Quinton Richardson: My Experience as a Portland State Ambassador

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Quinton Richardson, a member of Versation's Student Advisory Board, is a Student Ambassador at Portland State University. He recently shared with us about how his decision to become an ambassador has effected his college experience and prepared him for post-college life:

I chose to become a student ambassador during my Freshman year of college and have come to realize that is one of the greatest and most fruitful decisions I’ve made as a young adult. The mission for a student ambassador is to create an inclusive environment for prospective students, gain professional development, and learn what it truly means to be the face of a university. It can be intimidating to know that a job you have on campus can put you into a platform of being a “model student”, and I believe the student ambassador program properly prepares students to be in the spotlight.

When I think about my development as a young man, leadership has always been a prominent factor in my life. I am the oldest of two siblings and was raised by a single mother. Growing up in that kind of environment allowed me to step up into a leadership role by supporting my sisters and mother on a regular basis. As I grew up and began to attend Portland State, I recognized the student ambassador program to reflect this same exact idea of stepping into a leadership role and doing more than the status quo. Going above and beyond to support prospective students and their families; just as I did with my personal family.

At Portland State, we like to hashtag our team as: #STAMBFAM. This stands for “student-ambassador-family”. This speaks volumes to the mindset of this program and climate of our university. We seek for people to feel included and supported during their college journey. This is how we go about giving the daily tours for our campus as well, we want our students and guest to feel a part of the family. As a student ambassador, you are more than likely to be the first physical contact that a student or family is experiencing at an institution, so it’s important to be punctual.

My experience being trained in the program has brought me an endless amount of skills that I can use day to day. For example, something one learns as a STAMB professional is to have your name tag on the right side of your body, so when you shake someone’s hand they have a direct line of site to your name. Learning small details like this is what sets a student ambassador program apart from the rest; real life skills and awareness will set you apart in any job search. Another great skill that comes with the program is the three pump handshake. When you’re meeting for an interview, try not to exceed more than three pumps when you shake the interviewer’s hand; another small detail to make sure to reach your goals.

In college, it’s imperative that one gets involved, not only to improve your skill sets but to have a sense of belonging in your university. Although the student ambassador program is a job, it’s also another great way to support both your local, national, and international community. How does a student ambassador affect society on an international level you may wonder? People come from all around the world and come into our office with aspirations and a goal, and it is our job as student ambassadors to support them along their path to achieving it. 

To learn these kinds of skills can propel an individual into opportunity, success, and self fulfilment. Student Ambassadors are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout their employment. This pushes us to remember you we are students first, and ambassadors second. Having a job on campus while going to school can be challenging with scheduling and the company/employer sympathizing with a student schedule. When giving tours I always make sure to warn students about getting off campus jobs, as the job does not have much obligation to empathize with student stress and scheduling as they are not affiliated with the school. Earning an on campus job will allow you to feel more connected and improve your networking. 
    
Networking! I ended the last paragraph with that word because it is another aspect of the student ambassador world that anyone can benefit from. For example, I am a health science/pre-physical therapy student and was doing an event at our university president's house as an ambassador. The event had many health professional from all around the city, including the president of Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU grad school). I began to mingle with the different professional’s, keeping in mind my three pump handshake and name tag placement. I began to strike up a conversation with the vice provost of OHSU and explained my goals and knowledge of health care. He then went on to discuss an internship at the hospital and connected me with the head director of rehabilitation services. I met with the director and she offered me to be one of the first students to pilot a weekend outpatient internship at OHSU rehabilitation services. Absolutely incredible. The interaction and networking experience I gained from the student ambassador program propelled me into an internship that will can help shape my entire career. 

Participating in the student ambassador program is a great experience and will give you life long friends and memories. You will be challenged, and will have an entire team to support you. The retreat is a great time to bond and get to know your co workers. Our team goes camping each year and all enjoy s'mores, hot chocolate, and funny stories. You will grow in this program and test your limits, it’s not easy to influence someone's decision to choose your university, but with your training and positive mindset, it will become easy and fun. 

That concludes my blog! I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about me and my student ambassador experience. Showing pride for you university by recruiting prospective students and gaining skills that can be used in multiple settings is a win win. This program has changed me for the better and know it can do the same for you. Good luck and go viks!