Through a Griffin's Eyes
Griffin Ambassadors exemplify the Westminster experience for prospective students
by Alex Boissonnas (’18)
For a prospective student, the college search can be long, tedious, and impersonal. Wading through information from dozens of schools and picking a favorite can be a daunting process; to rise to the top, schools have to work hard to stand out. At Westminster, a team of student volunteers called the Griffin Ambassadors goes the extra mile to personify the college experience and connect with prospective students through a genuine love for Westminster.
According to club advisor Kristie Spellen, assistant director for visits and campus events, the admissions office launched the Admissions Griffin Ambassador Club during the 2016–17 academic year in an effort to allow more students to play a part in admissions.
“The idea to get more students involved because our student body is passionate about their Westminster experience,” Kristie says.
Griffin Ambassadors volunteer as tour guides, mingle with prospective students at events, and have opportunities to travel to recruitment events. One recent event took two students to Boston for the Student Development Institute Conference as part of their involvement with the club. As Griffin Ambassadors, students also have opportunities for professional development.
“ ambassadors are all enthusiastic,” Kristie says. “They like being here, and it’s an opportunity for me to give them an area within admissions to develop and perhaps move into an internship role.”
Students who volunteer as Griffin Ambassadors get the chance to connect with prospective students during their search for an ideal college and are encouraged to share their personal stories to explain why they chose Westminster. During the club’s monthly meetings, time is set aside for students to discuss classes or professors who have impacted them.
“Creating personal connections with prospective students is an appealing aspect of being a Griffin Ambassador,” says sophomore theatre performance major Tristan Johnson (’19). “I really want to get incoming students as excited about Westminster as I am.”
Tristan likes being a part of the team that gets to shape how students view the college. He values the impact he is able to make on the lives of the people he talks to. Choosing a college is a hard decision, and Griffin Ambassadors have the opportunity to act as living examples of what Westminster is like.
“I think my favorite part about being a Griffin Ambassador is probably the aftermath of what I do, like seeing people that I know were on the fence between two schools who are now here at this school,” Tristan says. “Every day I have someone who comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, you gave me my tour!’ and it’s really cool knowing that I was a part of their college decision. Choosing a college is not an easy thing to do, so it’s awesome knowing that I was a part of that.”
For Tristan, being a Griffin Ambassador is about more than just personal fulfillment. Volunteers interact with potential students during a very crucial moment in their college search; they are some of the first Westminster representatives that these students talk to.
“The Griffin Ambassadors are important because we’re the ones who give people a real look at what college is like,” Tristan says. “We let them know that college, while you’re here to learn, is more than just being here to learn.”
At Westminster, college means more than just the classes you take. Students are heavily involved across campus and outside of the classroom. Westminster students value the college experience—not just the diploma received at the end. The Griffin Ambassador program gives students a way to communicate what Westminster is really like to potential peers, which influences the type of people Westminster attracts.
Tristan says prospective students are always very curious about what brings people to Westminster.
“I think the number-one question I get asked is probably why I chose Westminster, which is interesting because it’s one of those things where each person’s reasons can be totally different from others,” he says.
The Westminster experience isn’t easily defined in one neat bullet point. Tristan explains that he chose Westminster because of the theatre faculty’s apparent desire to develop an individual connection with him as a student—a factor he likes to emphasize to prospective students.
As a whole, the Admissions Griffin Ambassador Club strives to communicate Westminster values to future students.
“We have a lot of passionate students who really love their Westminster experience, and I think that plays a big role,” says Kristie.
The Griffin Ambassadors carry a message that speaks to the heart of Westminster’s community. They show that college should be an experience, and the Griffin Ambassador program is an important part of theirs.
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.