Ambassador Leaders reflect on the challenges met in recent event, and the journey to leadership
The Centre for Experiential and Service Learning (CESL) hosted its annual Ambassador Leader Challenge on Thursday, November 16. Isha Larson, Volunteer and Experiential Learning Coordinator, told the Carillon that the event offered “an opportunity for the Ambassador Leaders to learn more about other student leaders, the challenges they faced, how they overcame those challenges and became effective leaders.”
Larson emphasized the experiential nature of the challenge, describing it as a dynamic process. “The leaders are participating in hands-on experiences, gaining new skills, and taking the time to reflect on what they learned and what they will do next to improve.”
According to Larson, the Ambassador Leader Program, which is part of the larger Ambassador Program, has a three-tier structure. “The Ambassador Leader Challenge is a project completed by the Ambassador Leaders. All students that join the Ambassador Program begin as Junior Ambassadors. Junior Ambassadors help with volunteer tasks at [University of Regina (U of R)] events. The next tier is the Senior Ambassadors who also help with volunteer tasks, but also have the skills and experiences to give tours of the U of R Main Campus. The third tier is the Ambassador Leaders – these are the Ambassadors that are part of a 16-month program with the mission to develop student leaders through training, teamwork, leadership practice, event management, community service, and mentorship.”
Larson noted that this year’s event was a success. “The Ambassador Leaders did a wonderful job on their presentations. Of course, there were some facets of their presentations that I suggested improvement, but overall, they were impressive.”
The Carillon connected with some of the leaders who took the stage to give presentations for the event.
Austin Harvey, a second-year Education student, highlighted how the Ambassador role has impacted his university experience. “I wanted to offer opportunities to others and participate and volunteer within the community, and have my ideas heard and implemented. This role has made me feel more welcome on campus and has enabled me to meet many new people and do things I otherwise never would have been able to.”
“The topic [that] Mohammad Akib [Hussein]and I presented was the chapter Modelling the Way. A key takeaway was that modeling the way for others is best done when you yourself embody those values first. I left feeling happy with not only the content Mohammad and I presented, but also with the presentations of all the other Ambassador Leaders. I felt that the audience learned some things and that the exercise was a great learning experience for myself.”
Harvey’s journey transitioning from Junior Ambassador to Ambassador Leader was unique. “I was motivated and confident that I could do something on campus to change things, or to become involved with groups that do change things, and within roughly two and half months or so I was able to join as a Junior and finish out the semester as a Leader. “
“If you never try you will never know, and if you never know, you will never learn. It is up to you to take the initiative to create, join, and excel within your own student career, and in your personal life.”
Maliha Jabeen Khan, a third-year Biology major and Pre-Medicine student, delivered a presentation with her partner, Ashlyn Kirk, on the theme Enable Others to Act. Khan reflected, “Our discussion centered on the significance of fostering collaboration and empowering individuals to emerge as leaders. We highlighted the notion that effective leadership isn’t about dictating orders to Junior Ambassadors, but instead involves extending a supportive hand and collaborating with them.”
Khan explained that as a recent immigrant to Regina, she started her journey as a Junior Ambassador to establish a social circle in a new environment. She soon took on the leadership role and was recently honored as Ambassador of the Year 2023.
“The Ambassador Program has, hands down, helped me develop a professional identity both on- and off-campus. My closest friends right now are people I have met through the Ambassador Program. I have learned a lot from my fellow ambassador leaders who are all inspiring, dedicated, and passionate individuals.”
Shalom E. Agun, a third-year student in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, discussed their presentation: “Personally, I felt grateful to have the opportunity to present alongside another fellow ambassador leader, Emmanuella, on the topic Challenge the Process. I learned [that] being a leader requires collaboration. That being a leader takes a team, and to be the voice of change I should be able to seek out ideas for change anywhere, anyplace, anytime.”
Recounting her transformation from a Junior to a Leader, Agun shared, “I would describe myself as an introverted person who has always enjoyed getting involved one way or the other, and the Ambassador Program was the right call for me.”
“It took a while, but I found myself getting comfortable leading a tour group, giving tours to people, and learning to represent the university well because, for some, I am the first contact of knowing the university and what it has to offer to them. I have been posed with challenges during events and the only way it was tackled was the joint effort of the whole team. Overall, it has been a fun and rewarding experience, the growth in me is evident and I hope to continuously challenge myself to grow more.”
As Coordinator, Larson envisions continuous growth for the Ambassador Program with a focus on student input and feedback. “I always encourage Ambassadors to share their thoughts with me so I know what is and what is not working. The Ambassador Program is all about being a team, so I want to hear from the Leaders as well as the Junior and Senior Ambassadors.”
Larson encourages students who aspire to be Ambassador Leaders to seize opportunities, engage, and build skills during their student years. “My advice for students who wish to take on a leadership role is to go for it! If you are interested in becoming an Ambassador Leader, you should apply. I often have students who are hesitant to apply because they don’t think that they have a chance, but you won’t know unless you apply. Just remember you need to become an Ambassador before you become an Ambassador Leader.”
To learn more about the Ambassador Program, students can visit the UR Path website or stop by the CESL office at RC 163.