Welcome Ambassador walks the walk and talks Purdue traditions
By Cheyenne Dunn
Throughout her college career, Sarah Voglewede has volunteered her time (including some of her weekends) to teaching visitors about Purdue. She walks for hours at a time and memorizes university history in hopes of educating someone about agriculture.
“Last year I gave a tour to a group of fifth-graders from Chicago,” she said. “I told them that my major was agriculture, and one of the little boys was surprised that’s something you actually learn about.”
Voglewede is a senior agronomy: agronomic business and marketing and agribusiness: agricultural marketing major and Purdue Welcome Ambassador from Pittsboro, Indiana. Ambassadors show visitors — from middle-school students to VIPs — around campus. She said she became an ambassador because it allowed her to reach visitors who don’t know much about where their food comes from, like the boy from Chicago. Thanks to her, not only do the people on her tours learn about Purdue, they also learn that food doesn’t just show up in a grocery store.
“It makes me feel good to know that after four years, I can share my knowledge and help people get the most out of Purdue,” Voglewede said.
Being an ambassador doesn’t just help visitors. Voglewede said being an ambassador also helped her overcome some of her own fears about campus.
“I was so shy during my freshman year that I almost didn’t go to the interview to be an ambassador,” she said. “Being in this role has really helped me come out of my shell.”
Today, Voglewede, who was once too shy to interview in front of a few people, is confident leading groups of two to 20 strangers and telling them all about herself and campus. But what she really loves about the role is hearing Purdue alumni share their experiences about when they were on campus.
“During the tour with the vet school group, I mentioned that the student population at Purdue was up to 41,000,” said Voglewede. “A few of the vets in the back yelled out that when they were students in 1968, the student population was 13,000 at most. They couldn’t imagine this many students being on campus.”
Voglewede said the most special tours are those where it is just her and a guest. That’s because she can personalize the experience — there’s no script, just connecting with an individual. She said she once spent two hours showing a visitor from Kenya everything Purdue had to offer simply because she had the time.
“I enjoy giving these types of tours because they allow me to take the information I have and present it in a way that my audience will appreciate most,” Voglewede said. “It gives me a chance to show them Purdue in a unique and personal way.”
After graduation, Voglewede said she would like to continue reaching people who do not have agricultural backgrounds by eventually working in a consumer behavior setting. Though being an ambassador keeps her schedule full now, she said it has given her practical experience in working with consumers.
“You might have all of the knowledge in the world,” she said. “But if you can’t apply it, your education isn’t what it could be.”