Foundation Ambassadors

 

Foundation Student Ambassador Program

The Foundation Board recognized its ten outstanding past chairs by establishing the UVU Foundation Ambassador Endowed Scholarship. The recipients of this scholarship become UVU Foundation Student Ambassadors, charged with representing the institution at key events throughout the year. The scholarship is awarded to ten UVU students, one in the name of each board chair to honor the chairs' dedication and loyalty to the University.

Mission

The UVU Foundation Student Ambassador program aims to support the work of the UVU Foundation and the Division of Institutional Advancement through student ambassadorship-select students serving as the face of UVU and its students and telling the story of the University.

Vision

The program assembles a group of student leaders dedicated to UVU and its mission and eager to develop the skills for ambassadorship, to represent UVU, and to assist its administration. As a result of their participation, these students will become better prepared to serve in their professions and as leaders in their communities.

Objective

The program will establish and maintain a specially trained group of UVU students equipped to effectively represent the University in a strategic and uniformly branded way, with a goal of engaging current and prospective donors, friends, alumni, and VIPs. Ambassadorship will provide an experiential opportunity for students and will support UVU's mission of engaged learning.

Purposes

  • Promote UVU's mission, academic excellence, and core themes.
  • Provide a positive link to students for donors and alumni at development, alumni, and presidential events and at the University in general. Assist during key campus events in any capacity necessary.
  • Represent the Foundation in philanthropic and fundraising efforts.
  • Promote the UVU Foundation Board, the Alumni Association Board, and other UVU advisory boards as needed.
  • Conduct campus tours for VIP visitors, current and prospective donors, and returning alumni.
  • Greet and welcome visitors to campus, specifically in the Alumni House.
  • Promote volunteer participation or attendance at UVU activities as directed.

Become a Foundation Ambassador

2021-2022 Foundation Ambassadors

photo of Oscar Barahona
Oscar Barahona

Oscar Barahona

Business Management
Hometown: Guatemala City, Guatemala

Oscar Barahona, ’22, is a business management major at Utah Valley University (UVU). In addition to his major, he has two minors in finance and marketing. Barahona was born and raised in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where he lived until coming to Utah in 2016 to attend UVU. “I chose to attend UVU because of the amazing people and the diversity of the school. I immediately felt at home when I got here,” he explained.

Since 2018, Barahona has served as the vice president of the UVU School of Business Latino Leadership Council. His mentors on the council inspired him to become a UVU Foundation Ambassador. He loves serving the UVU community and is looking forward to applying what he learns from being an ambassador to his life.

After graduation, Barahona plans to stay in the United States. “Being able to attend a university like UVU was only a dream for me. I’m grateful I am able to pursue my goal of graduating from Utah Valley University as a first-generation student.” He faced obstacles along the way, but by being at UVU, Barahona is following his dreams. He looks forward to seeing the impact of his leadership opportunities.

photo of Ashley Belnap
Ashley Belnap

Ashley Belnap

Mathematics Education
Hometown: Ogden, Utah

Ashley Belnap, ’24, chose to be a Utah Valley University (UVU) Foundation Ambassador “so I could give back to the university I love,” she said. “UVU is a first-choice university for me, and I am grateful I made the decision to be a part of this community.”

Belnap is pursuing a mathematics education major and an autism studies minor at UVU. She was raised in Ogden, Utah. She has been a Residential Community Leader Team Lead, which involves planning activities for students and encouraging involvement, and an Innovation Catalyst for UVU’s Excellence and Innovation Initiative, where she helped create engaged learning experiences across campus. Her leadership and involvement in the university sphere influenced her decision to apply for a position as a UVU Foundation Ambassador.

Belnap took a variety of classes in different fields before deciding to major in mathematics education. Upon completion of her degree, she plans to become a calculus teacher and receive a master’s degree so she can work in higher education as an administrator or with student leadership programs. Belnap is passionate about UVU and the opportunities it holds for all its students.

photo of Aaron Fairbourn
Aaron Fairbourn

Aaron Fairbourn

Accounting
Hometown: Sandy, Utah

Aaron Fairbourn, ’22, is majoring in accounting and minoring in biology at Utah Valley University (UVU). When it comes to the future of UVU, Fairbourn is full of optimism, which is part of why he applied to be a UVU Foundation Ambassador. “It is still a very young university, and as such it is impressionable and malleable. Any action taken by students and donors alike will make a noticeable difference for the future of the university.” He looks forward to being a part of that future.

