Newhouse Ambassadors bring diverse perspectives, a welcoming face to the Newhouse School

by Blessing Emole

November 18, 2019
Wes Whiteside in his office.
Wes Whiteside in his office at the Visitor's Center in Newhouse 1. Photo by Hieu Nguyen

As associate director of diversity and recruitment at the Newhouse School, Wes Whiteside works hard to create a welcoming environment for all students, both prospective and current. Working out of the Visitors Center in Newhouse 1, Whiteside is responsible for giving tours and talking to prospective students, which he does with the help of Newhouse Ambassadors.

The Newhouse Ambassadors program, launched in 2004 by former dean David Rubin, is a volunteer program that brings together current students from diverse backgrounds to give tours and answer questions from prospective students.

“They are the face of the school,” Whiteside says.

The program has 140 ambassadors across all eight undergraduate majors in Newhouse, and Whiteside hopes to bring that number to 200 by the end of this academic year. Ambassadors conduct information sessions and tours on a daily basis, showing prospective students and their families all three Newhouse buildings, focusing on the labs, classrooms, the Newhouse Studio and Innovation Center and other highlights.

“We want to make sure we are giving them the experience of visiting Newhouse,” Whiteside says.

Whiteside says ambassadors bring a variety of perspectives to their work, which helps prospective students envision themselves as Newhouse students. The diversity of the ambassadors makes it easier for them to answer questions from prospective students with similar backgrounds, Whiteside says.

Daijha Thompson
Daijha Thompson Courtesy Newhouse Visitors Center

“I can’t tell a prospective student what [it’s like] to be a Newhouse student,” Whiteside says. “[By] hearing from Daijha Thompson, our undergraduate assistant, and other ambassadors, these students [can] decide if this is the right place for them.”

Thompson, a junior public relations major, says, “[Being an undergraduate assistant] has given me the opportunity to meet and impact the decisions of prospective students as they begin their college journey because I get to show them all the great things about Newhouse.”

As an undergraduate assistant intern, Thompson’s responsibilities include keeping up to date with scheduling, organizing Newhouse Ambassador events, giving tours and sharing personal experiences with prospective students and their families.

The variety of perspectives that ambassadors offer during tours and informational sessions is vital, Whiteside says, adding that over 20 percent of the Newhouse student body comes from diverse populations. He hopes that initiatives like the Ambassador Program can help increase that percentage even more in coming years.

“We want prospective students to see other students that look like them and talk like them,” Whiteside says. “Ambassadors can be spokespeople for their major, promote the program and talk specifically about their experience.”

Terry North-Brzuszkiewicz
Terry North-Brzuszkiewicz

Terry North-Brzuszkiewicz, office coordinator for undergraduate recruitment and admissions, says that Newhouse is becoming a more accurate reflection of society, with efforts going as much toward student retention as recruitment.

“More and more we are becoming an expression of what we want to be and what society is,” North-Brzuszkiewicz says.

Whiteside says the ambassador experience benefits the ambassadors as much as it does the school. Ambassadors improve their public speaking skills, learn more about Newhouse and the opportunities available to them and network with each other and with alumni.

Ayana Herndon, a sophomore ambassador studying magazine, says, “It’s nice to have a network of thoughtful, driven, committed students who are so like-minded and ready to take on the world.”

Students interested in becoming Newhouse ambassadors should come to the Visitors Center, located at 301 Newhouse 1, to apply.

“[The Visitors Center] is one more place in Newhouse that is safe for everybody,” North-Brzuszkiewicz says, adding that it gives students a place to hang out and unwind.

“This is the safe space for prospective students, their families and current undergraduate Newhouse students,” Whiteside says.

Blessing Emole is a sophomore magazine major at the Newhouse School.