Thinking back to when I walked into my campus ambassador job audition my freshman year, I was so nervous. Being surrounded by so many intelligent people at a school that I thought I’d never get into* is intimidating in itself. When you add the opportunity to try to be a representative for the entire school by giving tours, my anxiety skyrocketed. I wasn’t shy, but I was unsure about my value as a student and human being. Becoming a campus ambassador has not only improved my confidence, but also developed skills, helped me make genuine connections, and understand responsibilities.
Before being a student, I had a preconceived notion that Berkeley students just study all the time, have no balance, and are completely math and science driven. It was after being at Berkeley and realizing the truth that I knew I had to help set the record straight. Berkeley really is the best of both worlds. We have division 1 athletics with world-renowned academics, lovely nature in the Berkeley hills with city life in San Francisco nearby, and the inclusivity of a public school with the recognition of a world-class university. I felt the need to spread the word and let other prospective students know that Berkeley has excellency in everything, not just in science and math.
After being hired, I was trained to learn the history of our university and all of its beautiful landmarks. Once we did multiple group tours in a practice team, it was time for our 1-1 assessment. However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and we became recluses for the world’s safety. Our ambassador team took this setback in stride and found a way to facilitate a move to virtual tours. From then on, I gave about 10 virtual tours. I loved being able to express my Berkeley knowledge in presentation form. The best part about it was being able to answer questions from visitors through Zoom’s Q&A function. If you’d like to check out a recorded version of a live virtual visit, you can check that out here.
Suddenly, it was Summer 2021 and the world began to heal and venture out into the public to begin living life again. Our ambassador team began holding in-person walking tours for visitors again, meaning that I had to be retaught how to give a tour! Everyone in my hiring class had to pivot from presenting through a camera to leading visitors through campus while walking backward and projecting! It’s safe to say that I was stressed. I gave my first in-person tour last weekend and it was delightful to see guests’ attentive faces and directly show the visitors our gorgeous campus. To be honest, I was terrified at first, but then I got into the flow of things and decided to just own my experiences. I told myself that this is my life and I get to choose how I view things. Anxiety is a natural human response that shoots adrenaline through my veins, giving me extra energy if I encounter a threat. All it really means is that I care about this job. It means that I yearn to do well. So, I thank my body for its defensive response, then put the fear to the side and use that extra energy to give my best to the tour.
Overall, being a campus ambassador has improved my public speaking, organization, mental health, social life and so much more. It’s a job that reminds me why I chose and still continue to choose Berkeley every single day.
*Before coming to Berkeley, I had thought that everyone on campus was computer science or math-oriented. I didn’t realize that just because Berkeley chemistry professors discovered 16 periodic table elements doesn’t mean that our other departments aren’t just as outstanding! For one thing, I didn’t know that Berkeley’s English graduate program is ranked #1 in the country. When I show up to my discussion sections to help bolster class content presented in lectures, my discussion’s Graduate Student Instructors are some of the brightest minds in English!