Organizing events, encouraging students, writing a grant and starting a library are just some of the things West Virginia University’s Honors College student ambassadors have done.
“They are vital to life at the Honors College,” said Marie Leichliter, who oversees the ambassador program at the WVU Honors College. “They are what keep students’ lives balanced. We, of course, focus on academics but as any academic knows most student learning happens outside of the classroom.”
Current honors students and ambassadors Molly Simis and Kacie Kidd see their role as a “privilege” and an “opportunity to have an impact.”
Kidd, a senior biology and women’s studies major from Wellsburg, is the first student to hold the position as first-year student ambassador. Her role is to plan activities that help engage the first-year honors students.
During her time as an ambassador, she has started the Honors Student Collection, a mini-library of books available for any honors student to check out.
The collection is composed of books donated by the students. Each book is signed by the student who donated it with a description of why the book is important to them.
“Almost all honors students love books, but the regular library doesn’t have a lot of books for pleasure reading. This collection of books gives students access to a variety of leisure reading material that other students recommend,” Kidd said.
Kidd also wrote the Honors College student handbook, organizes themed dinners, helps with Honors College overnights, speaks to prospective students on the phone and in person and helps with the college’s freshman orientation class, among other things.
And, on top of all of that, she is a resident assistant for the college’s residence hall and is on her way to medical school.
“There are other student positions but this one, with the title of ambassador, serves a great purpose. It is here to make students more comfortable and let them know that there are other students they can turn to,” she said.
Simis, a senior biology and environmental geosciences senior from Fairmont, serves as the college’s academic and community ambassador, a position that was once split into two people but was recently combined into one.
The majority of her job is dedicated to coordinating and running New Student Orientation during the summer.
Throughout the year, she helps plan student activities such as the Honors Ball, helps at Mountaineer Visitation Days, is the president of the Honors Student Association where she helps to coordinate a variety of community service projects and helps with general office work, among other things.
In addition to her required duties, Simis also started and wrote the grant for the Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review, a research journal for students on WVU’s campus. She is currently the chief editor of the journal.
“I loved that I was able go to the college with an idea for the journal and it was supported. It was pretty amazing to start from scratch, learn how to write a grant and see it happen,” Simis said.
Being an Honors College ambassador is not only a rewarding and career-building experience for the student, but it is also “critical” to the college, Leichliter said.
“They are so very important to the college, a huge asset. This individual is at the forefront and knows a lot about the college and is willing to coordinate a whole slew of activities. They are invaluable to enhancing the overall college experience,” she said.
Any WVU Honors College student is invited to apply to be in an ambassador position, which opens up each year. Students are required to complete an application and come in for a formal interview. Their leadership abilities and organizational involvement will be assessed, as well as their standing within the University.
For more information about WVU’s Honors College, visit http://honors.wvu.edu .
By Colleen DeHart
News and Information Services
CONTACT: Marie Leichliter, Honors College
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