CCCC Ambassadors serve and learn
Ask Central Carolina Community College Student Ambassadors what they like about being a member of that select group and one word keeps coming up: opportunity.
Ambassadors are students who serve as official hosts of the college, representing it at college and community events both on-and off-campus.
“Being an Ambassador is an amazing experience,” said Joe Cox, of Siler City. He is earning his Associate in Science and plans to transfer to a university to continue his education. He said that being an Ambassador has added depth to his education.
“I’ve gotten to meet people I wouldn’t have and given back to the school that is giving me my education,” Cox said. “Recently, for the community, we had a food drive at the college’s three campuses and, the day after Thanksgiving, we volunteered at the Bread Basket, in Sanford.”
Ambassadors assist with activities such as college special events, high school student campus visits, campus tours, recruitment, presentations to community groups and agencies, registration, graduation, and orientation, and other activities. In return for their service, they receive free tuition and fees.
Ten students are serving as Ambassadors for the 2012-13 school year. In their words, being an ambassador provides opportunities to serve the college and community, opportunities to build leadership skills, opportunities to learn about the college and share that information with new students and the community, opportunities to bring out the best in themselves, and opportunities to prepare for life beyond CCCC.
Ambassador Narrie Liverman, of Angier, is earning certificates in cosmetology and business.
“I feel a great deal of pride in being an Ambassador,” she said as she helped entertain children at the college’s Dec. 6 Christmas Tree Lighting. “I’m helping my community and representing my school. I enjoyed working at registration, where I got to share my experiences as a student with new students.”
The Student Ambassador program was started in 1989 in response to concerns expressed by then-college president, Dr. Marvin Joyner, according to Avron Upchurch, retired CCCC executive vice president/chief academic officer.
The first concern was the perception of community colleges as a place for students who could not achieve at four-year institutions. The college wanted to increase awareness in its Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties service area of the high quality of its students and the education they receive.
It also wanted to enhance its approach to education as a holistic experience, providing more opportunities for students to increase communication, leadership, and service skills that would benefit them beyond college.
In the 24 years since the establishment of the Student Ambassador program, almost 300 students have donned their dark blue jackets emblazoned with the college logo and gone out into their college and communities to serve.
“These Ambassadors are the finest representatives Central Carolina Community College could have,” said CCCC President Bud Marchant. “I am proud of how they carry out their responsibilities, creating goodwill and respect for the college wherever they give presentations or serve. In addition, their experiences as Ambassadors instill within them qualities that will benefit them, their families, their employers, and their communities for the rest of their lives.”
Ten students are serving as Ambassadors for the 2012-13 school year. Their names, towns and majors are: Joe Cox, Siler City, Associate in Science; Colleen Cunningham, Sanford, Veterinary Medical Technology; Jonathan Stubbs, Pittsboro, Computer Information Technology; Kimberley Laster Johnson, Dunn, Criminal Justice Technology; Narrie Liverman, Angier, Cosmetology; Sandy Olmsted, Cameron, Medical Office Administration; Jennifer Sanford Johnson, Raleigh, Sustainable Agriculture; Seth Tom, Sanford, Broadcasting/Associate in Arts; Ashley Volan, Apex, VMT; and, Kim Wilkinson, Durham, VMT.
The Ambassadors come from a variety of backgrounds as well as having diverse career goals. For example, Wilkinson was a forester for 16 years in Canada before returning to Durham and beginning her training for a second career as a veterinary medical technician.
Stubbs graduated from the college’s Basic Law Enforcement Training program 20 years ago but went into other work, primarily construction and then building computers. That last line of work inspired him to come back to the college and earn his Computer Integrated Technology degree.
Cunningham moved from Long Island, N.Y., to attend the VMT program, one of the top five in the country. Sanford Johnson has a degree in photography from Appalachian State University, but is now studying sustainable agriculture to become a farm manager. Olmsted retired from the Air Force in 2003 as a master sergeant. She’s training for a second career in office administration, management and accounting.
“Becoming an Ambassador has opened my eyes to see everything the college has for the community,” Olmsted said. “I’m learning about the community and the ties it has with the college — and that the support works both ways.”
Each year, faculty and staff make recommendations for second-year students to serve as Ambassadors. Selection is based on factors such as academic performance, leadership potential and communication skills.
Those selected give three to five hours of service per week to the college, and must attend 80 percent of all classes and group meetings, maintain good standing in the community and college, maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average, complete a summer honors leadership course, attend called and mandatory events, and participate in a minimum of three public speaking engagements.
Since 2006, Mike Neal, CCCC Student Activities Director and Athletic Director, has been the advisor to the Ambassadors program.
“Ambassadors is a phenomenal program,” he said. “I am honored to be part of it. These students are absolutely the best we have — they add so much to the college.”