Josh Bowes ’23 first met Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, a foreign affairs expert and global scholar from Sri Lanka, in November during a Presidential Ambassadors mentor meeting.
By January, he was interning with the Millenium Project, the think tank where Abeyagoonasekera is a senior fellow, and by the end of the month had published a paper with him.
The connection made between Bowes, a global studies major, and Abeyagoonasekera is one of the many highlights of his time in Randolph’s new Presidential Ambassadors program.
Started by President Sue Ott Rowlands this fall, the program offers leadership, networking, and personal and professional development opportunities to students chosen through an application process.
“This year’s inaugural group of ambassadors represent some of our finest students,” Ott Rowlands said. “They are a diverse group spanning all four years of study, a wide variety of majors and interests, and include student-athletes, scholarship recipients, and both commuter and residential students. I am so proud of the way our Presidential Ambassadors represent the Office of the President and our institution as a whole.”
In addition to serving Randolph at on-campus and community events, students meet and network with guests of the College and attend mentoring sessions.
They also agree to participate in at least one service event per academic year and volunteer for at least two College events each semester, working as a host, guide, greeter, or usher. Those events are often at the President’s House, where students help out with open houses or faculty dinners.
“It is incredibly fulfilling to be around like-minded and insightful students that care as much about the College as I do,” Bowes said. “I’ve enjoyed hosting various events with faculty and guests, because it is a great opportunity to network and listen to experienced professionals and alums.”
Bowes has also enjoyed spending time with Ott Rowlands.
“There is always something to learn from her and her mentorship,” he said.
Ott Rowlands hosted an off-campus leadership retreat for the ambassadors in January, where students engaged in team-building activities that “occasionally left the room bursting into laughter,” said Jadin Wilkening ’24.
“By the end of the day, we sat in a circle around President Ott Rowlands discussing our take-aways and how we can apply them to our daily lives,” she said. “The exercises she’s taught us help evaluate our strengths and weaknesses and challenge us to work together as a team.”
For Wilkening, a computer science and mathematics major, the program has allowed her to get more involved at Randolph as a commuter student.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting faculty members outside of my major because I don’t know that I would have had the chance to meet them otherwise,” she said. “Each time I meet with other leaders, I feel like I learn something new about my own leadership style.”
Kayden Washington ’26, who is majoring in elementary education, has also valued the relationships she’s formed since becoming an ambassador.
“As a first-year, it’s nice to know people across different majors who are juniors and seniors, who can expose me to different interests,” she said. “I feel more connected with my peers and a deeper investment in their success.
“We’ve only just begun,” she added, “and I am so excited to see what else I am able to do.”