Follow the Leader


In a room filled with anxious parents and would-be students, Lindsey Nave, a junior from Harrisburg, Ill., is the only person wearing a smile.

Her short, lemonade-colored hair bobs up and down as she answers questions from a young man.

Most of the people in the Kentucky Museum lobby are huddled around her, staring at the small red and white bus parked outside. Today, like many others, it’s Nave’s job to introduce the world of Western to potential students and their families.

She’s a student tour guide.

Western began the student tour program 14 years ago, Admissions Services Coordinator Erika Winger said.

“When new buildings are constructed on campus, we have to change the script of the tour guides,” Winger said.

After the tour participants are loaded onto the bus, Nave turns in her seat at the front and talks to the cramped people behind her.

Nave begins each tour by introducing herself.

“I’m a junior, but I’ve only been here for a semester,” she said. “I am a transfer student from Southeastern Illinois College.”

Not long after Nave transferred to Western, she realized she needed a job.

“I came in and interviewed for a job in the Office of Admissions,” she said. “And they had an opening and part of the job was to file papers, answer phones, do some mailing and give tours.”

The tour begins at Gordon Wilson Hall and makes it’s way through campus.

During the tour, Nave describes the purpose of each building or monument, what subjects are taught in each building and an interesting fact associated with each structure.

For example, Science and Technology Hall houses the Engineering Technology and Public Health Department. The building was a high school until 1970.

From Normal Drive, the bus goes past Cherry Hall, down Big Red Way and stops outside of Downing University Center.

From there, Nave leads the group out of the bus and into DUC, showing off places like Topper Caf? and the bookstore.

Nave stops walking for a moment and explains Big Red Dollars and Dining Dollars.

“So, you don’t use cash?” one woman asks.

Nave tells the woman that the eateries in DUC do take cash.

“Can you add cash?” another person asked.

Nave spends a good portion of the tour answering questions from prospective students and parents.

Some of her most common questions include roommate situations, whether or not each dorm is air-conditioned and if freshman can have vehicles on campus.

Nave said she became pretty good at answering questions during her tour guide training.

Training for tour guides began the first week of school this year. About a month later, Nave went on her first tour. She summed up the experience: scary.

“The tours last anywhere from an hour to two hours,” she said. “And so to be thrown out there with a group of people I have to show around the school, and knowing a lot of students will base their decisions on that tour is a little scary.”

The tour walks from DUC past Minton Hall through the Guthrie Bell Tower and stops at the Preston Health and Activities Center. After exploring the facilities, Nave leads the tour over to Keen Hall.

Inside one of the dorm rooms, Nave told the group that Western is a dry campus – meaning no alcohol is allowed. She then told a story of a mother of a prospective student who asked if marijuana was allowed on campus. Nave had to explain that marijuana was illegal in all 50 states, so it was illegal at Western.

After the story, the group walked to the bus parked behind Preston and the tour ended.

“The key to a good tour is just being comfortable,” she said. “The more you learn about the people in your group, the more enjoyable it will be.”

Reach Bobby Harrell at [email protected]