With their trademark green sport coats, the USF Ambassadors work under the Alumni Association and directly with the Office of the President to serve as the student face on campus for events.
Although this will mark the 40-year anniversary, changes to the organization and university are making this a year to remember.
With 15 out of 30 ambassadors graduating and USF President Judy Genshaft’s retirement, the organization is going to look very different next year.
On Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the Gibbons Alumni Center, the USF Ambassadors will conduct their annual meet and greet to reach out to prospective candidates.
Latoya Wider, associate director of Student Relations, said the event will give students an opportunity to learn more about what the program will offer.
“We try to make it casual and light,” Wider said. “We give a short program about the overview of the organization and then the last hour is about mingling to get to know each other.”
Wider said the USF president invites the ambassadors to attend their hosted events such as the Commencement Brunch and the Iron Bull reception, which is a partnership with USF Athletics donors.
Genshaft is heavily involved in the recruitment process because the university president conducts the final interview and chooses the candidates.
However, this will be Genshaft’s last recruitment year since she will be retiring July 1.
Wider said she hopes that the new president will continue the relationship that the previous system presidents have had with the ambassadors.
“The president has been involved since the beginning of the organization, so our hope is that it will continue with the next,” Wider said.
This recruitment year is bittersweet for President of the USF Ambassadors Gina Rotunno because of Genshaft’s announcement to step down, but she is still hopeful for the future.
“While President Genshaft has had a huge role in my time as an ambassador, ultimately our role is to serve the university and community, so we’ll keep forging ahead with the new president,” Rotunno said.
In 1979, former Executive Director of the Alumni Association Joe Tomaino created the USF Ambassadors so that students could be represented at campus events.
The USF Ambassadors serve all three campuses. Currently, 30 people are located at the Tampa campus, 10 at St. Petersburg and 12 at Sarasota-Manatee.
The requirements to apply include taking a minimum of 12 credit hours at USF, a minimum of a 2.7 GPA and two recommendation letters. The deadline to submit is Feb. 5 at 11:59 p.m.
The accepted candidates will then undergo a six to seven-week interview process.
After being accepted, Wider said the candidates are invited to a group interview with ambassador members, other students who have applied and herself.
The prospective students will have their individual interviews and if chosen, their final interview with President Genshaft will occur on March 19.
Typically, Wider said about 125 applicants are received every academic year.
The Alumni Association determines a feasible number of students to recruit based on the budget and the number of graduates for the year. Wider said the recruitment team typically aims to have about 30 to 34 total students.
Even though half of the group is graduating, Wider said a recruitment number is not definitive.
According to Wider, the Alumni Association scouts for students with different majors, backgrounds and cultures to diversify the organization.
“That’s what makes it such a special program,” Wider said. “(The organization) represents the population of the university.”
Accepted into the organization as a freshman, Rotunno said she was unsure whether she had enough experience to make an impression. As one of the 15 students graduating, she said students should take the chance to apply to gain interview experience and build connections.
“This has been the most important part of my collegiate career,” Rotunno said. “I’ve made the best friendships I’ve ever had and have been greatly impacted by it.”