Student Ambassadors

Premier organization does Old Dominion proud

By Sylvia Corneliussen ’01

Old Dominion University’s Student Ambassadors are among the most spirited students on campus, and that’s one of the main reasons they were selected for this elite organization.

Twenty-five members strong, the Student Ambassadors group helps promote Old Dominion among alumni, fellow students, faculty and staff, and friends of the university. Dressed professionally in their trademark navy blue blazers, they can be seen assisting at such events as admissions open houses, dinners at the President’s House, lectures, alumni reunions and the annual Founders’ Day program.

They are known throughout campus as the university’s premier student organization, and serve as the official student delegates of the President’s Office.

“By being involved in Student Ambassadors, I have been given the prestigious opportunity to see the university in many aspects. Not only have I had the student experience, but I also have been able to see how alumni and other dignitaries really make the university distinguished,” said Student Ambassador President Kimberly Tansey, a junior exercise science major from Northern Virginia.

Formed in 1988 as an adjunct group within the President’s Office, the Student Ambassadors moved to the Office of Alumni Relations in 1997 and became the student arm of the Alumni Association. Their motto is “Serving Old Dominion’s future through links in our past.”

Kenisha R. Sumner ’98, acting associate director of alumni relations, has served as the group’s adviser since 2000. “Participation in advancement programs like Student Ambassadors makes for a natural transition from student to alum,” she said. “Their involvement makes them feel a part of the alumni program before they graduate.”

Right here at home there’s proof that former Student Ambassadors don’t stray far from their alma mater. Among the many former ambassadors who have gone on to play active roles in the Alumni Association are Rob Gies ’90 (M.E.M. ’94), who served as president of the Alumni Association in 2000, and LaKeisha Phelps ’00, a past president of the Student Ambassadors, and former member Tommy Smigiel ’00, who currently serve as co-presidents of ODU’s New Alumni Council.

In February, the Student Ambassadors had an opportunity to promote the university to non-ODU students when they hosted the annual Association of Student Advancement Programs District III Conference. More than 500 students from advancement programs at 20 colleges and universities in 13 states were in Norfolk to participate in leadership and team-building programs, as well as to learn from one another.

Membership in the Student Ambassadors is highly selective. Candidates must fill out an in-depth application which includes short-answer and essay questions, provide letters of reference and undergo a series of interviews with current ambassadors. They also must demonstrate their love for Old Dominion.
“We want them to have a complete understanding of who we are and what we do,” explains Hugo Morrison, a junior communication major from Portsmouth and current vice president of the organization. “We want to make sure they’ve got that Monarch pride.”

Were you a Student Ambassador during your days at Old Dominion? Want to get involved again? E-mail Kenisha R. Sumner ’98 at ksumner@odu.edu.