By Victoria Giardina
Dressed in royal blue and white striped uniforms, riding golf carts during admissions events and bouncing blue and yellow pom-poms to greet accepted students, there is no chance anyone could miss the College’s student ambassadors.
This month, the College welcomed 50 new ambassadors from an application pool of approximately 400 students, each of whom are focused on promoting diversity and inclusion on campus.
According to the College’s website, the College Ambassador Program is a “service organization supporting the important needs of The College of New Jersey. It consists of students who serve as public relations representatives of the College at officially designated events.”
However, the students accepted into the program are not merely campus representatives. They see themselves as the many different faces at the College who encourage prospective students to join the diversity and caliber of the College’s students.
Angelica Rocco, coordinator of the ambassador program, believes that diversity is a central element of the organization.
“While we are selecting candidates, we do ask a number of demographic questions (hometown, home state, home country) and diversity is so much more than those categories –– personalities and majors also factor in,” Rocco said.
An extension of the ambassador program is the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee which was established after last semester’s ‘I AM TCNJ’ forum. The committee’s goal is to spread awareness and educate members of the ambassador program on how to embrace diversity in order to strengthen both the program and the College.
Kelly Flood, a junior psychology major and an ambassador, explained her involvement on the newfound committee.
“I personally decided to join this committee because I think it is so important to be open-minded and accepting of each other,” she said. “It is a personal mission of mine to help others feel more comfortable in their own skin and feel supported and accepted for who they are, not only within the ambassador program, but at TCNJ in general.”
The high regard for diversity is valued by many, including Alekhya Madiraju, a freshman biology major and new ambassador.
“Of course I want to encourage people to be a part of the TCNJ community, but what specifically encouraged me to apply is the opportunity to work with an incredibly talented and diverse group of individuals,” Madiraju said. “In college, we oftentimes get boxed into groups of friends by major and interests, but (the ambassador program) is the place where I can meet so many people from different backgrounds.”
Many other ambassadors, such as London Morse, a junior accounting major, have found their experience to be rewarding.
“I’ve learned so much about all the amazing resources and opportunities TCNJ has to offer, both through training to give tours and getting to know my fellow ambassadors” Morse said. “I have had so much fun showing off our campus and meeting everyone on the ambassador staff.”
Because ambassadors have the critical role of showcasing what the College has to offer to prospective students, Rocco elaborated on why incorporating the Diversity and Inclusion Committee has been important.
“I think it is so important because diversity, equity and inclusion are so important at TCNJ, and it is important that the students are thinking about how it’s best to talk about that with families,” she said.
Morse explained that because members of the program form such a close community, it appears to be more of an extracurricular activity than a job.
“I think people see how much the current ambassador staff loves their jobs and sees us having so much fun that they think of us as more of a student organization and forget that it is a job that has both responsibilities and a paycheck,” Morse said.
Joel Rivera, a junior electrical engineering major, shared why he became an ambassador and later decided to become a member of the ambassador training committee.
“I felt that my personality is very personable and ‘extra,’ so I go into each of my tours with energy and excitement,” Joel said. “Through the training committee I’m able to give tips and tricks for all our people to be at their ambassa-best.”
Ambassadors like Antonio Carollo, a junior accounting major, find their roles to be fulfilling.
“Through TCNJ’s devotion to academics, strong sense of community, and openness to join campus organizations, in only two years I have grown to become a hard-working and genuine leader,” Carollo said. “I felt there was no other way to truly give back to my college community and showcase the environment that has greatly supported me since I was a freshman than becoming an ambassador.”