Walking the Talk

In case you haven’t noticed, we are looking for some new recruits to our CBA Student Ambassador program. I owe the Ambassador concept to my wife Suzanne, who ran a similar program at University of Kentucky for several years. There I watched her introduce students to new experiences and challenge them to make a real difference in the life of the College. In the process, Suzanne transformed most Ambassadors into confident leaders and effective stewards of a culture that had been shaped by successive generations of student leaders.

If you’ve met my wife, you know she is a doer. She’s not one to spend lots of time conceptualizing or analyzing. She believes experience is the best teacher. So, while Suzanne’s Ambassadors got the occasional developmental workshop or etiquette dinner, the heart of Suzanne’s approach was to give her Ambassadors the opportunity to experience leadership by doing it. She wanted them to experience the glamorous and unglamorous parts, the hard stuff and the fun stuff, the triumphs and the setbacks. Most students rose to the occasion, but some were ill-suited to the effort and had to be let go. They never learned to walk the talk.

You see, leadership isn’t about a line on your resume.  It is about the values you hold, the actions you are willing to take to promote those values and your ability to help people see a future they have yet to experience.

When I started at UCF, I knew I had an uphill climb.  The student experience was far too transactional and people were comfortable.  I needed a vision that would shake things up, a group of students who shared my values about student engagement and a set of ambassadors willing to help me transform the place through their hard work and advocacy for this vision. With more than 8,500 students the task was way more than I could do alone.  Too much reliance on technology gave people the illusion that the best learning happens within your comfort zone and I knew my message of change would best be heard if it came from fellow students rather than just old guys like me.

So, if you believe that students should play a role in creating their own education. If you believe that new relationships and new experiences lead to new perspectives that differentiate rather than commoditize education and transform lives. If you are willing to roll up your sleeves and work toward a vision where every student is engaged in a set of experiences that will set them apart and prepare them for what lies ahead, then come join us. We have a leadership experience worthy of your time and commitment.

I don’t need you to have the highest grade point average or believe you represent “the best and the brightest.” I need you to believe in the cause and have the time to commit to the work without it hurting your grades. I also need you to have the unusual combination of humility and passion to overcome the struggles ahead without giving up or just focusing on the lines on your resume. In exchange, you get to work on becoming a leader as you help build a college culture that is worthy of your legacy for the time you spent here.

If you want to be that kind of Ambassador, you can apply to join by clicking here


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