The Alumni Network College Ambassador Program launched at the start of the 2019-2020 school year on three campuses: San Diego State, CSU San Marcos, and UC San Diego. This program seeks to empower Reality Changers’ program graduates to take on leadership roles as mentors and to help provide incoming students a successful transition to college. Through mentorship opportunities teaching practical leadership and community-building skills, the Ambassador Program helps Reality Changers’ first-generation students strengthen their self-confidence, find their voice, and grow into pillars of support that future program graduates can aspire toward.
With a year behind us, and many more to come, we wanted to share a few reflections and highlights from this past year. First, an introduction of the 2019-2020 Ambassadors from this past year:
In the 2019-2020 school year Hanna Olfoche was a 4th year Psychology major at San Diego State University (SDSU) on the Pre-Medical track. Born and raised in San Diego, CA, she graduated from Scripps Ranch High School and Reality Changers in 2016. Upon arriving at SDSU she quickly immersed herself into campus-life and signed up for every club that resonated with her. Her favorite quote is: “I raise up my voice– not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard… we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” — Malala Yousafzai
Jacqueline Garcia is a 2020 graduate from California State University San Marcos with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Communications. Born and raised in San Diego, California, she is a Point Loma High School and Reality Changers alumni class of 2016.She was a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success at CSUSM, the nation’s largest leadership honor society. Her family motivates her to keep thriving and succeeding in life no matter the obstacles she may encounter along the way, and she aspires to receive her Masters Degree in Social Work to become an academic school counselor or a medical social worker.
Thuy-Hong Nguyen graduated from UCSD in June 2019 with a degree in Public Health and in the 2019-2020 school year was a student in the UCSD Pre-Med Post Baccalaureate Program. Thuy grew up in City Heights, and graduated from Reality Changers in 2015. During undergrad at UCSD, her involvements included OASIS Summer Bridge as a student, resident advisor, research assistant, and OASIS Workshop Facilitator, among others. Thuy will be attending Western University in Pomona this upcoming fall where she will work towards becoming a family doctor. Her favorite thing to do when she’s back home is eat at the amazing restaurants in City Heights, and her hobbies include trying new foods, fashion, running, and looking at memes.
Thank you to Geico for partnering with the Ambassador Program this past year! Geico supported our ambassadors in co-leading professional development workshops, and was a phenomenal partner who invested their time in supporting our ambassador’s own pre-professional development in addition to investing in Reality Changers’ alumni by offering generous giveaway items to incentivize attendance at events.
Throughout the school year Ambassadors hosted educational and social events for Reality Changers’ alumni on their campus. In supporting first-year students in particular, ambassadors worked to provide a bridge to resources on campus and beyond to maximize the first year experience. Some of these on campus events included: Navigating Your First-Generation College Experience, Landing Your First Internship, Creating Your Elevator Pitch, and From Impossible to I’m Possible: Acing Your Next Interview. In these events, students had the opportunity to connect with their peers, get personalized advice in a small-group setting, and ultimately gain skills and confidence to take them into the next few years of their college experience and beyond. One of our Ambassadors shared about her experience supporting students: “Knowing that students developed a trustworthy bond with me was rewarding and something that I enjoyed the most. Experiencing their appreciation towards me made me feel like I was more than just their ambassador. This role also made me realize that I want to keep working with students for my future career paths in school settings as a counselor.” All our Ambassadors did a phenomenal job in providing spaces for connection and encouragement through group and 1-1 check-ins.
While this program supports Reality Changers Alumni it also aims to support the professional development of the Ambassadors themselves. One Ambassador reflected, “I believe this program was rewarding, in that it gave me the opportunity to be an active mentor within the UCSD community to RC alum, while allowing me to develop my presentation, public speaking, communication, and problem-solving skills. I learned to sharpen my time-management skills as well from this program.” Ambassadors took the lead in creating engaging content specific to their campus and student needs for events, marketing events to students, and provided 1-1 mentoring to students. Ambassadors prioritized enhancing student support networks and strengthening student access to resources on campus to support their journeys to graduation day.
In the coming 2020-2021 school year, we are excited to continue the Ambassador Program at CSUSM, SDSU, and UCSD. With many schools beginning the fall semester online, all events will be held virtually via zoom until the campus decides to go 100% in person. It will be optional for our Ambassadors to create and lead workshops this year, and instead, we are encouraging them to identify university-led workshops/events that will be beneficial and fun for first-year students to attend. In addition, the training for the upcoming Ambassador cohort will focus on developing and strengthening the Ambassadors’ peer advising skills. Our goal is to equip Ambassadors on how to best support first-year students as peer-advisors including the ability to identify when a referral to a campus trained professional is best suited for a student.
We are excited to continue providing innovative support to all Reality Changers students regardless of where they find themselves on their educational and professional journeys, and look forward to the 2020-2021 school year with gusto!