Ambassadors Give Back to First Generation Students
Student Ambassador Tobie Mitchell (right) leads a campus tour with Kaci and Amy Gilbreath on Nov. 26. UCO’s Student Ambassadors are sponsoring the First Generation Student Scholarship through the UCO Foundation with a three-on-three basketball fundraiser tournament on Nov. 29 in Wantland Hall. (Tanner Laws/The Vista)

Ambassadors Give Back to First Generation Students

The University of Central Oklahoma Student Ambassadors are organizing a three-on-three basketball tournament for Nov. 29 in Wantland Hall to fundraise for the UCO Foundation First Generation Student Scholarship.

Tory Hodge and Salvador Arcivar, Student Ambassadors involved with putting on the fundraiser, said the event originated out of the Ambassadors wanting to do more than just give campus tours.

“We just felt like we want to be more than just campus tour guides, we want to put our name out there,” Hodge said. “We decided to do more with our time and to give back to the UCO community for the first generation scholarship.”

Planning for the event began three weeks ago in conjunction with the UCO Foundation. The UCO Foundation has said that the Ambassadors are one of the first campus organization that wanted to fundraise for a scholarship on campus, according to Hodge.

The First Generation Scholarship was chosen specifically because first generation students are a demographic on campus that the Ambassadors want to positively impact, Arcivar and Hodge said.

With multiple Ambassadors being first generation college students themselves, Arcivar said that the scholarship was of special significance to the organization.

“Any sort of financial support is a huge help and benefit,” Arcivar said.

The Student Ambassadors’ goal is to raise a minimum of $200 and Hodge said they have at least three teams who already signed up for the tournament. They will also accept donations outside of those participating.

Students can enter for $5 per player and faculty and staff cost $10 per player. Hodge said they know college students do not have a lot to spend, so they wanted to keep it a reasonable price while still raising money for the scholarship.

Along with supporting first generation students at UCO, the Student Ambassadors are also hoping to promote their own organization as an active group on campus. Hodges said that many people are unaware of what the Ambassadors do outside of providing campus tours and that often they are mistaken for UCO’s Orientation Leaders.

It’s kind of discouraging, you feel like you do so much but you do not get any recognition,” Arcivar said. “We literally are the face of UCO and we see and talk to prospective students who might come in.”

Amity Smith, director of Campus Tours, said there were some ambassadors who visit high schools and talk to eighth graders about their own UCO experiences. She also said that many Ambassadors are involved in recruitment activities that go above and beyond what the organization requires.

“It’s interesting to see this year that our ambassadors not only want to bring students to campus, with this fundraising effort going back to the campus, they are wanting students to be successful while they are on campus,” Smith said. “They are making first impressions and also, in a roundabout way, helping students who otherwise may be struggling on financial needs.”

Arcivar said some of the ambassadors said they want to be a part of the decision-making process on campus. With ambassadors playing larger roles at other universities, Arcivar said that prospective students see that and he would like that reflected at UCO as well.

“A lot of us decided to be Student Ambassadors because we have a lot of passion for UCO, we want to help others to come our university,” Hodge said. “We are giving campus tours, but are also there to talk to them about why we chose UCO.”

Hodge also said that this tournament is their first real event as a student organization and she is excited to see how can they become a bigger organization. She said they are wanting to make this tournament an annual event that would benefit a different scholarship each year, depending on which one is in the need.

For more information about the basketball tournament, contact Smith at 405-974-5331 or asmith213@uco.edu. You can also visit their Instagram page at uco_studentambassadors to learn more about the organization.

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