Student ambassador group requires high time commitment

Rachel Phelps

They are a common occurrence on campus: students with the red polo shirts and shiny name tags who can be seen leading a campus tour of high school students, being greeters at an alumni event or helping out at a campus wide activity.

These are the Spirit Masters, a group of about 30 specially selected students who fully embody the WKU spirit.

Somerset junior Taylor Ruby is a first-year Spirit Master. He originally applied at the end of his freshman year after hearing about the program from one of his fraternity brothers in Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, but wasn’t selected. He became a Spirit Master after reapplying his sophomore year. 

Ruby said his favorite part of the program is getting to meet people and have experiences he wouldn’t normally have, such as meeting alumni and helping prospective students choose WKU as their college.

“Being able to reflect what WKU has to offer to the general public is awesome,” he said.

Lexington senior Kayla Lofton, also a first-year Spirit Master, had similar feelings. 

“I love the assignments we get to do,” she said. “They range from tours to working alumni events and galas …stuff I normally wouldn’t have done.”

Becoming a Spirit Master is no easy task. “The application process is pretty rigorous,” Ruby said. “You have to do an online written application. You have to do four or five essays … extra-curricular activities … additionally, there are two interviews. One’s a little more laid-back, they just kind of want to get to know you. The next one is a lot more intense … they just drill you with questions one right after another. It’s pretty nerve-wracking.”

The program was started by Carl Kell, currently a communication professor in transitional retirement, in 1981. Kell was inspired by the student ambassadors of the University of Alabama he met during a visit to the school.

Being a Spirit Master also requires a substantial time commitment: 100 hours invested in service to the university over the course of the school year.  

Lofton said investing these hours is important and mentioned that a Spirit Master was dismissed from the program for such reasons.

“They weren’t doing their part,” she said. “You have to commit, and the individual wasn’t doing what they were supposed to.”

Lofton said she enjoys being part of the ambassador program. 

“Being a Spirit Master is a great opportunity,” Lofton said. “It has increased my love for the university. Since I’ve become a Spirit Master, I’ve seen how unique WKU is.”

Lucinda Anderson, chair of the Spirit Masters advising council, emphasized how student-led the organization is.

“I just oversee what they want put in place,” she said. “They’re truly their own student group.”

In comparing the Spirit Masters to Big Red, Anderson said, “We’re the face of WKU. The only difference is that we get to talk and Big Red does not.”