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Grow your skills like Ariel.

Have you met Ariel? If you’re an active member of the Penn Foster Student Community, or a student in the Veterinary Academy and involved with the Penn Foster Veterinary Technicians group on Facebook, she’s probably answered your questions or congratulated you on your success. Besides being knowledgeable, Ariel is also an amazing leader and the current President of our Student Ambassadors. Check out what she has to say about being a Penn Foster student, why being an Ambassador rocks, and how online education can help you grow your skills in more ways than one!

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Why did you originally enroll at Penn Foster?

Ariel: To put it simply, I was desperately searching for an online school to avoid attending a brick and mortar community college. I didn’t have a pleasant high school experience. The final year was emotionally draining and anxiety-ridden due to many unkind people. Where I live, we have a cluster of community colleges and the nearest one is where the majority of my graduating class went.

My two options were to apply to my local community college or find an online college. My parents were hesitant and not entirely on board with my decision to take online classes, so we agreed that I would take a partial gap year to consider my choice further.

When I found Penn Foster’s Vet Tech program, I thought, “Wow! How considerate of them to have made a school just for me!” If it weren’t for Penn Foster, I would’ve been stuck attending my local community college with the same toxic people I went to high school with and my mental health would’ve suffered.

What career goals did you have in mind before enrolling?

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Ariel: Since kindergarten, I dreamt of becoming a vet. Growing up, I just knew I had to work with animals and never gave any other career a single thought. The only time I considered other careers was during my senior year of high school. Guidance counselors had us contemplate life after graduation, which meant college. I realized becoming a veterinarian entailed so much schooling and knowledge I wasn’t confident in or interested in pursuing.

At one point, I looked into becoming a social worker, mortician, crime scene investigator (which was inspired by the CSI television franchise), psychologist, an optician, a United States Marine, and a nurse as a last resort.

Why did you apply to become a Penn Foster Student Ambassador?

Ariel: Within the first year of being enrolled at Penn Foster, helping others became a surprising passion of mine. It all began when I discovered the Student Community. I used the community primarily to ask questions about my coursework and I became aware that I was missing out on the social aspect of a college experience when I saw others interacting with each other. After observing the goings on there, I realized that students were often left waiting for a response to a question, many questions were unanswered, and not many others were stepping up to help. I took the initiative to help the instructors and made small strides to get involved. Before I knew it, I was taking the community by storm!

Since I had helped numerous peers in the community, I figured that I could do a lot more if I applied for the Ambassador program. Even though I lacked self-confidence, I knew I had a few unique qualities that they were looking for in applicants. I wanted to be there for others, make them feel important, help them learn, and give them support! I wanted to make the student community a better place as an Ambassador and didn’t realize at first the impact and change that would eventually come to fruition because of it.

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What does it mean to be a Penn Foster Student Ambassador?

Ariel: It’s an honorable, prestigious position! It means that, as the most influential students and advocates for the school, we embody academic excellence and leadership. Our objective is to “provide service infused with understanding, respect, and empathy” as positive role models, mentors, and resources.

Student Ambassadors have the ability to make a significant impression on the student body and prospective students by sharing advice and the experiences we’ve had when we were in their shoes. Having first hand experience helps us to address the needs of other students efficiently, making them feel welcomed and ready to start their educational journey.

What skills are necessary to be an Ambassador?

Ariel: It’s essential for Ambassadors to master self-sufficiency. As well-informed sources, we should be able to accurately convey information about the school and answer frequently asked student questions. Another crucial skill necessary is time management. The role of a Student Ambassador is a substantial commitment, with monthly assignments, coursework, personal affairs, and other obligations.  

As Ambassadors, it’s necessary to develop adaptability skills early on. Greater success is achievable when we’re able to adapt efficiently to change and circumstances. A large part of being a Penn Foster Student Ambassador is holding ourselves to a higher standard by learning the necessary skills we may lack in order to make ourselves indispensable assets.

Why should students consider becoming Ambassadors?

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Ariel: There are many rewarding benefits that come with being a Student Ambassador and one of them is being able to make a difference, even if you think you have nothing valuable to offer. The Ambassador Program assists with the development of leadership and personal skills, which can improve your chances of employability.

Employers search for candidates with impressive soft skills and dynamic leadership qualities because they’ll make a valuable addition in the workplace. Other benefits include building relationships, networking with others, and learning how to work as a team.

You’ll grow as a person, make personal breakthroughs, and become more self-aware of what you’re capable of achieving. As a sometimes shy, always introverted person, I recommend becoming a Student Ambassador because the overall experience enriches various aspects of your life and career in the best possible way!

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Has Penn Foster made an impact in your life? How so?

Ariel: Not only has it been a haven for me after my negative high school experience, it has helped me in multiple aspects of my young adult life. I grew up a very shy, introverted, anxious, and dependent child, which continued into my teenage years. I lacked several essential life skills and I missed out on many opportunities because of fear. I thought I’d never leave my comfort zone if I took online classes. But with the Student Community, I can honestly say I socialized more than I have elsewhere in my entire life. Over time, I learned interpersonal skills and gradually became less timid, which allowed me to put myself out there on a larger scale.

One of my proudest moments was when I became a Student Ambassador. That was when I knew I wasn’t the same person I was before.

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What advice would you give to people who aren’t sure if Penn Foster is the right school for them?

Ariel: I think, “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.” That’s a quote from Elon Musk, and I couldn’t agree more with him. I was uncertain if Penn Foster would be right for me because online classes were uncharted territory and I was apprehensive about how well I’d do setting my own pace and learning independently.

Your career dreams won’t transform into goals unless you trust yourself to make a daring jump. You don’t need to know what you want to do or have it all figured out now. If things don’t pan out, you tried, you tested the waters. What works for others may not work for you. Now you have a new opportunity to seek a different adventure.

Success is not about perfection; success is about not giving up and finding better ways to accomplish what you set out to conquer. Let go of the societal pressure demanding that you plan your future overnight. Whether you choose Penn Foster or go a different direction, the knowledge you gained from that experience is part of your journey.

If you’re a new student, or even a veteran of online education, the Student Community and our amazing Ambassadors like Ariel are here to help you. If you haven’t yet, make sure to check it out and say hello! We’re a big community!