On Friday, Allyson Stone ’18 set about a familiar routine. She donned her blue Longwood Ambassadors shirt, and greeted an assembled group of prospective students, parents and other visitors in the lobby of Lancaster Hall. Then she stepped outside into glorious spring sunshine to show them a campus she’s come to know well and love.
But for the senior communication studies major from Virginia Beach, it was a bittersweet moment. With graduation now just a few weeks away, it was her final tour – her last formal occasion as a student to show off Longwood’s campus to those considering following in her footsteps. The Longwood Ambassadors – the volunteer student organization whose duties include leading campus tours – play a critical role in campus life. Often one of the first faces prospective students and parents meet when they visit, Ambassadors have the opportunity to create a lasting impression of Longwood. They convey not just a sense of the place of Longwood and the spirit of the university – buildings, academics, extracurriculars, social life, camaraderie and spirit – but also by example its people. It’s a responsibility they take seriously as they give their dozens and, in some cases, hundreds of tours of campus during their careers.
It’s really special to feel like I played a part in the biggest decision of someone’s life.Allyson Stone ’18 Tweet This
At last, in senior spring, an Ambassador’s final tour becomes one check mark in a series of nostalgic lasts—last class, last trip to D-Hall, last late-night run for food. It’s a poignant moment, and one they’ll never forget.
Tell me about your last tour. How did you feel?
It was really bittersweet. The last tour was a pretty typical group—about 15 people and a mix of high school sophomores and juniors, and we did a pretty normal tour. I told them how special it was to me that they were my final group, and we all took a picture at the end. I don’t know if it’s sunk in that life at Longwood is almost over, but moments like those are pretty special.
What was a memorable moment from your tours?
Sometimes people will come up to me on campus or see me in class and say, “You gave me my tour!” When I became an Ambassador, that type of moment wasn’t on my mind—but it’s really special to feel like I played a part in the biggest decision of someone’s life.
When did you start as an Ambassador?
I’ve been a Longwood Ambassador since my sophomore year, so I’ve been giving tours for three years now. Open house days are the most fun because there are just so many people who show up. This spring, I asked to give a tour to computer science students because a student who lives next to my parents was in the group, and the group ended up being more than 60 people! That was definitely the largest group I’ve been asked to take around.
A big part of what helped me through those first few weeks was getting involved with a couple of organizations and meeting friends that way. My days got busy pretty quickly and, really, they haven’t slowed down!Allyson Stone ’18 Tweet This
Do you prefer large groups or smaller ones?
I actually think that the fewer people, the better the tour. It’s a lot more intimate and you can get to know people over the hour or so you spend with them, and kind of shape the tour to their interests.
What does it mean to be an Ambassador?
It’s a real honor. I feel very privileged to be a part of such a great group of students that has a big impact on campus. I’m really humbled to be around other Ambassadors who are extraordinarily active in the group—sometimes I wish I had their energy and passion!
What’s the most common question you get?
Students generally want to know what there is to do on the weekends, so it’s cool to be able to tell them about all the great stuff around campus. Parents actually have the most questions, and I’d say they ask most about safety on campus and the food options—which are about to get expanded just as I’m graduating (grrr…)!
I’ll always remember the sense of excitement on their faces as they find out more about life in the place they’ll spend the next four years. It’s infectious.Allyson Stone ’18 Tweet This
What’s your favorite part of campus to show to groups?
I love taking groups through Ruffner because there is so much charm to it inside and out. Most of the time I’ll take them out to the front of the building—even though it’s not on the official route—because I just love the view and I think that image sells Longwood really well.
If you could have people take away one thing about Longwood from your tour, what would it be?
How easy it is to get involved. It’s actually pretty easy to get too involved, because of all the organizations here. A story I’ve told tour groups before is my own: I’m very close with my family and the transition to Longwood wasn’t easy. A big part of what helped me through those first few weeks was getting involved with a couple of organizations and meeting friends that way. My days got busy pretty quickly and, really, they haven’t slowed down!
What will you remember most fondly about being a tour guide?
You can always tell when a student has already decided they want to come to Longwood. I’ll always remember the sense of excitement on their faces as they find out more about life in the place they’ll spend the next four years. It’s infectious.