Penn’s international student body is taking the initiative to increase the University’s diversity.
A newly formed campus group, the Student Ambassador Program has started recruiting members this semester who will reach out to international high school students. The Assembly of International Students — the largest international student advocacy group on campus — created the program.
SAP recruits international Penn students to serve as ambassadors, who then commit to visiting at least one school in their home countries and make presentations that teach students about the American college application process. The ambassadors also educate students about Penn in particular.
AIS began working on the project approximately a year and a half ago, according to Wharton freshman and SAP Co-Chairwoman Barbora Podzimkova.
“The program started through AIS and then we got in touch with Admissions and Kite and Key,” she said. “Now we have materials explaining the admissions process that our ambassadors can distribute.”
Although Penn already recruits internationally, the ambassadors will help reach more students at local schools in foreign countries.
In the fall, Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said Penn sends representatives to more than 30 countries. However, Admissions representatives primarily recruit from international schools, not local schools, according to Podzimkova.
“I had no idea where to find information. I would have really appreciated access even to a 20-page brochure showing me the process,” Podzimkova said of her personal experience as a student in the Czech Republic.
Since Penn recruits primarily from international schools, Podzimkova said she was “lucky” that her mother took her on a college tour where they just happened to drive by Penn. Otherwise, she would have never known how or why to apply.
Newly trained ambassador and Wharton freshman Sebastian Rossavik, who is from Norway, said he is pleased with the program and thinks he would have benefitted from an ambassador as an applicant. “Thirty or 40 people were signed up for the training sessions — a good number of people are going to be participating,” he said.
Ambassadors attend two training sessions where they learn the information they will share with high schoolers abroad. They are expected to make a presentation and prepare for a question and answer session.
As for getting the word out, SAP used flyers, listservs as well as a Facebook group that sent out messages and event invitations. The group also really relied on word of mouth, Co-Chairwoman and College freshman Nana Adwoa Sey said.
Adwoa Sey attended an international school in Ghana but realizes the lack of information local schools receive from institutions such as Penn.
The goals of the program are “to increase Penn’s diversity not only by country but by background,” AIS President and College junior Carolina Costa said.
On top of increasing diversity, Costa said Penn will be able to receive information from the ambassadors, such as which schools have potential applicants and feedback about the application process.
“The program was geared by students for students,” she said.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.