Student Ambassadors and Peer Leaders: The Faces of Montclair State

As one of New Jersey's largest and most rapidly growing public Universities, Montclair State has to be constantly available to potential and current students. Student Ambassadors and Peer Leaders help greatly in this regard. Student Ambassadors introduce potential new students to life at Montclair State, then Peer Leaders guide them through it. These hard-working, dedicated students help make Montclair State University the diverse, well-informed community it is today.

Student Ambassadors

With 30,000 visitors a year, approximately 60 tours a week, more applications and phone calls than they can count, and of course, their studies, the word busy is certainly an understatement for the Student Ambassadors at Montclair State University. A drive to work hard and maintain a positive attitude is key in this role. “As a Red Hawk, every day is a new opportunity! Our university offers more than just classes, being a Red Hawk is a diverse and exciting experience filled with opportunities of all kinds!” says Melissa Antolovich, a senior.

The group of 64 hand-picked ambassadors are what Fred Stolarski, Visit Experience Coordinator, Undergraduate Admissions, calls "the face of the University." "The ambassadors are really the first, and sometimes the only interaction with a prospective student and their family," he notes. "They are the most important people here".

Besides hand-picked and important, they are also very well-trained. "It's a lengthy process, and very competitive," says Stolarski. The students are hired in the summer and undergo a three-day training course before classes begin. The first day starts off with cross-training, where the group learns about Financial Aid, Residential Education, Customer Service, and LGBTQ resources. After that, optional leadership courses are available to those who wish to participate.

Day two focuses on diversity training, then day three is specialized training and an overview of their job. The final day is capped off with a team-building course. Once training is complete, each ambassador is assigned two mentors - one for tours, and one for office work. Stolarski notes that office work is a huge part of their job description.

For a full semester, their "training" continues as they shadow a more seasoned ambassador on tours. Once an ambassador is cleared by both mentors, he or she is prepared to lead tours on their own, welcoming many new students and families to the Montclair State community. “I am able to represent my school in a positive way. I feel very welcome here as a fellow Red Hawk. I like being a Red Hawk because I am able to soar and fulfill my dreams as a musician. I also feel like an equal as a Red Hawk. I’m proud to be a Red Hawk!” says Ambassador Tom Russo.

For more information or to set up a campus tour, visit the Admissions website.

Peer Leaders

Montclair State University provides countless opportunities for our students to enhance their academic and personal growth. The Peer Leader program is one of those great opportunities. During New Student Orientation, our Peer Leaders serve as invaluable resources that facilitate a positive transition for new students and their families.

Peer Leaders are Montclair State University undergraduate students who possess leadership qualities and have a desire to be first-year student advocates. They provide support during New Student Orientation and other programs. Peer Leaders are committed, hard working, intelligent, resourceful, and enthusiastic students who possess a strong desire to work with a diverse population of first-year students and their family members. Through rigorous training and development, they attain skills that allow them to enhance the quality of the New Student Orientation program on a continual basis. Peer Leaders must integrate their roles as college representatives, community builders, programmers, and student advocates in this position to effectively serve as a liaison between the University and the students it serves.

"A few of our students have been inspired to go into higher education," notes Dr. Michele Campagna, Executive Director for CAST (Center for Advising and Student Transitions). Giovanna Tello, who will be graduating this May, is looking into Graduate School to continue on her path to a career in higher education.

Dr. Campagna notes that part of the reason the group is so committed to their jobs is because of positive experiences they have helping other Montclair State students. It's a rewarding experience to guide a new student through some of the experiences that they themselves had as freshmen. President Cole recognizes the enormous value the Peer Leaders are to the Montclair State community. "Dr. Cole comes to every event that she can. She comes to Opening Session at orientation and speaks to new students and their families in Kasser Theater. She truly loves meeting the students. As the students got to know Dr. Cole, they started asking her questions, such as, what time she starts her day, and what a typical day entails for her."

For more information on the Peer Leadership Program, visit the Center for Advising and Student Transitions website.