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Friday, May 27, 2022

Apply to be a student ambassador

“I was born and raised in rural Hawai`i. Aside from me, there are only two other people from Hawai`i in the class of 2022. I had never heard of Middlebury until I searched ‘northeast’ and ‘<2,500 students’ on my Common Application, a week before the application was due.” — Maya Gee ’22 

“Coming to Middlebury — an institution my school counselors didn’t recognize, in a state my parents didn’t know existed — without knowing anyone as a person of reference, or even guidance, was difficult.” — Dennis Miranda Cruz ’22 

“Growing up in a suburban/rural part of upstate New York myself, I wondered at the low percentage of students from rural backgrounds. Was this because Middlebury did not find them a good fit when reading their applications, or was it that simply not enough students from rural backgrounds applied? I think the problem lay in the latter — in the limitations of Middlebury’s outreach to rural communities, and thus the lack of rural students applying.” — Cynthia Chen ’22

“I commuted to a public school in the very wealthy Financial District of New York City to escape impoverished and underfunded high schools. I strongly believe that I would not have known about Middlebury if I went to one of my local high schools.” — Roni Lezama ’22

“Growing up in Southern California, I assumed that my area would get a lot of outreach due to the size of our population; that was until I realized that, historically, schools like Middlebury never reached out to my high school or any of the public schools in my surrounding area due to how vast the state is and difficult it is to travel in a short amount of time.” — Myles Maxie ’22

When we, five members of the Class of 2022, arrived on Middlebury’s campus in the fall of 2018, the demographics of the student body saddened us. However, they were not something that surprised us. When we all joined the SGA Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (formerly known as the Institutional Diversity Committee) last fall, we found a platform to address these common concerns.

Put simply, we wanted Admissions to do more outreach to high schools in rural, low-income serving, and/or ethnically-diverse areas — areas where we all came from. While the Admissions Office does currently conduct some outreach in these areas, we believe our own student population could amplify and personalize this outreach even more. To that end, Miranda Cruz pitched the idea of establishing the Student Ambassador Program on campus. The program would have current Middlebury students doing outreach to high schools that can’t always be reached by the Admissions Office. Quickly, we (Miranda Cruz, Gee, Chen, Lezama, and Maxie) formed a sub-group within the committee that decided to initiate this project. 

Last fall, we began collaborations with the Admissions Office to turn our idea into reality. Since the program’s conception, the Dean of Admissions, Nicole Curvin, and Senior Assistant Director of Admissions and Coordinator of Diversity, Inclusion, and Access Initiatives, Santana Audet ’13, have been assisting us in our endeavor. Not only have they helped us build a training program, they have also shared their travel schedules with us — that way, we can be sure to visit the high schools they are unable to.

As student ambassadors, we train Middlebury students in two areas: first, giving information sessions on the college to prospective students and second, adding a personal touch and connect with high school students in their own hometowns. We believe that, above all else, students want to go to a college where they envision themselves being happy. In our experience, the best way to help them have that vision in the first place is by watching and listening to someone from their own hometown speak about the school.

On that note, we think that Student Ambassador visits offer unique perspectives on both college admissions and Middlebury College itself. Apart from the basic information that Student Ambassadors must be trained to know, we think that students can also provide a more candid outlook of life at Middlebury. Often, connecting with college counselors can be very intimidating for college students. In particular, high school students may feel more self-conscious about what they say and do knowing that they are talking to people who might one day be reading their applications. By comparison, chatting with current college students (who are closer in age and experience) mimics conversations with friends. 

Since we began training Student Ambassadors in Spring 2019, we have been piloting the program. We started with schools around the D.C. area and, this fall, are expanding to visit Delaware, Vermont, Hawai`i, Oklahoma, Texas, New York and Ohio. As we are now officially launching the program, we are searching for students who are passionate about creating more access and connection to Middlebury College. We hope this program will be a pivotal point in not only amplifying diverse college admissions outreach at Middlebury, but also across all elite institutions.

If you are interested in bridging a connection between your hometown and Middlebury, apply to be a Student Ambassador at go/ambassadorapp or visit Applications are due: Dec. 2, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.

Maya Gee, Dennis Miranda Cruz, Cynthia Chen, Roni Lezama and Myles Maxie are members of the class of 2022.