Herbert Ambassadors Present at the 2024 CIVSA SDI Conference

Share on

The Collegiate Information and Visitor Services Association (CIVSA) hosted the 2024 Student Development Institute (SDI) National Conference January 4–6 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Cassie Johnson, the Herbert College of Agriculture’s director of enrollment services and head of Herbert Ambassadors, attended the conference with undergraduate recruitment coordinator Timmy Carter and six of the college’s ambassadors.

Johnson spoke to the value of the conference and the opportunities it opens for students. “SDI allows student leaders from across the nation to collaborate and share best practices. It enriches emerging leaders from the college and further develops their skills as they continue to be beacons for the institution they represent.”

Mackenzie Furches, a senior animal science student and the membership chair of the Herbert Ambassadors, shared that she most enjoyed listening to the experiences of other college ambassadors. “Hearing from others always puts things into perspective, and gives us as students the ability to appreciate both the opportunities we currently have, and spaces for growth on our campus.”

Furches, along with fellow ambassador Bryse Vrolijk, led an educational session during the conference, titled, “College Specific Tours and Tour Guides.” They discussed the importance of college-specific tours at large universities, how to conduct such tours, relating to prospective students, and creating a more accessible bridge to college.

They emphasized the personal touch the Herbert Ambassador program provides at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. According to Furches, ambassadors are able “to personalize tours for prospective students and their families, including attention to accessibility needs, combating barriers to college education, and offering students highly pertinent information regarding their chosen course of study.”

She continued, “I think this is incredibly important in terms of recruitment, as students feel empowered through personalized attention and feeling that they matter on our campus. Additionally, helping to combat barriers of entry in higher education is both a goal and an outcome of our program and allows students from diverse backgrounds to call Herbert home.”

For Furches, attending the conference and sharing about her experiences created a sense of “sincere appreciation” for her college and university. “The Herbert College of Agriculture has provided me with endless opportunities and has allowed me to pursue my education in a way that I never thought possible as a first-generation college student.”

Chief among these opportunities has been her time as a student ambassador. Furches is grateful for college leadership and the Dean’s Office for their support, and of course, for Johnson, the ambassador program’s leader. “Many other programs across the country do not have the access or opportunity to attend events like these, or to achieve the success that we have on our campus. We wouldn’t be capable of this success or growth without that support from leadership. I am incredibly thankful to be a part of such a devoted and driven campus organization.”