Business Students Serve the University

Eight years ago, Melissa Samuels, director of alumni programs, created Purple and Gold Ambassadors after having to routinely search for students to represent the university at alumni events. Fifteen students were chosen the first year. In 2014 there is a pool of 24 Purple and Gold Ambassadors, and over half are School of Business students. They may attend alumni or community events or offer tours to visiting VIPs. Many have traveled to New York City and Boston. Others have represented the school at accepted student receptions throughout New York and in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Najwa Zarook '15

Of the 25 to 40 students who apply each year, seven to 10 are accepted into the program. Applicants must meet a GPA requirement and have been enrolled at UAlbany for at least one year. They face an interview panel of faculty, staff, members of the Alumni Association board and current student ambassadors.
Those selected are leaders, involved in clubs, athletics and volunteering as well as keeping up with schoolwork. Samuels said, “We need to be respectful of their time.” There are no meetings. There is no busywork. Students do not staff tables or hand out pamphlets. Their focus is always on interacting with guests and sharing their experiences. At the start of each semester Purple and Gold Ambassadors are asked to sign up for three events; they almost always choose to attend more.
Though the Office of Communications and Marketing teaches them how to deal with difficult questions and the Alumni Association provides an orientation covering expectations, dining etiquette and advice from seasoned ambassadors, new ambassadors are expected to hit the ground running. Samuels said, “It is not a training program to teach leadership skills. They have to have a skill set coming in. They have to be able to consider their audience and be comfortable interacting with a diverse group of people in diverse settings.”
School of Business students are up to the task. Samuels said, “Business and accounting students realize the value of networking and recognize that the program allows them to make connections and work on their skills.” She notes that many students find out about the program from the ambassadors who came before; business students often recruit fellow students they know will be successful.
Of all of the students, Samuels said, “It’s a win-win that works for everyone. The university has a great cadre of students to represent us. When alumni and guests come to campus, it’s the students they want to talk with to get a real sense of what the UAlbany experience is all about. The ambassadors are incredibly valuable to the university.”


 Colin Gerner '14, '15 with Joseph Chu '03           
Jeff Black '76 with Smiley Rojas-Nunez '14