Ruthie Olowoyeye has just started as chair of Northeastern University’s Husky Ambassadors—a student group that gives campus tours to prospective and newly admitted students. Olowoyeye says she’s the first Black, queer person to helm the organization, and they’re already shaking things up.
The Husky Ambassadors used to be one of the largest student volunteer organizations in the country, says Olowoyeye—and now the job is no longer volunteer.
“We’re getting paid,” says Olowoyeye proudly. The accomplishment occurred before most students had shown up for move-in week.
“This is a change that so needs to happen. I’m very excited about it and I’m excited that I’m able to be the face of that,” says Olowoyeye, a fourth-year health science major who uses both she and them pronouns.
Roughly 200 undergraduates will be serving as Husky Ambassadors during the 2021-2022 academic year, and they must complete a four-week training period before they can conduct tours of the Boston campus. Starting this semester, they’ll be paid $15 an hour.
“I’m just glad that everyone can get compensated for the tours that they’re giving and the work that they’re putting in to make these tours great, because it’s a lot of work,” Olowoyeye says.
Olowoyeye should know. They joined the Husky Ambassadors their first year at Northeastern and has remained active in the group ever since. Now that she’s chair, Olowoyeye says she has an opportunity to honor the group’s traditions and encourage the participation of underrepresented communities.
“It’s super important to provide representation, especially because Northeastern is a predominantly white institution, and when it comes to bigger organizations like Husky Ambassadors, you don’t see a lot of people who look like me or identify like me in leadership positions,” says Olowoyeye. “I think it’s really great that I have the opportunity to kind of be a trailblazer.”
The 2021 undergraduate class is one of the most diverse in the university’s history, according to an announcement released by administration leaders this summer. The university also launched diversity dashboards that reflect Northeastern’s community and continued commitment to create an inclusive space.
“Our student leadership council this year is probably one of the most diverse we‘ve had, which is super great just because Husky Ambassadors has a similar makeup as the Northeastern community,” says Olowoyeye. “I hope that as chair I can help more people of color and Black people and queer people feel as though they can join Husky Ambassadors and have leadership positions within the organization as well.”
Olowoyeye wants newcomers of all races, genders, and abilities to know they’re welcome.
“One of my main goals of the year is to invite student groups to discuss things like becoming culturally
competent and [confronting] microaggressions so we can break down biases that we might have,” says Olowoyeye.
Plus, Husky Ambassadors get the inside scoop on plenty of little-known facts about the Boston campus, like the underground tunnels that connect most of the major buildings.
“It’s not part of the official Husky Ambassador tour, but it’s such a cool tidbit,” says Olowoyeye.
The best way to shake those newcomer nerves, Olowoyeye says, is making contact.
“Definitely get in touch with the cultural centers if you have an identity that identifies with one of them,” Olowoyeye says. “There are a lot of really great organizations that want to make sure you have a sense of community here at Northeastern.”
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