Unleashing the Power of Student Ambassadors: Strategies for Success
Written by: Autumne Streeval, M.Ed.
Many of us may be familiar with the concept of student ambassadors. These students generally serve as tour guides or represent the student perspective in an educational setting. But how can we take this basic premise of a student ambassador and make it a successful school program? C4 Columbus Area Career Connection has implemented a student ambassador program for several years and can offer some strategies of selecting student ambassadors, how to use student ambassadors as well as the benefits to the school and the ambassador.
C4 Columbus Area Career Connection is a regional career and technical education center located in Bartholomew County. Students from a four county region attend CTE classes at C4. Student ambassadors are selected to represent the career pathway in which they are enrolled. Teachers nominate two students. A rubric is followed for student selection that includes an outgoing personality, passion for the pathway, strong work ethic, effective communication skills, and ability to represent C4 to a diverse group of prospective students, business leaders, and community members. Once selection is complete, student ambassadors complete training to learn about all of the career pathways so they are knowledgeable about more than just their own pathway. All ambassadors participate in an orientation day which also includes leadership training as well.
In addition, a small group of ambassadors will be selected to be on the leadership team. The leadership ambassadors are selected on the basis of demonstrated leadership abilities, a commitment to the positive promotion of C4, and a desire to serve as a liaison between C4 and the community. This group usually consists of eight to ten students. The leadership team represents C4 as a whole, not one specific program. They are the first contacts when a presentation is requested or a special tour. The ambassador leaders are also responsible for most of the organization and planning of the orientation day.
One piece of advice to keep in mind when selecting ambassadors is that multilingual students can be extremely helpful when interacting with various groups in the community. When an ambassador can speak in a prospective student’s native language, it has several effects. The student can visualize themselves in that class, can see that language barriers can be removed, and can build a relationship with the ambassador.
“Students are generally more receptive to hearing from peers than school officials and this helps with promotion and enrollment of the C4 program.”
Pictured above: 2022-2023 Student Ambassadors. Leadership ambassadors are in blue shirts.
So after selection, what do the ambassadors do? Our ambassadors engage in a variety of activities to promote and represent C4. Here is an overview of the activities:
- Ambassadors give tours to 6th graders from all of our public and several private elementary schools.
- Ambassadors create an interactive display and activity for the 8th grade course fairs that happen at both Columbus North and Columbus East High Schools. The ambassadors stay at their booth during the day to talk to students about their career and technical education classes.
- Ambassadors participate in the C4 Open House by sharing their pathway experience with prospective students, parents and community members.
- Ambassadors provide tours to business and community members who seek to learn more about the C4 programs.
- The leadership ambassadors do presentations to community groups, such as Leadership Bartholomew County, to help the community have a better understanding of career and technical education opportunities.
- Ambassadors help organize and participate in events such as GirlUp, STEM camp, and elementary STEM events.
- Ambassadors help present awards and speak at the annual C4 Awards Night.
This is not a comprehensive list. Each school year, there are special events or requests that our student ambassadors are involved with. These could include presenting at conferences or other activities.
Pictured above: A student ambassador talks to prospective students about C4 classes.
“Our student ambassadors gain communication skills, enhance leadership skills and increase their cultural competency.”
BENEFITS FOR ALL
There are numerous benefits to both the school and the ambassadors by having a robust student ambassador program. For the school, our student ambassadors truly serve as the representatives of the program, share information, promote and participate in events, and act as a liaison between students and staff. Students are generally more receptive to hearing from peers than school officials and this helps with promotion and enrollment of the C4 program.
For our student ambassadors, we want to make sure we help them develop leadership skills and give back to them for their service to the program. The leadership team has regular meetings with the administrative team of C4 to keep an open dialogue of what is happening in C4 and to hear the student voice. Our student ambassadors gain communication skills, enhance leadership skills and increase their cultural competency.
This program not only fosters a sense of pride and ownership among the student ambassadors, but also offers valuable experience in public speaking, event planning, and networking. Since implementation of the student ambassador program, the enrollment in C4 programming has increased. In the past few years, 97% of high school students request a C4 class. Much of this success is due to the work of our student ambassadors. Our ambassadors are truly the face and voice of C4. They are much more than tour guides. A lot of responsibility is placed on our ambassadors, and they always exceed expectations.