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Oct. 27, 2014

PSAs leave lasting impression on students and community

By Ashli Speed

Presidential Student Ambassadors Executive BoardThe Presidential Student Ambassadors (PSA) are making their mark at Cleveland State. A new organization — September marked one year — the ambassadors serve the university in ways you may not know. Selected based on academics and leadership skills, PSAs represent Cleveland State and President Ronald M. Berkman at events on and off campus while developing ways to better the university.

The role of a PSA is to communicate the mission and culture of Cleveland State, enhance Cleveland State traditions, promote university wide pride and expose event guests to some of Cleveland State’s best students.
PSA recruitment is designed to get the best students because there are only 64 spaces available for PSAs.

Acceptance comes with an invitation to important Cleveland State events.
Recently, PSAs joined Berkman, University Foundation Members, Board of Trustees members, past university presidents and many others at Cleveland State for dinner at the Shoreby Club as they officially opened the 50th Anniversary celebration.

PSA member Samantha Francis, junior Occupational Therapy major, attended this event.

“PSA has been a great opportunity to be involved in a lot of things and meet a lot of people,” Francis said.

Along with attending dinners and networking, PSA membership offers students other opportunities as well.

“It teaches you a lot about grown-up skills," Francis said. "I know things I probably wouldn’t have learned unless I was in my field working, from how to professionally respond to an email to helping plan events or organize a big group of people.”

Last semester, the PSA program was brought under the Student Alumni Association (SAA), a student organization. In order to be eligible to apply to be a PSA, students must first serve as an active member of SAA for a semester. General SAA membership is open to all students, with PSA being the highest level of membership.

“Through conversations with the President’s office we determined that we were both trying to serve the same purpose (through PSA and me through SAA), so it was best to combine forces,” Kathleen Kulik, coordinator of Young Alumni Engagement in the Alumni Office, said on the decision to merge the two groups.

Kulik explained that SAA and PSA greatly benefit the university community.

“The students act as positive representatives of CSU at events within Northeast Ohio, which overall benefits the reputation of the university,” Kulik said. “The assistance SAA and PSA members provide us at events is irreplaceable.”

Liz Renik, junior Accounting major and SAA and PSA executive board member, was a member of the Student Alumni Association before the two groups became one.

“Connecting PSA with SAA offers a lot more opportunities,” Renik said. “We’re one organization but PSA takes it to the next level.”

Most of the work PSAs do is behind the scenes. Working out of the Alumni Association office in Parker Hannifin Administration Center and the Special Events office in Rhodes Tower, PSAs play a role in organizing and working many events all while showcasing Cleveland State’s student body.
One of the most recent events PSAs planned and attended was the Almost Alumni Dinner on Monday, Oct. 6 at Elements Bistro. Planned by the organizations Viking Relations Chair Eric Keith, a senior Health Sciences major, the event allowed students the opportunity to have dinner with Cleveland State alumni and network with them in a relaxed, fun environment.

As chair, Keith’s focus is helping to come up with ways that help alumni connect and interact with students. He is currently working to plan the next Almost Alumni Dinner, scheduled for Nov. 9 and other events. The Almost Alumni Dinners are open to all CSU students. `

“PSAs show the best of CSU — when people see a PSA they know it’s going to be a great event,” Keith said.

In just one year the PSA program has made lasting positive impressions with many alumni as host at different events. The group has successfully written bylaws, developed a recruitment process, planned group philanthropy events, and continues to come up with new ideas for furthering the program.

“In the past year, I’ve loved seeing the program grow and all the new ideas — everyone is really working together, it’s exciting to see it become what it’s becoming,” Francis said.

More information about the Student Alumni Association and the Presidential Student Ambassador program is available at the organization’s website and their Twitter page at Viking_4_life.