Rarely do admission officers get to deliver good news in person. Such was not the case last Wednesday evening. I have the good fortune and absolute pleasure of supervising our campus tour guides and in order to make the group more social and cohesive (it’s a large group of over 100 current students) this year we decided to have a special initiation ceremony for the new hires. Tour guides are hired each fall and begin their work each spring.
Each academic year we hire approximately 35 new, eager students who are dying to share their love of the College with prospective students and who, hopefully, have a penchant for walking backwards.
Fraternities have initiation processes ritualized so what some like to call the Tau Gamma fraternity (get it, Tour Guides) borrowed a page from the Greek-letter-organization handbook. Often, fraternity inductions begin with “shakes” which can be anything from a handshake to a literal shaking of the new member (usually the new member is lifted by the veteran members and carried to the organization’s home). At 7:30 last Wednesday evening, about 35 veteran tour guides showed up complete with music, holiday lights, and lots of energy. In the lobby of the Admission Office they battled with each other to determine who would get to “shake” who. They quickly retrieved their assignments and spread out all over campus. Armed with congratulatory certificates and lots of enthusiasm, they knocked on room doors and proceeded to initiate our new guides. Some guides were blindfolded on their walk to the Admission Office for a social. Others had their tour guide application questionnaire read aloud to all of their hallmates. Other guides were welcomed to the Admission Office under a makeshift canopy (read: veteran tour guides linking hands over the new guides’ heads). Eventually, all new members were herded back to the Admission Office for a formal welcome from me and for a social. Thankfully all arrived unharmed and no worse for wear though I wager some were a little embarrassed or even a bit nervous about what they had gotten themselves into. But that is what makes the tour guides so special. They are a diverse group of engaging, intellectual, and dedicated students who have energy, spirit, and enthusiasm to spare.
As I greeted the group of new and veteran guides, the veteran guides started chanting my name and clapping. At that moment I am sure I turned absolutely red as I was overcome with emotion. I was honored, I was happy, I was in awe. This is why I do what I do. I have the opportunity each year to help create a class of students at one of the nation’s preeminent universities. Some of those students I have admitted were a part of the group clapping and chanting my name. Others were those who were just invited to join our select little fraternity. Still others may join in the future and even those who don’t, I know they will be making other students and faculty feel just as I did. I am constantly amazed by the presence, intelligence, and creativity of our current students. They inspire me to come to work every day and to continue the work that I do.
– Wendy Livingston