Not just Hoosiers bleed Sycamore blue anymore.
Indiana State University Alumni Association’s Sycamore Ambassadors program has recently attracted international students to its ranks and fostered their pride in ISU.
Sycamore Ambassadors is composed of a select group of Indiana State students who lend their time to the university. Among this group of students are three international students: Milos Pavlovic from Serbia, Ishaan Vadhera from India and Henry Owegi from Kenya.
The ambassadors serve as an elite leadership group on Indiana State University’s campus. Formally known as the Student Alumni Association, the organization was formed under the direction of the Indiana State University Alumni Association for the purpose of serving as a link between prospective students, alumni, administration, faculty and friends. The Ambassadors support and become involved in the many activities held on campus throughout the year. The organization also keeps alumni in touch with campus life.
Ambassadors receive training in networking, leadership development, and career development. They host many campus events and are able to experience face-to-face networking with alumni, donors, faculty, students and friends of the university. The Sycamore Ambassadors work many of the Alumni Association’s high-profile awards banquets such as the Distinguished Alumni Awards and the G.O.L.D. (Graduate of the Last Decade) Awards. At these events, the ambassadors welcome and network with the award recipients and other guests.
Pavlovic, a junior at Indiana State, is pursuing a degree in insurance and risk management. He learned of Sycamore Ambassadors and its leadership opportunities from his friend, Ishaan Vadhera. From there, Pavlovic became interested in the organization and attended his first meeting.
“At the first meeting that I attended, I was able to quickly see how many different ways I could become involved with Sycamore Ambassadors and the university and all of the many ways that I would be able to learn from the experiences the organization provides,” Pavlovic said.
Pavlovic has seen benefits from joining Sycamore Ambassadors. Although he is now very fluent in English, he could not speak English when he first came to the United States and Indiana State University.
“I was always trying to talk to people and made a continuous effort to improve my language. Sycamore Ambassadors provided me with many communication opportunities that helped me improve my language,” he said.
While Pavlovic heard of the ambassador program from Vadhera, Vadhera first learned about Sycamore Ambassadors from Chris Hancock, immediate past executive director of the Alumni Association, during an orientation session for international students. Vadhera is a sophomore at Indiana State University pursuing a degree in business marketing and economics.
“It is a certain relationship which gives me a sense of belonging here at Indiana State University,” Vadhera said. “It is something that only you can experience and not something that you can make someone else believe. It is a very profound feeling.”
Vadhera said serving as an ambassador has helped to make him proud to be a Sycamore.
“ISU has never let me down in terms of alumni, students, my friends or my teachers,” he said.
“As an ambassador I feel like I joined the right group because we are diverse. We come from different majors, backgrounds, cities, hometowns, and countries. At the same time we are working together towards one goal of telling people and representing ISU and how it is such a great institution. No matter what, we were built in 1865, and since then we have been changing lives.”
Vadhera said serving as a Sycamore Ambassador has changed him personally.
“It made me classy and presentable,” he said. “The fact that I am an ambassador of the Sycamores invests in me so much more responsible behavior. It also made me a very strong advocate of loving ISU. Nothing and no one will ever be able to replace these four years of my life. I am going to be talking about this all of my life, and I am so glad that I have the opportunity to be a part of such a great university. Speaking proudly of ISU gives me so much of a great feeling. I bleed blue—literally.”
Owegi joined Indiana State University in the fall of 2007 as an undergraduate chemistry major.
“ISU was an easy choice for me as it provided a great college experience for my family, three of whom are alumni,” Owegi said.
When Owegi heard about the Sycamore Ambassador program, he wanted to be a part of it.
“I first heard of the Sycamore Ambassadors from my friends Andrew Beaven and Megan Woodsmall. They spoke of the ambassadors with so much passion and how involved they were in exciting campus activities that I felt like I had to be part of the adventure,” he said.
The experience of serving as an ambassador has helped Owegi experience ISU in a different way, he said.
“After our training, and contact with numerous guest speakers during our regular meetings, I gained confidence and found myself being more comfortable initiating conversations with alumni and guests at campus events we hosted. These developments which are both personal and professional made me appreciate ISU even more,” Owegi said.
Jessica Markle is a senior math and math education major from Linton.