Diversity Ambassadors Do the Work to Increase Student Diversity 

Posted Feb 22, 2024

By Maggie Nicol ’25 

Diversity is important to a university community because it allows students to encounter new viewpoints and perspectives, challenge beliefs, and consider other perspectives in a respectful manner. It also prepares students to work with a variety of people in their future careers. At Otterbein, students like D’Andre Person ’26 are doing important work to make the campus a more diverse place as a Diversity Ambassador. With this role, Person helps prospective students to ensure they feel heard, valued, and that they belong at Otterbein.

What is a Diversity Ambassador?  

D’Andre: A Diversity Ambassador is a student that comes from an underrepresented demographic that focuses on helping high schoolers who also come from these underrepresented backgrounds enter Otterbein.    

Why did you become a Diversity Ambassador?  

D’Andre: I became a Diversity Ambassador because I wanted to show black and queer students that they belonged in college as much as their peers. I remember during my college search feeling alienated from every campus I visited. They were beautiful places, but the student body looked nothing like me. They could not relate to my lived experience, nor did they face the same barriers I did that made going to college seem unrealistic. I almost tricked myself into thinking that only a certain type of person was welcomed in higher education. Each time that I meet a new student or get a chance to talk about my journey to Otterbein, I hope to show the prospective students that there are people who see those barriers and are willing to help find a path to college because they are worth the effort.   

What do you do as a Diversity Ambassador?  

D’Andre: As a Diversity Ambassador, I work closely with (Otterbein’s Coordinator of Urban Districts Initiatives) Michelle Armour to design events that give high school students the opportunity to tour Otterbein and connect them with other students on campus who come from underrepresented backgrounds. We often organize the agenda for the day, lead tours around campus for the high schoolers, host the activities (such as student panels and trivia games), create the promotional material for the events, and coordinate with high school counselors throughout central Ohio to ensure that many high schools in the area get the opportunity to attend the events we hold.  

We also travel to high schools to bring the college experience directly to the students. This work is important because many of these students never get the opportunity to tour any college campus or have conversations with current college students due to lack of mobility, low socio-economic status, lack of access to information about college, and many more hurdles. Right now, I am working on an event called Early Birds with my fellow Diversity Ambassador Giana Jenkins, where we will bring a group of 8th graders to Otterbein to get them thinking about college sooner rather than later.   

What is it like to be a Diversity Ambassador?   

D’Andre: You become one of the many possible faces that represent Otterbein and many students’ first impression of the campus, so sometimes it can feel like being a celebrity since students that you meet during high school visits or other events will remember you. Other times, you are a cheerleader for the prospective and incoming students as you connect students with resources on campus and root for their success as they begin their journey through higher education.   

How would you describe diversity, equity, and inclusion at Otterbein?  

D’Andre: Otterbein is still a predominantly white institution. There is no denying that fact. However, there are spaces on campus and within the community where students of all identities can find people who can understand them. From cultural organizations like Black Student Union, Heritage of Latino Americans, Muslim Student Association, Men of Vision, Sisters United, and FreeZone. To gender-inclusive fraternities and sororities like Tau Delta, Pi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Delta Phi. Otterbein is growing to become a more diverse campus, and still has a long way to go.   

Why is it important to have a more diverse student population at Otterbein?  

D’Andre: It is important to have a more diverse student population at Otterbein to properly prepare students for what life will be like after college. They will not enter a job field or live in an area that is entirely comprised of one type of person. Once students graduate, they will be thrust into a world of competing values, distinct cultures, various faiths, and numerous identities. To navigate a complex world like that, students should not only be aware of these differences, but actively embrace them by being in a community with a diverse student population.  

What is your favorite part of the job?  

D’Andre: My favorite part of the job is watching the students that I meet during my high school visits enroll at Otterbein and find their place on campus. Knowing that I helped them make a home for themselves at Otterbein makes all the work that I do in the Office of Admission and out in the field worth it.   

Can you share any memorable moments from being a diversity ambassador?  

D’Andre: My favorite moment being a Diversity Ambassador so far has been running the Connections Program, where we invite different high school students to campus and give them a glimpse of the Otterbein experience. It never fails to put a smile on my face when I learn the interests of the students in my tour group and show them the programs and organizations that match that interest. In my downtime, I have a lot of fun hanging out with the other Diversity Ambassadors outside of my office hours and before our monthly staff meetings. There was a day when a group of us all decided to take an impromptu trip to Meijer just for their slushies right before our meeting. We ended up getting caught in traffic and arrived a little late, but the detour was worth it.

Why did you choose Otterbein?

D’Andre: I chose Otterbein not only because they gave me the most financial aid, but also the connections I made with the professors and other students. Plus, Otterbein is in central Columbus so I will never be too far from home. I was unsure if I wanted to go to college at all originally since I was wary about how I would pay for school and whether I would feel welcomed, but I have no regrets about my choice.