Deans Ambassadors

Virtual diplomats

Dean's Ambassador Aloki Patel is currenty quarantined at her aunt's home in Albany, Georgia.
By Deserae E. del Campo

Dean's Ambassador Aloki Patel is currenty quarantined at her aunt's home in Albany, Georgia.

Virtual diplomats

By Deserae E. del Campo
The Dean’s Ambassadors program is adapting to virtual connectivity and support.

Assisting incoming freshman prepare for college and hosting high school tours on campus are just a few of the responsibilities carried out by the Dean’s Ambassadors, a group of outstanding students who represent the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences at on-campus receptions and events.

Yet, these social, in-person responsibilities have dramatically changed for the Dean’s Ambassadors, who are now adapting to online learning from home and the uncertainty surrounding their return to campus.  

“Despite these difficult times, now more than ever our role as Dean’s Ambassadors is to maintain a degree of connection with the University’s different populations, and to serve as a resource that aims to help foster transparency and stress relief for the College’s current and future students,” said Miles Pendleton, a junior majoring in Africana Studies, and one of 12 ambassadors.

Emily Long, assistant dean for student academic services, is thinking broadly and effectively for ways to create cyber projects and virtual meet-ups that help the ambassadors continue to transition to virtual connectivity.

“We have a phenomenal group of Dean’s Ambassadors who are doing their best to stay connected with other each other and their classmates,” said Long. “They have stepped into uncharted waters and their roles have definitely changed into a digital one. Although they are not walking around campus giving tours for high school students, they are now behind a screen answering questions and sharing all the things that are possible at the U.”

Aloki Patel, a junior majoring in biology and criminology, notes that their fundamental role has not faltered. “However, our modes of doing this have transitioned from in-person to virtual outlets. It has been a relatively flexible and rapid transition under Dean Long’s supervision and guidance.”

The new initiatives include scheduled Zoom webinars for the Future ’Cane Day event, which is normally held on campus. Dean’s Ambassadors are also using an interactive email account to answer questions from admitted students. The ambassadors are also participating in virtual events and signing postcards with encouraging and personalized messages to future UM students. Patel adds that the ambassadors are on a rotational, weekly schedule to check and responds to emails.

“What I have learned through this experience is that there are many ways for us to stay intimately connected—despite physical separation and trying emotional circumstances,” said Pendleton “While there is nothing that can fully make up for or replace direct face-to-face contact and communication, in the times where that is not possible, we have the resources that enable the continuation and growth of a strong and caring community.”