Undergraduates Give Back to College as CALS Ambassadors


Science students, like those majoring in biochemistry, aren’t just tucked away in research labs. They also participate in making their college a better and more welcoming place for current and potential students. Gina Luu and Ryan Rebernick, both biochemistry undergraduates, are serving as College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) Ambassadors for the 2016-17 academic year.

CALS Ambassadors serve as a bridge between current students and incoming and prospective students. They serve as CALS-focused tour guides for interested students coming to check out the college. They also call incoming or prospective students to answer their questions, among other activities.

Photo of Ryan Rebernick“When I was a prospective student, I came for one of the days where we ‘shadow’ a current student and follow them around and honestly that’s what sealed the deal for me,” says Rebernick, a senior. “When I then started in CALS, I knew I wanted to get involved and give that experience to other students so I applied to be an ambassador.”

The program allows students to get a feel for what being a student at UW–Madison and CALS specifically is really like. The students serve in their role for an entire academic year, giving presentations, tours, and more.

“I think it’s interesting to meet different people and see the process they use for choosing where to attend university,” Luu says. “I remember going through that, and being able to make it easier for someone else is always the best part of being an ambassador.”

Cindy Fendrick, who coordinates the program for CALS, says that when searching for good ambassadors, she is interested in students who want to share their experiences with others.

“Gina and Ryan are both passionate about sharing their personal stories with prospective families and students,” she says. “They have both been committed to engaging in various events we host. They challenged themselves to learn and become comfortable in many situations, and I have watched them both grow personally and professionally.”

Photo of Gina LuuFendrick adds that biochemistry is a popular major so the perspective of two ambassadors from the department is a great benefit to the program. The two are able to share personal stories to help demonstrate the possibilities that come with being a biochemistry major. Luu, a sophomore, is an undergraduate researcher in the lab of biochemistry professor Katie Henzler-Wildman. Rebernick is part of a lab at the VA Hospital and is also an EMT on campus. He plans to pursue an MD/Ph.D. program.

“We are always looking for great ambassadors, and the 2017-18 search process will open mid-spring,” Fendrick adds. “Students should watch for an email coming from the CALS Academic Affairs office. It’s a great way for students to share the CALS student prospective.”