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spacer spacer spacer spacer September 18, 2008

Ambassador rolls out the welcome mat


Tiffani Williams jokingly refers to herself as a “trained extrovert.“ As an RIT student ambassador, her smile and engaging personality help campus visitors feel welcome.

A. Sue Weisler | photographer

RIT, like any number of college campuses, can seem a bit overwhelming for prospective students and their parents. So what’s it take to put them at ease?

“I’ll tell jokes or poke fun at myself,” states Tiffani Williams, a student ambassador for RIT’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Williams is frequently among the first people to welcome families during their initial visit to campus. She serves as an escort, pointing out the various facets of college life while showcasing the university’s facilities and other resources.

“Basically, I try to help them and provide clarity,” she explains. “It’s really just providing the information and making sure that they know what’s going on. Once you reach that point, they start to feel more comfortable.”

Williams was selected as a student ambassador while working as an office assistant for Co-op and Career Services. Each year, about 50 students help with rolling out the welcome mat to campus visitors, and she says the opportunity to make a positive impact can be very rewarding.

“When a parent says, ‘Thank you so much. We’re definitely considering RIT now,’ that’s great—awesome.”

“Tiffani is a wonderful asset to RIT,” says Colleen Peterson, senior associate director in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. “She is always ready to help families with her warm and friendly personality, and you can tell she gets energy from being in front of families when talking about RIT.”

A native of Rochester and a graduate of The Aquinas Institute, Williams is a fourth-year graphic media major in the School of Print Media. Over the years, she has embraced a wide range of activities offered to RIT students, including membership in Gamma Epsilon Tau, a co-ed graphic arts fraternity.

Williams is particularly proud of her participation with the RIT/NTID Dance Company. A love for the performing arts took root after she enrolled in dance class at age 9.

“I was always jumping around, as kids do,” she recalls, “so my parents just decided that maybe I needed an outlet of some sort. In high school, I was probably at the studio five days a week. By the end of senior year I was there every day, and I was assistant teaching classes for little ones—9- through 11-year-olds. So it’s definitely a big passion of mine.”

Now, as she looks forward to graduating in May, Williams turns her attention toward potential career options.

Not surprisingly, staying connected to the world of higher education offers great appeal.

“That’s largely a product of being a student ambassador for three years. I love it—love interacting with families and love the whole college atmosphere.”

Williams will pursue graduate studies next year, and she is in the process of evaluating half a dozen schools to study higher-education administration. Her long-range goal is to earn a doctorate degree.

But for now, look for her on campus, sharing stories with curious families and touting the hometown university she loves.

“When you’re a student ambassador, it’s ‘RIT, RIT,’ all the time. But it’s a lot of fun.”

Paul Stella

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