demonstrate dedication, enthusiasm, good communication skills, commitment, dependability, responsibility, respect for self and for others, leadership skills, strong academic merit, and Rutgers pride.”
These are vital skills in a competitive recruitment environment, in which schools work tirelessly to attract prospective students and retain them until graduation. The program includes a variety of levels: Student Ambassadors, Tour Guide Ambassadors, Spend-a-Day Ambassadors and Outreach Ambassadors, who all add tremendous value to the range of student services offered by OAP staff.
Assistant dean Carl Leikhram, who is charged with recruitment in his role at SEBS, sees that value every day. He feels honored to lead the student ambassadors, whose work significantly increase the odds of success in the unenviable challenge of making a big campus feel accessible, personable and approachable.
“The SEBS Ambassador Program is a major component of our recruitment strategy at SEBS. When we invite our guests from around the world to meet with our current students, the ambassador program plays a vital and invaluable role by providing access to authentic student experiences,” said Leikhram.
“The ambassadors showcase our campus on tours, share their personal growth experiences through Spend-A-Day opportunities, and demonstrate to incoming students and their families that SEBS embodies a community that cares,” he added.
For Leikhram, “leading the team of students in the SEBS Ambassador Program is something I am proud of, as they become leaders for access, excellence, and relevance both in and out of the classroom.”
Meet four of the SEBS Ambassadors who serve on the frontlines of student recruitment.
Mark Youssef SEBS’23, Major: Biological Sciences, minor in Chemistry
As a SEBS ambassador, we provide our perspective and unique experiences to prospective students and admitted students. This is really important to me as I want to provide students a realistic and honest perspective on what Rutgers and SEBS specifically has to offer for students. I became part of something larger than myself, working in a team who is dedicated to empowering students by showing them the endless possibilities Rutgers has to offer.
Kaylee Grullon, SEBS’24, Major: Microbiology
Being a SEBS student ambassador allows me to grow with every interaction. When I first started, I did not realize the tremendous impact I would have on prospective students and the impact they would have on me. I have become more confident, as I am able to aid in the college decision process and really show all the amazing opportunities Rutgers/SEBS offers. It brings me so much joy that students reach out and share their appreciation for the ambassadors. I can confidently say that being a SEBS student ambassador has been the most meaningful experience of my time at Rutgers.
Víctor Aguilar, SEBS’23, Major: Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior Major
Being born and raised in Puerto Rico, getting used to a new environment at Rutgers has not been easy but I did not let my status limit me. During my time at Rutgers, I have done so much, from being involved in leadership in environmental organizations to discovering my identity. I decided to become an ambassador to show people who I am and what Rutgers is so that incoming students know what they too can become should they decide to enroll. I want everyone to feel as welcome as possible in this diverse environment, no matter who they are.
Sophia Liang, SEBS’25, Major: Landscape Architecture
Being a SEBS ambassador has made me feel closer to SEBS than before, specifically being a first-year here at Rutgers. This role has helped me grow as a person in academic and personal ways. I enjoy helping other students to get to know about SEBS and see what SEBS offers. Also, I really like my team because everyone is passionate about their major and SEBS. So glad to be part of something so wonderful. I can’t wait to meet more people as new students or new members!