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'A friendly face': Carolina Together Ambassadors help support on-campus operations

This semester, the program is accepting applications from students, staff and faculty members.

A student works at the newly implemented pavilion in Polk Place on Sunday, Sep. 6, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students are taking advantage of different study spaces around campus.

If you spot a yellow vest and "How can I help?" badge, make sure you are on your best, COVID-19-safe behavior — you just might win a golden ticket.

With on-campus classes ramping up this week for the spring semester, members of the Carolina Together Ambassadors program are stepping up to provide campus operational support in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rick Wernoski, the senior vice provost for business operations, said the Carolina Together Ambassadors Program’s purpose is to make campus a more welcoming environment, while also providing a community solution to pandemic challenges. 

This semester, the program is accepting applications from students, staff and faculty members. He said staffing will also come from work-study positions for undergraduate students. 

"We’re trying to build our pool around work-studies to create opportunities for them as well, where those positions were limited because of the pandemic,” Wernoski said. 

The ambassadors will provide three main services: 

  • Enforcing social distancing guidelines 
  • Directing traffic flow in and out of buildings 
  • Acting as a customer service resource for students and visitors to the campus 

Ambassadors will also run the golden ticket program, which will allow students and faculty to be rewarded for positive, healthy behavior. Ambassadors will hand out the golden tickets to individuals following community guidelines around campus. Each week, winners will be randomly selected to receive a $25 gift card to a local business partner.

“We know that each member of the Carolina community plays a vital role in promoting health and safety for our fellow students and neighbors,” Wernoski said. “This is a program that we will grow as we go along and evolve to the needs of the campus, helping students navigate the changing campus as well.” 

Student ambassadors Malvika Choudhari and RuthAnne Winston said a major reason why they joined the program was to reach out to the UNC community. 

“It lets me be closer to the community and just be there for them," Choudhari said. "Be someone to talk to and be a friendly face on campus, because I like being around people and I feel like this is a good way to do that."

Choudhari said this opportunity is great for people who have a lot of time on their hands and want to get involved with the community. 

“This is a good patient care experience in a way, you learn bedside manner and just how to talk to people, how to be there for them,” Choudhari said. 

Wernoski said in an email statement that there are more than 50 Carolina Together Ambassadors, with the team expected to grow to over 100 ambassadors in the next couple of months. 

The program has already hired 10 work-study students and will continue to interview and hire students, Wernoski said.  

Winston said being an ambassador is similar to being in an event management position. She recommended it for students looking to get experience in logistical and administrative work. 

“Really, anyone, whatever major, can find a way for it to benefit them and learn new things,” Winston said.  

For those who are looking to join the program, Winston advised simply bringing a positive attitude. 

"Just be willing to help people and answer questions,” she said. “I don’t think it’s an extensive application. It’s easy to join.”

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