Student Ambassadors for the College
Shannon Staley's orange and blue Illini scarf made her stand out in the crowded lobby of Chicago's Field Museum on March 2. Some 300 LAS alumni were among the thousands of visitors to the museum that day, the last for a three-month-long exhibition about Cleopatra. Staley's job was to make sure the alumni found their way through the throngs and down the maze of hallways to the special lecture and tour arranged for them by LAS's Alumni Association.
"I got a lot of questions from other people like ‘Where are the dinosaurs?'—but all the LAS people easily found me," says Staley, a member of a new student program in LAS called LAS Leaders.
Staley volunteered as an LAS Leader because she wanted to help the college. But it has turned out to be so much more. She also has had the opportunity to meet interesting people, refine her social skills, and do things that otherwise would not be possible. "I love it," says Staley. "I'm helping my college and I'm having a great time."
So are the other 24 handpicked students who are part of the program. Organized by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the group serves as ambassadors for the college. "Each student is strong academically and has natural leadership potential," explains Susan Feuille, who administers the program. "People love meeting them because their enthusiasm is contagious. They remind them of their own college years and how they shaped their lives."
In addition to assisting at alumni events, the students show guests around campus and select several volunteer projects within the local community to assist with. This year they purchased Christmas gifts for a local family and participated in the Relay for Life cancer fundraiser. In April, they brushed up on their etiquette during a two-hour dinner with residents of a retirement community. The latter wasn't a service project as much as self-help, says Feuille. "These social skills will be important to them in the working world."
In January, alumna Michelle A. Moreno (A.B. '81, French and economics) invited the LAS Leaders to the 95th-floor offices of First Analysis, located in Sears Tower. In addition to a sweeping view of Lake Michigan and catered lunch, the students enjoyed the chance to learn how she and six coworkers, including the company's founder, had translated liberal arts and sciences educations into successful careers in investment banking. Moreno hopes to establish an internship program with her company for LAS students.
"The LAS Leaders program is only a year old and is already generating some unexpected opportunities for students and alumni," says Feuille. "It's beneficial for everyone."
By Holly Korab
Photo by Thompson-McClellan