Mason Ambassadors Lead the Way During Summer Break

Posted: July 9, 2014 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: July 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

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By Sudha Kamath

Soaking in the surf, embarking on a global adventure or just relaxing with their families may be how many college students spend their summer, but some George Mason University Ambassadors are so dedicated, they’re staying on campus to lead prospective students and their families on tours for the Office of Admissions.

“I love talking to and meeting new people,” says Juan Diego Lopez, a rising sophomore majoring in civil engineering who’s volunteering to guide high school juniors and seniors on about two to three tours a week on the Fairfax Campus this summer.

Juan Diego Lopez changed his summer plans so he could conduct campus tours. Photo by Creative Services.

Lopez also conducts tours on Fridays and weekends during the regular school year. He is part of a select group of students called the Mason Ambassadors. They not only lead campus tours, but they also are leaders in academics, and in on- and off-campus organizations, nonprofits and athletics.

Lopez is originally from Puerto Rice and grew up in Chester Springs, Pa. He adjusted his schedule this summer to stay in Fairfax and conduct campus tours. “I get to do something I love and get to help people through the college decision process,” he says. “If I can help in any way then I know I’ve done my job as a tour guide.”

Fairfax Campus tours are held year-round at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; and at 10 and 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. In the summer, the number of visitors ranges from about 15 to 45 for each weekday tour, and about 75 for each Saturday tour. Each Ambassador leads up to 15 visitors. Prospective transfer student tours begin at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. They usually include 40 to 60 people per tour.

Each visit to Mason begins with a half-hour information session in the Admissions Office in the Johnson Center on the Fairfax Campus, followed by an hour-long walk around campus.

Shelby Redd is from New York City. In the fall, she’ll be a second-semester junior majoring in astronomy. Redd has completed a minor in film and media studies. And she’s been putting Mason center stage since she was a freshman, leading 10 to 15 tours per semester during the regular school year.

This summer, she’s staying in Fairfax to conduct around six to eight tours a week. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it for Redd, who knows she’s probably one of the first faces seen by prospective students and their families when they arrive at Mason. She hopes to make a lasting impression. “There have been times when I’ve been really busy and tired because walking around campus for about three hours a day when I give back-to-back tours is exhausting,” Redd says. “But it is something I enjoy. I love seeing people happy, and I get to make people happy every time I give a tour.”

Lopez volunteers to lead tours each week on the Fairfax Campus. Photo by Creative Services.

Tour participants pose some interesting questions pertaining to this time of year. “During the summer a lot of people ask me how cold it gets in Fairfax,” explains Redd. “I’ve had families from Texas, California and Boston ask me this, and that’s not something I normally get during the school year!”

Her favorite part of the tour is the last stop—the iconic Mason statue—where Redd shares her own Mason moments. “There I talk about the Center for the Arts, where I saw the Russian Ballet perform “Swan Lake” for free,” she says, “and the Patriot Center, where I saw and talked to [the rock band] Paramore in the front row. I tell the families my Mason story―why I chose Mason, and why I’m still here.”

Redd also shares how she’s “grown as a person because of my experiences on this campus and because of the people I met. If it wasn’t for the people I met on this campus, I would be a completely different person, and I am so thankful for coming here and meeting the people I’ve come to call my best friends.”

Redd recalls a recent tour during which a young Mason fan’s fervor hit home. “A comment I recently got was from a 6-year-old boy when I was talking about the telescope at Research Hall. He told me that he not only owned a telescope, but a microscope as well,” says Redd. “I was elated. This little boy wanted to go on a college tour at six because he loves science so much, and I loved that so much because I was also his age when I realized I wanted to study astronomy.”

Write to Sudha Kamath at skamath@gmu.edu

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