Baylor Ambassadors aim to represent student voice
Meeting with political stars and attending prestigious events may seem unlike the usual day of a college student, but these events are just a typical part of the itinerary for this Baylor Ambassadors.
San Antonio senior Braden Allman, president of Baylor Ambassadors, said the group’s purpose is to be a voice for the students on Baylor’s campus by working closely with the Office of Government Relations on Baylor’s campus in a variety of capacities.
“In general, we represent the student voice on government issues,” Allman said. “In addition, we also aid in hosting dignitaries that visit Baylor’s campus and lobby for issues that affect students on Baylor’s campus statewide and nationally.”
Houston senior Carnell Emanuel wrote in an email to the Lariat the job description of a member of Baylor Ambassadors is diverse, ranging from advocating for issues that are important to students on the Baylor campus to hosting political celebrities when they visit Baylor’s campus.
“When traveling to Austin or D.C., Baylor Ambassadors serve as representatives of Baylor University and their interests,” Emanuel wrote. “When an official visits the campus, we also provide additional support in accommodating their needs.”
Emanuel wrote ambassadors generally help during President and Chancellor Ken Starr’s OnTopic discussions. When President Obama was on campus for the West Memorial, the ambassadors helped with the president’s security detail, he wrote.
Allman said advocating for student financial aid allows him to raise awareness for the issues directly affecting the students on the Baylor campus.
“We are a voice for the student population, even if they do not realize that we are,” Allman said. “We met with Senator Ted Cruz and Senator John Cornyn while in D.C., but we also met with their staff, who are often the brains of Congress behind the scenes. If you can convince the congressional staff of your points, you can often convince their congressman.”
Baylor Ambassadors returned on Feb. 7 from a trip to Washington, D.C., where the group saw success in the time spent lobbying and advocating for research funding for the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative and increased student financial aid.
Katy senior Bonnie Cantwell said the Baylor Ambassadors trip to Washington D.C. was effective and she said believes they were able to convey their messages at the right time to some of the nation’s most influential voices.
“Our meetings in D.C. were amicable and informative,” Cantwell said in an email to the Lariat. “We are hopeful for the preservation of federal financial aid and increased research funding in the coming fiscal year. As ambassadors, we aim to articulate the concerns of Baylor students and represent the spirit of the university and achieving this goal equates to a successful trip.”
Since the spring of 1982, when Baylor Ambassadors was created, a large portion of the student organization’s time has been spent advocating for Tuition Equalization Grant, also known as TEG, which seeks to provide grant aid to students to enable them to attend private, nonprofit colleges or universities in Texas.
“We work with TEG a large percentage of the time, which aids students who go to private universities,” Allman said “The grant allows more Texas students to attend universities that might be a better fit for them than state universities.”
Allman said the diversity within Baylor Ambassadors makes the group well rounded and balanced.
“We are all using the specific areas that we are good at in order to help make a difference,” Allman said. “We are not all political science majors. In fact, probably only one-half to one-third are. We have a diverse group, but we are all students who are interested in government issues, especially those that directly affect us as students.”