WKU Tour Guide finishes two-year career

Juan Pinilla, WKU junior and former admissions tour guide, prepares for a new adventure through study abroad in Prague. Pinilla began giving tours for Western during his freshman year and gave his final tour January 17, 2017. “I’m going to miss working with admissions and also being a spirit master,” Pinilla said. “I’ve worked with so many students and parents and I think just interacting with them and seeing myself once in their position, I’m going to miss that.”

Noah Moore

Whether you’ve seen him as a TOP Guide, a Spirit Master or on the IFC Executive Board, junior Juan Pinilla is a familiar face.  After serving as a campus tour guide through the Office of Admissions, Jan. 16, was his last day as a tour guide after two years. 

The WKU Office of Admissions gives roughly 12-13 tours per week to prospective students, and it also gives tours during the winter months. On Jan. 16, Pinilla gave his last tour because he will be studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic this spring semester. Temperatures dipped to 5 degrees Fahrenheit in Bowling Green that day, so Juan gave his last tour to four students who braved the cold.

“Although the weather was against us that day, my group was very talkative and asked a lot of good questions,” Pinilla said. “There is one part of the tour where we take a picture of each tour group in front of the Big Red statue in DSU, and since it was my last tour ever, I decided to get in it with them. It was a bittersweet way to end my two years with the Office of Admissions.”

Pinilla has given over 200 tours since he started working as a tour guide, and he said that when he began, it was a bit nerve-wracking.

“I have always loved meeting new people and speaking in front of large audiences, but I always felt extremely nervous to do so,” he said. “I knew that I wanted to improve my communication skills in college, and working for the Office of Admissions has given me more confidence in myself than I could have ever expected to receive.”

As Pinilla reflected upon the tours he has given, he recalled no certain individual moment as his favorite, but he said that seeing students he has given tours to enrolled on WKU’s campus has been his most rewarding experience.

“Taking an official campus tour was for me the biggest reason I chose to attend WKU, so, in a way, it is an honor talking to incoming students and playing a role in their decision to become a Hilltopper,” he said.

Through the Office of Admissions, tour guides serve as Admissions Ambassadors, and they give tours, answer students’ questions and work the front desk of the office.

Coordinator of Campus Visits Laura Thornbury said that though Juan wore many hats in the office, he truly thrived during tours.

“I loved working with Juan because I could always trust him to make the best decisions and to always do his very best,” Thornbury said. “People would request to be on Juan’s tour because they had heard of other guests’ experiences. I never worried that he may not give it his all with a group. I knew their WKU tour would rise above any other college visit.”

Though Pinilla’s career as a tour guide has ended, his sister, WKU freshman Valentina Pinilla, started as an Admissions Ambassador Monday through the Office of Admissions.

“I am super excited to follow in his footsteps, even though I’ll miss him,” she said. “WKU has been such a huge part of both of our lives, so I think this will bring us even closer.”

The WKU Office of Admissions begins tours this week through May.

Features reporter Noah Moore can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @noah_moore18.