Ask any Saint Paul College student what makes their school unique, and diversity and inclusion are likely at the top of their list.
“Saint Paul College is a place that empowers students from all walks of life and places all around the globe as they navigate their different pathways”
Saint Paul College President Rassoul Dastmozd
There’s likely no better example of both the diversity and empowerment Saint Paul College students experience on their education journeys than the Student Ambassador Program.
The Student Ambassador Program at Saint Paul College is an on-campus leadership opportunity designed to give current students the opportunity to be leaders by connecting with the Saint Paul College community.
“Student Ambassadors participate in recruitment and admissions events to give the student’s perspective,” says Gabby Miller, Saint Paul College’s Outreach Coordinator. “Since they are students themselves, they can provide insight to the prospective students and their families about the college application process, the great resources available, and ways to get involved on campus.”
A Desire to Inspire
While the backgrounds of the ambassadors are incredibly diverse, they are united by their desire to inspire others.
“Our Student Ambassadors are unique because they are leaders who want to connect with others not only on our campus, but in the community as well. They want to help and inspire others by sharing their stories.”
Saint Paul College Outreach Coordinator Gabby Miller
The story of student ambassador Jantana Stageberg begins on the other side of the world. “I was born without running water or electricity on a rice farm in Thailand, where I walked to school in bare feet and used a banana leaf to cover my head during the rains,” she says. Today, Stageberg is a first-generation college student working toward her Data Science degree, and says serving as a Student Ambassador has helped her prepare for her future.
“I’m shy, so it has really helped me overcome that fear and build my confidence with public speaking and communicating – it’s really expanded my horizons.”
Jantana Stageberg, Data Science
Things just weren’t working out for Ron Bailey at a different local college, and his mom, a Saint Paul College alumna, recommended that he try Saint Paul College. Bailey took her advice and has not looked back. He’s involved with TRIO, a program for non-traditional students over 24, that has really been a springboard for helping him get back into the “college grind.” He’s become more focused and is now pursuing an Associate of Arts degree. The Student Ambassador program has helped him get to know many different students. “I like that everyone talks to everyone,” Bailey says.
“This is one of the most diverse and socially active campuses I’ve been on. I also like how there are so many resources here.”
Ron Bailey, Associate of Arts
Student Ambassador Dalilah Eldomiatti came to Saint Paul College for the opportunities it offered. “I am legally blind, so I was looking for a program with daytime classes in an industry that did not require much vision,” she says. “I saw that Saint Paul College had a diverse community with many more opportunities than the college I was attending at the time.” After transferring to Saint Paul College and enrolling in the Human Resources degree program, Eldomiatti was eager to become part of the Student Ambassador Program.
“It is allowing me to expand my leadership experience while helping others, and has given me an opportunity to meet and work as a team with other Saint Paul College students.”
Dalilah Eldomiatti, Human Resources
From the moment she heard about the Student Ambassador Program, culinary arts student Amber Craig knew it would be the perfect fit for her. “I spent years struggling to overcome homelessness, addictions and abuse before making it here to Saint Paul College. Now, I’m proving to myself I can complete my education and create a better life for myself and my son,” says Craig.
“After learning about the Student Ambassadors, I wanted to be a part of something so inclusive. Because of my past and my story, helping others on their journey feels so inspiring to me.”
Amber Craig, Culinary Arts
Mercedes Spinks is a 28-year-old mother of four pursuing an Associate of Arts degree with an emphasis in criminology. As a non-traditional college student, she enjoys motivating others who are on the same path. “I started college after high school but the time wasn’t right for me,” says Spinks. “Instead I began working full-time jobs to take care of my responsibilities as a young mother. After a few years, I wanted to return to school and finish my degree. Even though I had been on academic probation, nothing could stop me.” Today, Spinks is completing her final semester with a GPA of 3.6 and plans to complete her bachelor’s degree at Metropolitan State.
“Being a Student Ambassador has been the best experience at Saint Paul College. There's so much diversity we're always learning from each other.”
Mercedes Spinks, Associate of Arts - Emphasis in Criminology
As part of the Power of YOU program, Hoda Elsawy is attending Saint Paul College tuition-free; being a Student Ambassador allows her to communicate the benefits of this program to St. Paul area high school students. “I left my family and friends behind and moved to Saint Paul from Egypt in 2016 to gain better educational opportunities,” says Elsawy. “I graduated from high school last year and chose Saint Paul College because I could start here tuition-free and then transfer to a four-year school of my choice.”
“Being a Student Ambassador has allowed me to become more involved on campus and make some very great friends.”
Hoda Elsawy, Associate of Arts
For Business Transfer Pathway student Virginia Franco-Omana, the Student Ambassador Program has been the perfect stepping stone to a business career. “I believe this program is preparing me for the future by allowing me to practice my leadership skills and guiding me as a potential leader – a leader who is comfortable with diverse backgrounds and ambitious for a new beginning,” says Franco-Omana. “In the business world, it is important to interact well with people from all backgrounds and ethnicities.”
“The diverse student population at Saint Paul College is very well reflected in our Student Ambassador Program.”
Virginia Franco-Omana, Business
Leading and Learning
Each semester, this diverse group of inspiring students works, learns, and leads together. Recent events included a meet-and-greet kick-off event, a Strengths Finder lunch, a team trip to the Minnesota Science Museum race exhibit, and an end-of-semester lunch. In addition, the ambassadors had the opportunity to speak with a local congresswoman, the superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, and many high school and community groups. Student ambassadors are asked to volunteer at least 20 hours per semester and can receive a stipend of up to $450 per semester for 30 completed volunteer hours.
“Any student can become an Ambassador, all they need is the desire to get involved,” says Miller. “The program is truly unique because the student can make it what they want – if they want to become a better public speaker, they can; if they would like to make more connections, they can; if they would like to learn more about the college process, they can.”
If you are interested in building leadership skills for your future, making connections and new friends on campus, and helping to introduce new and prospective students to Saint Paul College, visit saintpaul.edu/Ambassadors to learn more about and apply for the Student Ambassador Program.
This article originally appeared in our College Magazine - Fall 2018. Download a free copy to read more stories like this one.