College ambassadors are uniquely typical students

Every spring, the sixteen technical colleges select one of their respective students to become an ambassador and represent the college and perhaps the System. The colleges respectively nominate one student to represent them, and the System recognizes all 16 of them with their nominators and families in a formal event. Selection is based on a number of criteria, including the students' academic performance and activity at the college. The role of the ambassador can vary from one college to the next, but generally, they be asked to speak as a representative of the college and/or of the state. They may help give campus tours, speak to the board of trustees, media, etc.

The ambassadors share many of the same challenges and aspirations as other students. Every one of them has overcome something in their life to get where they are. Whether they enrolled in a technical college directly from high school or didn't enroll until they were laid off and ran out of imminent career options; whether they were newly married or newly divorced with four kids; owned a business or transferred after two years at a university – they have likely overcome (or are hoping to) something significant in enrolling. Perhaps it's the stigma a student may feel while transitioning from full-time employee to full-time student, transitioning from university student to technical college student, or high school student who isn't taking the "conventional" path in postsecondary education, instead choosing technical college over a university or four-year college. Perhaps they have a history of hazy decision-making and saw college as the way out of their rut. No matter the specifics, they are like every other student at a technical college. Consistent with many of us who have had sudden life changes, many technical college students admit they never envisioned themselves on this path. Some would never have believed they’d be doing this.

And yet, some of the personal journeys our students have taken are startling. The mere fact that they’ve altered their plans to do something that didn’t used to exist on their radar them makes them special, sure; but when you consider the transformation our students face when enrolling in technical college, they are especially inspiring. Our ambassadors have done all this and maintained excellent academic standards and simultaneously displayed impressive leadership and community service. In this way, they're just like all our other students. Yet different. One thing all our graduates seem to have in common is a confidence and self-assuredness developed by overcoming past challenges. This education has helped them succeed in getting their degree and will help them very much on the job.