Wildcat Welcome adds family ambassador position to application, extends application period

Olivia Exstrum, Reporter

The Board of Directors for New Student and Family Programs introduced the option to be a family ambassador into this year’s peer adviser applications in an effort to promote increased family assistance in addition to helping students adapt to the Northwestern community.

Daniel MacKenzie, assistant director of the Office of New Student and Family Programs, defined family ambassadors as students whose main purpose is to help transition the families of new students and help them understand a little bit more about the university. Although this program was introduced last year, this is the first year there is a formal application process.

“Peer advisers are a huge asset to the transition of new students, and so we wanted to have families feel that as well,” MacKenzie said. “So having a group of students dedicated to the transition that the families go through we felt was important.”

Additionally, this year’s PA application process was extended by two weeks with the application period opening on Jan. 16 and ending on Feb. 3. There was a 10-student increase in acceptance this year, with 213 students offered the position.

“The recruitment process was a little bit earlier this year, just so that we could extend the selection process for as long as possible so we could evaluate the candidates as fully as possible,” MacKenzie said.

Mackenzie said the main qualities the Board and the Office of New Student and Family Programs are looking for in a PA has remained largely the same over the years. More than anything, the position of PA is focused on service, he said.

“At the heart of it, we want students who love this university, but also love welcoming new members to this community,” MacKenzie said.

Weinberg freshman Amakie Amattey was selected as a PA this year and is looking forward to being the “face of Northwestern” for incoming students, she said.

“There are a lot of things I wish I would’ve known about college life, and I would like to pass them on to my own group of students,” she said.

PAs are chosen by the Board of Directors for New Student and Family Programs, a team of 10 upperclassmen students who have past experience as PAs and are selected in the fall. McCormick junior Monisha Appalaraju, a PA for two years and now the director for staff training and dynamics on the Board, said she applied for the position because it was a “great reminder of why I chose this place.”

“I felt like I owed it to the program to take on that leadership and see if I could be more influential and involved in the decisions we make and the planning and training of the peer adviser staff,” Appalaraju said.

Although Mackenzie declined to comment on the number of PA applicants this year, he said many students applied for the position and there were more qualified candidates than positions available. He also noted the board was excited to introduce the family ambassador application as a way for even more students to become involved in Wildcat Welcome.

“There’s a belief that Northwestern is a community of people, that Northwestern is bigger than just the diploma you get,” MacKenzie said. “As a peer adviser, your purpose is to be a part of that community and welcome new people into that community.”

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