Lion Ambassadors Revitalizing Tradition After Nearly 40 Years

The first class of Lion Ambassadors was hand-picked in 1982 after Penn State realized the need for a group of students to serve the university and enhance the relationship between students and alumni.

Nearly 40 years later, the organization is reinventing its recruitment strategies by focusing on driving excitement in communities it doesn’t traditionally receive as many applications from.

“Our goals remain the same, though the types of students who represent Penn State continue to change as the institution evolves,” Lion Ambassadors President Nick Pazuchanics said. “We continue to look for the students that want to make this university a better place.”

Lion Ambassadors has traditionally relied on word of mouth to recruit its members. Simply put, the organization didn’t necessarily want anyone who didn’t already know about Lion Ambassadors, so they expected potential members to come to them.

But as Pazuchanics explained, that strategy has gone stale over the years, yielding only applications from the students you’d typically think of as the Lambs “type.”

This year, Lion Ambassadors is making an effort to recruit different and new kinds of students on campus for its upcoming class. Members are going out of their way to tell people why they love Lion Ambassadors, creating partnerships with more campus organizations, and placing greater emphasis on recruitment at their own events.

The application for those interested in joining Lion Ambassadors is changing this year, as well. Think less “Rah Rah PSU” and more questions about how the Penn State experience has affected the applicant personally.

The organization has even sought guidance from Charleon Jeffries, Penn State’s first-ever director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Division of Development and Alumni Relations, and Lauren Halberstadt, manager of student engagement and intercultural learning for Global Penn State.

Lion Ambassadors believes one aspect of recruiting a more diverse applicant pool is truly explaining the value of Lion Ambassadors and the different activities members are involved in besides giving tours to prospective students. Pazuchanics himself was able to give a tour the CEO of Ernst & Young, and the organization puts on about a dozen other projects throughout the year like the S-Zone, Lantern Tours, and Guard the Lion Shrine.

More creative and innovative minds in the room and voices at the table can only make these experiences better for the Penn State community.

“All organizations are trending toward figuring out honoring tradition while innovating toward the future,” Pazuchanics said. He hopes Lion Ambassadors can lead the charge.

Applications must be submitted online by 5 p.m. Friday, December 8.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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