“I decided to become a Wildcat Ambassador because I love representing Chico State and everything wonderful it has to offer and wanted to represent myself as a student leader, mentor and role model to others.”
When Karina Lemus attended East Nicolaus High, she set her sights on college. But the admissions process was complicated, and she didn’t know where to get help with her application or financial aid. Sutter County’s East Nicolaus, population 225, was not a stop back then on the college recruiter circuit.
Karina figured it out and is now a junior at Chico State studying international relations. She is also a Wildcat Ambassador, helping high school students across the North State make the college dream a reality.
She loves returning home to meet students at her former high school. It is important for high school students to be exposed to the idea of higher education and have the opportunity to interact with a current university student, she says. “Going back to my old high school to recruit makes the idea of college more realistic to students because they see me, an East Nicolaus High graduate, attending a university.”
Anna Garcia-Mojica, a sophomore criminal justice major and Orland native, feels the same way. She returns to Orland High School in Glenn County because she is proud of what she’s become—a Chico State student and Wildcat Ambassador. “Coming from the small town of Orland makes it really special to go back to my old high school because I want to be able to show students and faculty that anyone can do what I can do with hard work.”
The town of Westwood in Lassen County (pop. 1,647) is home for Wildcat Ambassador Cindy Melendrez. “Being involved in the University and seeing different aspects of it are very beneficial,” says Cindy, now a senior psychology major.
The Wildcat Ambassador program benefits not only the University and North State high school students—the individual ambassadors benefit as well. The experience strengthens their time-management, communication, and presentation skills while exposing them to a wider variety of individuals than they might otherwise meet.
Wildcat Ambassadors are Chico State student interns nominated by Chico State faculty and staff members. Their primary responsibility is to convey to high school students the importance of getting a college education.
Another goal is to encourage prospective college students to attend Chico State. Who better to represent the University than an enthusiastic and successful Chico State student? “I decided to become a Wildcat Ambassador because I love representing Chico State and everything wonderful it has to offer and wanted to represent myself as a student leader, mentor and role model to others,” says Anna.
Teresita Curiel, assistant director of admissions, heads up the Wildcat Ambassador program. The University wants ambassadors to represent varied backgrounds and viewpoints, she says. Diversity is not solely defined by ethnicity but also by academic, geographical, and experiential differences.
“Specifically, the ambassador program was created so that we could use diverse students to recruit more diverse students,” says Teresita. “It is really important to us to keep authenticity in their voice. We’re not going to tell them what to say, because they have their own experience.”
Building a diverse student population, one that reflects the demographics of California, is an important goal at Chico State, and these student-to-student conversations are a very powerful means of achieving it.