Thursday, April 26, 2012

All the Difference

Nostalgia is setting in.  Be careful, I hear it is contagious.  Yesterday I couldn't help but review the last three years and how much I have grown because of the blessings my Heavenly Father has given me.  One of the greatest blessings I see has been the opportunity to be a Presidential Ambassador. 

It seems like just yesterday I was a senior in high school making the decision of where to go to college.  At that point I had written off SUU, primarily because this is where Travis was going to go to school.  I wanted to do something for me, not for him (don't get me wrong, his are easily some of the best footsteps I could follow, I just wanted to create my own identity).  I was leaning towards Utah State University, but for some reason I just couldn't get invested. 

In talking with Liz Day (McNaughtan) at what I remember to be the General Young Women's Conference, she advised me to attend a SUU Leadership Weekend.  Somehow she convinced me and sooner than later I found myself in Cedar City with a bunch of awkward high school kids trying super hard to be impressive leaders.  Did I mention I looked like a goober- at this point I had a fuzz ball for a head, two months post shaving.  

Yes, I have the picture.  This was the day I developed a crush on SUU. 

It was on our campus tour that I had my first feeling of belonging; walking through the PE building, and past the student fitness center.  There was a student sitting on a yellow yoga ball that made eye contact with me and gave me a big cheesy smile and wave.  And if you know me, you know I love cheesy.  My body was washed over with a feeling that SUU was a place I could thrive.  

Within the month I received a phone call from Jared Wilcken, offering me a position as a Presidential Ambassador (PA).  Accepting that invitation is among the top few things to change my life.  

 Freshman Year
( I'm the little head poking out behind the guy in the grey polo on the left )
 Sophomore Year
(First row, second from the left)
Junior Year
(First row, first on the left)

I have met some of my best friends in the whole world through PA's.  I have learned so much from each person I have interacted with.  Not only my fellow ambassadors, but the hundreds of people I have met at recruitment events, in Utah high schools and giving campus tours.  My life has been touched by all of these individuals and their stories.  

I like to think my leadership capacity has expanded by 100%.  This organization has taught me so much about being a leader.  Whether it was through a LOL (Lessons on Leadership), a Task-Force activity, a service opportunity, some team building ropes course or trial and error, this is one area I have seen significant improvement in.  Especially this past year 2011-2012, as I review it, in the last eight months alone I have come so far.  Through being the President of PA's I have had growing experiences I couldn't find anywhere else.  I'll spare the details, but just know that it would have been impossible for me to be a leader without so many outstanding followers.  There were so many times, however, that they were so much more than mere followers.  The have been my foundation, my support and most of all, my friends and confidants. 

It is unbelievable how much they have gotten me through.  When I felt so overwhelmed with everything, there was always an ambassador there to help me get my head on straight.  So many words of advice have been exchanged, not to mention winks, half smiles and embraces.  

These have made all the difference. 

My life will never be the same as it once was, and I give credit to SUU Presidential Ambassadors for a great majority of that.  I credit people like Paula Parry, Jared Wilcken, and Kirk Blake.  I credit all my professors, friends roommates, and family that have been so understanding of my hectic schedule and need to be involved. 


Thank you for being supportive and encouraging as I have made my journey through these three years of my university experience.  

Thank you for making me feel so alive

Sydnie Juniper 
Presidential Ambassadors
President 2011-2012

P.S. I love you, Southern Utah University


  1. :) great post, Syd. Thanks for taking the time to write about it.

  2. Seriously Syd your an inspiration!

  3. I just love you Syd :) SUU was lucky to get you!