By: Athletic Communications Assistant, Louie Abounader
BEREA, Ohio – Over the last three years, Baldwin Wallace University student-athlete Stephanie Magvas (Westlake/Magnificat) has grown accustomed to a schedule full with responsibilities. The junior jumper on the women's track and field team has been a member of the BW Student Ambassadors program for two years and has participated in some rewarding volunteer experiences that have helped pave the way in her quest to accomplish a longtime dream.
The Student Ambassadors program was established to build and reinforce relationships among BW alumni and the current BW community by supporting the University's mission and by providing opportunities for the personal, social, professional, and philanthropic growth of its members. Wanting to get more involved on campus and already having been a part of a Student Ambassadors program in high school, Magvas decided to look into it.
"We had to complete an online application in the spring semester and then we got invited to a group-like interview at President Helmer's house," Magvas explained. "It was a little nerve-wracking to see if I would get in but once you're in, you'd have the opportunity to get initiated. As members, we could attend our Alumni Encore event in May, where all our alumni come back and the reunion is there. We can also practice talking to them and get to hear some of their stories. It's a really cool experience."
After going through the application and initiation process during her freshman year, Magvas was keen on chasing a bigger role.
"My freshman year, after getting into the program, I applied and ran for a position on the executive board as secretary," Magvas recalled excitedly. "I had to go up in front of the board and speak for a minute, making a case for myself to get the position and I got it!"
Magvas held the title of Secretary of the Student Ambassadors for the remainder of her freshman year, as well as the entirety of her sophomore year. However, entering the 2019 fall semester, she decided to take on a different and more challenging role within the program.
"Talking with one of my friends, we asked ourselves what we should run for this year," Magvas began. "She thought I could be really good at New Membership, where I would basically be recruiting new members to come into the program."
Once she attained the New Membership position, Magvas embraced the role and its many accompanying responsibilities.
"I set up information sessions at the Union Hall as well as our training sessions," Magvas began listing off. "I have a spreadsheet that potential student ambassadors can sign up to work for where they can talk to students around campus to get involved and apply. Then, we'll go through applications that people send in and we'll choose from there who gets to move on to the next phase of the process. I'm kind of the front line of recruiting so it's been a really cool but challenging position. It takes up a lot of my time but we have a really awesome group so it's been very rewarding too."
An early childhood education major, Magvas hopes to one day adopt the self-confidence she has acquired in Student Ambassadors to excel on the opposite spectrum of the classroom.
"I've wanted to be an early childhood education teacher since I was in the third grade," Magvas admitted wholeheartedly. "Student Ambassadors, especially when I was a freshman being kind of shy, it involves a lot of talking and putting yourself out there wanting to communicate with strangers. I think it builds a lot more of confidence in myself in trying to communicate more and in a professional manner as well."
Having participated in volunteer work in the past, Magvas believes that another memorable experience during her freshman year prepared her to spearhead a classroom. She had the opportunity to volunteer at the Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy, where immigrant students can enroll to learn the English language as they try to assimilate to their new lives in the United States.
"I had done some volunteering teaching in the past but I thought this particular experience was really cool because it was an opportunity to work with immigrants," Magvas said. "They put us in a seventh/eighth grade class level. We were only there for an hour each time but within that hour they would put us in small groups and have us work with the students. What I thought was really interesting is that even though it's a seventh or eighth grade class, the students can range from the actual age of a seventh or eighth grader to someone in their 20s or 30s because they might be trying to learn the language."
In addition to her experiences with Student Ambassadors, Magvas believes that her experience at the International Newcomers Academy was just as vital in her growth as an aspiring teacher.
"It really changed my perspective because I'm not certified as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher but wanting to go into general education, I could also have students that are trying to learn English better that may not be very fluent in it, so it was interesting trying to find ways that they could understand me," Magvas pointed out. "I found myself using online translators a lot because they weren't all from the same country. So it was really cool thing to go through and I got a really great experience out of it."
Presently, like many college students across the nation, Magvas has had to make adjustments to her expected curriculum as she was supposed to complete a five-week on-site teaching session to complete her junior year.
"I don't really have too much school work to do during this time, as I would've been in the field teaching the last five weeks of the semester," Magvas expressed with some disappointment. "It's been weird, especially for our department because the professors are accommodating the best they can to supplement that for something else. They're doing a really good job in trying to keep us busy with writing lesson plans and doing online modules."
While the future presents some uncertainty on college campuses across the nation, Magvas is prepared to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that she follows through on a third-grader's dream.