With the Pride of Lions

Penn State Lion Ambassadors know that a commitment to the University is life long. Through the connections they make with prospective and current students, alumni, and friends, they foster a University rich with tradition and full of pride.

"Okay, so if I'm about to hit anything behind me, please yell," Penn State Lion Ambassador Darina Nuri calls out as she begins to walk backwards, leading a tour group of prospective students and their families past Penn State's Intramural Building. 

Fellow ambassador Brandon Johnson adds, "Yeah, last week I ran into a pole!" 

Two Lion Ambassadors pose in front of Old Main at an open house event.

Lion Ambassadors' Old Main Open House Event

Lion Ambassadors Stacia Hollingsworth and Cody Lind pose in front of Old Main at this year's open house event. Each spring, the Lion Ambassadors hold an Old Main Open House to bring Penn Staters and the community together for an inside look at one of the University's most iconic buildings.

Image: Lion Ambassadors

Nuri and Johnson are two out of more than a hundred Lion Ambassadors, a group of students tasked with communicating Penn State's history, upholding its traditions, and instilling its pride in current and future students, alumni, and friends. 

The Penn State Lion Ambassadors, a student group of the Penn State Alumni Association, are well known for the tours they lead for the Office of Admissions—in particular, their ability to walk backwards across campus while relaying a wealth of information and a number of little-known facts about the University. 

Two students walk backwards to lead a campus tour group.

Lion Ambassadors Lead a Campus Tour

Walking backwards is just one piece of the job description, but Penn State Lion Ambassadors do it with ease. Here, Brandon Johnson and Darina Nuri lead a group of prospective students and their families across campus while providing them with a wealth of information about what it's like to be a Penn Stater.

Image: Michelle Bixby

Typically, a pair of Lion Ambassadors will lead about three to five tours each month. That means a lot of Penn State students received their first glimpse of life at the University through the eyes of a Lion Ambassador.

And you don't have to look far to find evidence of the ambassadors' impact. At the end of a recent tour, as Nuri ate lunch in East Halls, a current student approached her.

"He said, 'I don't know if you remember me, but you actually gave me my tour last year, and you convinced me to come here. I just wanted to say thank you.'"—Darina Nuri

"He said, 'I don't know if you remember me, but you actually gave me my tour last year, and you convinced me to come here. I just wanted to say thank you,'" she recalls. "Hearing stories like that is awesome, and it makes touring so worth it." 

Not Just Tour Guides

You might think that learning all there is to know about Penn State and sharing that information with prospective students, families, alumni, corporate representatives, and visitors to campus would be more than enough to keep the Lion Ambassadors busy. In reality, though, it's still just a piece of what the Lion Ambassadors do as an organization, says Casey Lindlaw, a senior Risk Management major who serves as president of the group's executive board.

"Our main purpose is to instill that a connection with Penn State is a lifelong commitment."—Casey Lindlaw 

Two students serve cake at the annual Senior Sendoff event.

A Sendoff for Seniors

Lion Ambassadors Jackie Krevitz and Thomas Antoniak serve cake to graduating seniors at the annual University-wide Senior Sendoff. One of the special projects that Lion Ambassadors plan and execute each year, the event commemorates the successes of graduating seniors and connects them with the Penn State Alumni Association.

Image: Lion Ambassadors

"We do so much more than just give tours," explains Lindlaw. "We have six committees within the organization, and each committee puts on a different special project each semester."

These projects include the University-wide Senior Sendoff event held for graduating seniors in the spring; Guard the Lion Shrine, which takes place at the Nittany Lion Shrine each year the night before the Homecoming game; and the Campus Showcase, which provides Penn Staters and the community an opportunity each year to learn more about a different area of campus. Lion Ambassadors are also responsible for the S-Zone at home football games; they pass out the T-shirts to attendees in the student section and ensure the 'S' looks perfect.

"The organization trusts us to carry on these traditions, and we pride ourselves on being the representatives of those traditions."—Casey Lindlaw 

"Our main purpose is to instill that a connection with Penn State is a lifelong commitment," Lindlaw says. "It's at the heart of everything we do as Lion Ambassadors."

All of the Lion Ambassadors' special events aim to bring members of the University and the surrounding community together to share their pride in Penn State.

The Nittany Lion poses in the sundial on the Old Main lawn.

The Nittany Lion at Old Main Open House

The Nittany Lion has some fun posing in the sundial on the Old Main lawn at the Lion Ambassadors' Old Main Open House. The Nittany Lion makes frequent appearances at Lion Ambassadors' special events.

Image: Lion Ambassadors

"The organization trusts us to carry on these traditions, and we pride ourselves on being the representatives of those traditions," says Lindlaw. "We enjoy spreading the traditions and history of the school. Lion Ambassadors radiate Penn State pride in their everyday lives and love everything Penn State has to offer."

About the Lion Ambassadors

The Penn State Lion Ambassadors have served the University community for more than thirty years. In 1981, the University saw a need for a student alumni corps who could provide service to the University and help strengthen ties between students and alumni. The first fifty Lion Ambassadors took up the charge in the spring of 1982. 

Since then, the ambassadors—described as "ordinary students with extraordinary pride"—have been dedicated to communicating the University's history, strengthening the institution's traditions, and instilling Penn State pride in current and future students, alumni, and friends. 

The organization is currently recruiting its next class of ambassadors. If you are a student of sophomore or junior standing and are interested in becoming a Lion Ambassador, you may attend an upcoming recruitment event and/or submit your application by Friday, December 5.