Throughout their college careers, students are encouraged to join organizations and leadership opportunities that will enhance their academic journey and prepare them for their careers. Leadership roles and organizations in particular are encouraged to assists students in becoming better leaders on campus and in their communities. Becoming a Resident Assistant, Orientation Leader, Tour Guide or a University Ambassador are one of the many available student positions that are widely recognized and look good on a student’s resume when they begin applying for jobs.
While these positions focus on the success of current students, there is one student organization that is on the rise that is aiming to build a bridge between UWG alumni and its current students.
The University of West Georgia’s Bluecoats is a student ambassador group that represents the student body for the UWG Alumni Association.
Founded in 2013 off of the vision of Dr. Bill Estes, the former Vice President of University Advancement, Bluecoats was established to fill the void between the students and alumni, donors and friends of UWG.
“The Bluecoats were developed to be ambassadors for the Division of University Advancement and to basically bridge a gap between students and their adversaries,” said Kevin Hemphill, advisor to the Bluecoats.
The first group of Bluecoats began their duties in the spring of 2014. Students went through a very selective application process that required them to have a 2.5 GPA, be enrolled at UWG for at least a semester and not planning to graduate before the spring of the upcoming academic year. After submitting their application, students were required to attend two socials with alumni and donors who observed student interactions and their intentions of being in the group. From there, if selected, students go through an interview process, in which the final selection process occurs.
“We look for students who show great leadership, are well intentioned, show humility, have great visibility and show purpose,” said Hemphill. “While GPA and good academic standing is important, we look for individuals that are well rounded as well.”
While they are similar in style to University Ambassadors, the distinction between the two is the target audience. Bluecoats focuses and caters to the alumni and donor audience of the university, while University Ambassadors focus on future and current students.
“University Ambassadors focuses on student recruitment, organizations, visitations and preview days,” said Frank Pritchard, director of the Alumni House. “We did not have a group like them to support what we do here. Kevin [Hemphill] did a good job doing research, creating and investing into a group of students.”
The Bluecoats are required to participate in several events throughout the course of the year; from representing UWG at home football games, graduation and alumni and donor events, to attending outside scholarship galas, such the Board of Regents Scholarship Gala that consist of representatives from other institutions in the state of Georgia.
While it’s a prestigious honor to be a Bluecoat, both Hemphill and Pritchard want each student to have a better understanding of university advancement, the significance of giving back to the university they attended and why the alumni association is important to UWG.
“The funds we raise through our donors and alumni benefits students directly through scholarships and other ways,” said Pritchard. “A lot of their student experience is based off the dollars and the gifts from alumni, and when the students graduate they will become donors as well.”
“We hope that [students] understand better what being apart of the alumni association is all about, as well as student development,” said Hemphill.