Senior Fellows Make Midd Admissions Stand Out

By HANNAH BENSEN

At most colleges and universities, professional admissions officers deliver information sessions to prospective students and their families. Not so at Middlebury, where each year, eight seniors are tasked with serving as the face of the college to the more than 10,000 visitors that come to campus. 

The senior fellows program, founded by Dean of Admissions Greg Buckles, was originally created to fill a staffing shortage created by traveling admissions officers.

“In a nutshell, the senior fellows are the group of seniors who basically are the main public relations agents at the college for the admissions office,” said Sam Prouty, associate director of admissions and the supervisor of the fellowship program. “The public can hear directly from someone who is about to get out of here who is an example of what Middlebury education might look like. It almost feels like they are living the life of a Middkid for a day.”

In addition to leading hour-long information sessions, senior fellows are responsible for working at open house events, performing administrative duties and assisting admissions with various programs and projects. They are given flexibility in the information they choose to share and represent a diverse cross-section of the student body — an intentional effort on the part of the Admissions Office.

“We want a group of people who, added up, represent as much of the college as possible,” Prouty said. “We don’t want them all to be neuroscience majors and we don’t want them all to be cross country runners.”

I’m really honest about Midd in my sessions. I don’t sugarcoat things that don’t need to be sugar coated, and I don’t lie about some of the college’s more negative characteristics.”

— Senior Fellow Kahari Blue ’19

“I’m really honest about Midd in my sessions,” said Senior Fellow Kahari Blue ’19. “I don’t sugarcoat things that don’t need to be sugar coated, and I don’t lie about some of the college’s more negative characteristics. But my audiences seem to love that.”

Separately, Blue worked with the Institutional Diversity Committee of the SGA to create a Student Ambassador program. The program allows students from underrepresented communities to give short information sessions at local high schools when they are home over breaks. 

“I have met many wide-eyed, ambitious high school students who are so enthusiastic about joining this community, which makes me optimistic the student body will be in good hands when I leave in a couple of months,” Blue said. 

Both Blue and Hollie Haigh ’19, also a fellow, said that participating in the fellowship improved their public speaking skills. They also enjoy helping to plan programs like Preview Days and Discover Middlebury, which allows high school seniors from traditionally under-represented groups to visit Middlebury. 

“To have your say in how certain programs or events are going to work is cool because we are the current students and we are influencing what the next generation of students are going to be involved in or be interested in,” Haigh said. “It feels very genuine from our part.” 

To have your say in how certain programs or events are going to work is cool because we are the current students and we are influencing what the next generation of students are going to be involved in or be interested in.”

— Senior Fellow Hollie Haigh ’19

Last Friday, Haigh gave an information session to a school group of about 30 students and their teacher who drove 1,500 miles from Arkansas to tour various East Coast schools. Haigh said she enjoyed connecting with prospective students and sharing anecdotes from her time at Middlebury, including her misadventures from study abroad in Uruguay when she fell off a bus and hurt her ankle. 

Teddy Gold ’16 said that the skills he learned as a Senior Fellow have been relevant in his career. 

“The program … stands out as some of the best program management I have experienced in the few jobs I’ve had out of college,” Gold wrote in an email to former supervisor Prouty, which was shared with The Campus. “For me, (it) was a year-long crash course in public speaking, narrative storytelling, and persuasive communication,”

The feedback from visitors has been positive. 

“We have heard overwhelmingly that people enjoy connecting with students,” Prouty said. “I think it feels more topical and up to date to hear from somebody who is literally in the midst of a job search about where they are and what the CCI (Center for Careers and Internships) is doing to help them conduct that search.”

Members of the class of 2020 and 2020.5 who are interested in being a Senior Fellow can apply online at the Student Employment Office Website. The application is due this Sunday, March 24. Students can email Prouty with questions about the paid fellowship at sprouty@middlebury.edu. 

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