International office gains new abassadors

Mackenzie Mathews

WKU international students will soon have a new source to help transform WKU into their home away from home. 

International Ambassador Diplomats have been devised by the International Enrollment Management Office (IEM) and International Student Office (ISO) to receive prospective and incoming international students.

“It’s quite an honor to have been chosen…It was a pretty intensive selection process,” Jennifer McQuady, coordinator in International Recruitment, said.

The ambassadors’ main goal is to provide prospective students with a personal extension of WKU from a current international student, McQuady said.

A total of seven diplomats were chosen to work between IEM and ISO, each from a different country, so incoming students will have relatable sources to turn to. Each member will be assigned a group of students to assist through the transition process.

The student’s first semester will be crucial and the busiest for ambassadors. After meeting with them upon their arrival, the mentors must be diligently available for any confusion the students may come across. 

“When new students come to study abroad, there’s a lot of things to get adjusted to,” McQuady said. 

Before the students arrive on campus, however, the ambassadors will have already been at work. They are responsible for contacting their assigned students and maintaining communication on a weekly basis until they arrive in Kentucky.

They also may be helping with the recruitment process by going to schools in their home countries and telling local students about WKU, but for now their focus is on incoming students, McQuady said.

“I think having the diplomats here will help us maintain international students, so they’re happier,” she said. “It’s nice to have peers to help them.”

Many schools across the United States have similar programs. The ISO and IEM looked to other universities to observe and take note of what WKU’s program should resemble, and they added aspects that make it unique, such as the diplomats working with recruitment.

The ambassadors, themselves, were recruited in March. The international offices were looking to accept between five and ten diplomats.

“As things become more concrete we can increase the number of diplomats,” McQuady said. “The amount of international students is growing, so we will probably see more diplomats in the next few years.”

The group went through training last Saturday, completing exercises in communication, cultural sensitivity, leadership and their responsibilities. Though they will train in the summer, they will officially begin their diplomatic duties next fall.