by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs
College is a time of transition for high school students, and the Vision Days Legacy program aids that transition by connecting students with resources and programs to support their success once they arrive at The University of Alabama.
Established in October 2020, the Legacy program is a branch of Vision Days that supports and helps develop opportunities at UA for students who completed the Vision Days four-year program in high school and chose to attend UA. Student ambassadors within the Legacy program provide academic and social support for underrepresented undergraduate students and Alabama high school students.
Malika Freeman, a senior majoring in biology and a Legacy ambassador, described the experience of working with the Vision Days program as seeing a “light switch [on] in their eyes” when interacting with the high schoolers who participate in Vision Days.
“It makes me want to help more, bring more people to campus with backgrounds like me,” said Freeman.
Ambassadors, like senior biology major LeAnna Roberts, are typically chosen from former Vision Days participants.
“I went to Central High School [in Tuscaloosa], so I remember going on tours with Vision Days,” she said. “I started volunteering [with Vision Days] once I got to UA and enjoyed it and then applied to be an ambassador.”
The Vision Days Legacy program is led by undergraduate Legacy ambassadors like Freeman and Roberts. Ambassadors are responsible for developing and coordinating the Legacy program, its mentorship initiative, and the student groups’ short- and long-term goals.
“What I have learned most is how to get a program started, the logistics of it, how much time it takes [and] having to be more detail oriented,” Freeman said.
As Freeman explained, ambassadors work behind the scenes with the Legacy program to support Vision Days. Specifically, Freeman designs presentations for meetings or program activities, such as for Vision Days’ most recent event, its first FAFSA (Federal Student Aid) night on Oct. 27.
Ambassadors assist high school students with the admissions process, scholarship applications and keeping up with important deadlines. FAFSA night was just one example of how ambassadors support the needs of high school students that are part of Vision Days.
Amelia Poolos, a sophomore majoring in psychology and biology, also a Legacy ambassador, said these activities also support recruitment initiatives, such as leading campus tours for the 9th–12th grade students who visit UA for Vision Days.
“We get to lead the groups and talk to the high schoolers and see if they’re interested in coming here and what they want to do here, and just talk to them about future plans,” said Poolos.
Getting to share insight into college life is something that Vision Days Legacy ambassadors say is most rewarding.
“I would say I’ve enjoyed the appreciativeness,” Roberts said. “Every high school, especially when you have a small group of eight or seven and [are] able to talk to each of them, they’re very interested and curious to know your experience and what you’re doing.”
“I just like giving back to people because somebody did it for me, and I just think it’s really cool,” Poolos added.