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Fund for WCU enables leadership, public speaking training for Chancellor’s Ambassadors

chancellor's ambassadors


By Bill Studenc

Members of the Chancellor’s Ambassadors, an organization of students who assist Western Carolina University Chancellor Kelli R. Brown at selected events on and off campus, received specialized leadership and public speaking training last semester to assist them in their roles as student representatives.

The training was made possible through an 1889 Impact Grant of $3,000 awarded by the Fund for WCU for spring 2023.

Funds were used to bring in a keynote speaker for the Chancellor’s Ambassadors Retreat, titled “Speak to Influence and Lead with Barrie Barton, Speaking Coach, Educator and TEDx.” As part of the retreat’s activities, the student ambassadors experienced a presentation followed by training on mastering the art of speaking.

The session was intended to help the students speak to strangers with more confidence and also to encourage them to become great leaders, said Amber McKendrick of the WCU Office of Special Events, who serves as staff adviser to the Chancellor’s Ambassadors.

“It was important for our Chancellor’s Ambassadors to experience this training to develop their leadership, professional and networking skills. This promoted academic excellence within the organization and provided skills and opportunities to prepare the students for success as a student and as they prepare for their professional careers,” McKendrick said.

“By offering the Chancellor’s Ambassadors this opportunity, we are providing them with the resources they need to reach their potential at Western Carolina University and beyond,” she said.

The Chancellor’s Ambassadors is a volunteer student organization developed to promote and strengthen Catamount pride on and off campus, assist the chancellor at high-profile events and provide students an opportunity for professional networking with prominent WCU alumni and community leaders. 

Launched in 2021, the 1889 Impact Grants Program is designed to provide a consistent source of funding for colleges and other units at WCU in support of initiatives that enhance the engagement of alumni and community stakeholders with the philanthropic activities of the university.

Funding for the program comes from annual contributions to the Fund for WCU, including leadership gifts from members of the 1889 Club, which recognizes donors for gifts made on an annual basis to the Fund for WCU. The club, among four giving societies established by the Division of Advancement to celebrate the impact of philanthropy on the institution, is named in honor of the year of WCU’s founding.

Campus partners requested more than $200,000 in 1889 Impact Grants through 16 campuswide grant applications for the 2022-2023 academic year, and the Division of Advancement allocated $43,500 overall for eight awards, a slight increase from the inaugural $40,000 in grant funding awarded last year.

The WCU Foundation Board Executive Committee reviews all submissions and selects the awardees in the fall of each year. In addition to the 1889 Impact Grants Program, the Fund for WCU provides first-year access scholarships to new incoming freshmen and supports ongoing donor stewardship efforts.

Learn more about how the Fund for WCU and 1889 Impact Grants provided support for this project.

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