ALMA — In recognition of the invaluable role members of the Alma College Ambassador Program® play in advancing the college’s mission through their volunteerism, Alma College recently named the recipients of its 2020 Outstanding Ambassador Awards.
Leslie Burgess ’85, Garnet Johnson ’03, Ronda Guimond ’96 and John Wilson ’90 received this year’s awards.
Established in 2015, the Alma College Ambassador Program® is a comprehensive effort to organize, support, and promote all types of volunteerism. Since its inception, the program has garnered unprecedented support among alumni, parents and friends of the college and, in the process, has helped to redefine the college’s culture of engagement and philanthropy. Over the last five years, more than 600 ambassadors have volunteered at admissions events, an additional 600 have helped with career events and hundreds of ambassadors have mentored students, visited with classes and spoken at events on campus while also referring more than 400 job and internship opportunities. As part of the signature component of the program, ambassadors have referred 5,249 prospective students to Alma.
Now more than 4,900 members strong, the Alma College Ambassador Program® is the largest and most distinguished volunteer engagement program among private liberal arts colleges in the United States.
“Ambassadors have had a transformative impact on Alma College,” said Matt vandenBerg, vice president for advancement and external relations at Alma College. “Ambassadors positively influence nearly every aspect of campus life, from recruitment and career readiness to academics and extracurricular programs. This year’s recipients of the Outstanding Ambassador Award are exemplars of leadership and generosity who embody the spirit of the program by leveraging their unique skills to help students and their college in meaningful and manageable ways.”
Burgess, a 1985 graduate, is a member of the global languages faculty at Hastings High School in Hastings, Minnesota, and serves on the Alma College Alumni Advisory Board.
As an ambassador, Burgess has gone above and beyond in a number of ways. She has referred high school students, called admitted but non-deposited students and assisted with the college’s annual homecoming Career Expo, as well as several mock interview events with current students.
As a former member of the Peace Corps, Burgess also serves as a resource for Alma College students considering the Peace Corps after graduation. Although a number of the students Burgess has referred to Alma are rising high school seniors and have yet to make their college choice, one of the students will be a part of Alma College’s entering class this fall.
Johnson is a 2003 graduate of Alma College who continues to live in the city and serves as director of remediation services at Triterra, an environmental consulting firm based in Lansing.
Johnson is recognized for his assistance with new student recruitment and career support for current students. He has served on numerous panel discussions during admissions events, including the annual STEM Day, and established an annual summer internship program at Triterra specifically for Alma College students.
Guimond graduated from Alma College in 1996 and serves on the college’s Alumni Advisory Board. She has a background in the marketing field and is also a certified instructor in Pilates and yoga, working with three fitness and wellness centers in the metro Detroit area.
Over the past two years, Guimond served as a mentor and provided career advice to several students while also utilizing her professional connections to make direct career connections for four students. In addition to individualized career support, Guimond referred 50 internship or job opportunities in organizations in which there was a direct Alma College alumni connection or in which she could serve as the network connection with the employer.
After graduating from Alma College in 1990, Wilson received a juris doctorate degree from the University of Toledo College of Law and established a law practice in Midland.
A former member of the Kiltie Marching Band, Wilson in 2017 agreed to chair the steering committee for a giving circle intended to raise $100,000 to support the band. Wilson championed an effort that resulted in more than 100 alumni and friends making gifts and pledges totaling $112,000.
Most recently, Wilson agreed to serve as the chair of a second committee of volunteers leading the effort to secure gifts in support of the Learning Commons project — the largest single capital project in the college’s history.