Alumna and former student ambassador Jennifer McLendon is now visitor experience manager. She and her staff show UNT's people, facilities and academics to potential faculty and students, and to business and government officials and visiting VIPs.
When did you join UNT? What is your position?
I started as a student employee and as an orientation leader for Admissions, an Eagle Ambassador in the summer of 2000. I began managing the Eagle Ambassador program as the visitor experience manager in Fall 2001.
What is your academic background?
I’m a 2001 UNT graduate with a bachelor of arts in English - Composition and Language.
How many students apply to be an ambassador? How many are selected?
On average, we have about 80 applicants per year and we select 20 students. Current and previous Eagle Ambassadors definitely have an advantage, but are not guaranteed a spot the following year. Returners do not have to re-interview, but they do have to re-apply and write a justification about why they should continue in the role of Eagle Ambassador.
What are the qualifications?
We require at least a 2.8 cumulative and semester GPA, because the scholarship that comes with the job is pretty significant. Applicants also have to be willing to commit at least one full year to the program, working from August to August, which means they have to take summer classes. Interviews are tricky because someone can look great on paper, but he or she has to have the personality to appropriately entertain a group of visitors. You can teach students about history, academic statistics and marketing messages, but you can’t really train someone to have an outgoing personality. On the flip side, you can have a student with amazing personality and charisma, but who doesn’t meet the GPA requirement. Overall, we look for someone with a genuine love for UNT who can connect with prospective students and sell this university to multiple audiences.
How are they trained?
We hold a week-long training session before the fall semester, and then follow up with training at weekly staff meetings and a mid-year training refresher, but most of training is hands-on.
How many people are escorted around the campus each summer?
Summers are pretty busy for us. Last summer - June 2009-August 2009 - we had 4,316 people tour the campus, and we had 18,846 for all of 2009. The 150,000 visitor, below, toured UNT in October.
What do the ambassadors do during the school year?
In addition to giving tours to prospective students, the Eagle Ambassadors give tours to government officials, potential donors, alumni, prospective faculty and staff members, and large educational and community groups. Other Eagle Ambassador duties include staffing the information and tour desk in the Eagle Student Services Center, left, joining admissions counselors at various recruitment events in the region, serving as student ambassadors for the Office of the President for special events and assisting other departments as needed. Left, ambassadors Damian Torres, left, and Jimmy Kelley at the Eagle Student Services Center information desk.
Tell us about your family?
I am married to another alum, Willie McLendon. We met on a blind date during our freshman year. We have a 3-year-old daughter named Lilly.
Name another organization where you would like to be an ambassador?
I would love to be an ambassador for Disney. They have a phenomenal customer service philosophy and the cast member perks are unbeatable. And, I would want to be an ambassador for a small, funky boutique store. I love the little shops around Denton Square - Madison Jane, La-di-da, Second Street and the Rhinestone Boutique are some of my favorites.
Below, Eagle Ambassador Andrew Donald explains college life to prospective student Stuart Leach and his mom, Linda.
(Interview by Khashan Poitier, student assistant, University Relations, Communications and Marketing.)
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