Fairbourn came to UVU because he was impressed by the culture of inclusion he noticed when he first toured campus. He gained hands-on experience when he was part of Dr. Ogden’s research lab studying mayfly evolution. He also became involved in the campus community as the UVU Student Alumni Association (UVUSAA) Vice President of Alumni Relations. His position on UVUSAA offered him invaluable leadership opportunities while also providing a necessary scholarship.

He credits his success at UVU to the scholarship he received from UVUSAA. After graduation, Fairbourn plans to earn his master’s in business administration and become a professional investor.

photo of Jessie Heaton
Jessie Heaton

Jessie Heaton

Social Work
Hometown: Stansbury Park, Utah

Jessie Heaton, ’22, is from Stansbury Park, Utah. She decided to attend Utah Valley University (UVU) when her high school hosted a “college day” for local universities to come give presentations. Heaton attended the presentation for UVU and “was immediately sold on the UVU experience.” After doing more research, she realized she was eligible for a scholarship. “This made college feel much more accessible to me. I feel fortunate to be attending a university that invests in my education.”

Heaton is majoring in social work. She currently works as a behavior technician, helping provide therapy to children with autism spectrum disorder. After graduation, she plans to earn her master’s degree in social work so she can become a therapist. Heaton recognizes the way being involved can change a person’s college experience and goes out of her way to participate in activities and bring her peers into new social circles.

Her passion for involvement inspired her to become a UVU Foundation Ambassador. As she shares the UVU message she wants to inspire others to attend.

photo of Lauren James
Lauren James

Lauren James

Marketing
Hometown: Flagstaff, Arizona

Lauren James, ’22, was raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. At Utah Valley University (UVU), she studies marketing while minoring in business management. Attending UVU was not in her original college plans. She was prepared to play collegiate soccer at another university, but when she suffered a career-ending injury, everything changed. She felt lost, but her dad asked her to accompany him on a tour of his alma mater, the former Utah Valley Community College, now UVU. “After touring UVU, I knew it was the place for me.” Despite her change in plans, James is grateful she found her place at UVU.

She wanted to be a UVU Foundation Ambassador because she has a, “deep connection and love for the university,” and she loves to share it with others. James has been a part of a number of activities during her time at UVU. She is a member of the UVU Student Alumni Association (UVUSAA), where she previously managed the Valley United Against Hunger fundraiser and the first-generation student scholarship campaign, 2518. She is currently the UVU Institutional Advancement Executive Events Assistant.

James has delicately balanced working and attending school full-time. She is grateful for her mentors, who have helped her care for her mental health during difficult times. After graduation, she plans to work for a company who values their employees so she can wake up every day excited to make a difference in others’ lives.

photo of Andrew Jensen
Andrew Jensen

Andrew Jensen

National Security Studies & Computer Science
Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona

Andrew Jensen, ’22, enjoys seeing the impact of his education. “I chose to attend Utah Valley University (UVU) after seeing how many engaged learning opportunities the school offered.” As a student pursuing two majors, one in national security studies and another in computer science, Jensen knew an education where he would use his interests in a hands-on environment would be crucial to his future success.

Jensen applies what he learns in his classes by participating in extracurricular activities. He was on the UVU cybersecurity research team in 2021, which won the annual Atlantic Council’s District of Columbia Cyber 9/12 challenge, and a member of the UVU National Security Studies Program Leadership Committee. Jensen also is a senior student representative for Utah Valley University Programs in Support of the United Nations (UVUN), which organizes and promotes activities related to the United Nations on UVU campus. In 2019, he was a member of the Youth Subcommittee for the 68th United Nations Civil Society Conference in Utah.

Jensen is a research intern at the Institute for Security and Technology, a private think tank based in San Francisco. After graduation, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in computer engineering, interdisciplinary data analytics, and business administration. He intends to work in the technology sector. He is excited to add his student perspective to the UVU Foundation Board.

photo of Cole Leifson
Cole Leifson

Cole Leifson

Communication
Hometown: Pleasant Grove, Utah

Nicolas “Cole” Leifson’s, ’22, Utah Valley University (UVU) experience began in 2014 as a concurrent enrollment student at Pleasant Grove High School. After graduating from high school, Cole lived in Oregon for several years as a church service missionary, where he discovered an infatuation with the outdoors and a love for people. 

Upon returning home, Cole resumed his undergraduate degree in communication. He has since served in a variety of clubs and organizations including the UVU Latter-day Saint Student Association (UVU LDSSA), UVU Recruitment Ambassadors, former Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox’s political campaign, and as a Director of Traditions and Vice President of Student Relations in the UVU Student Alumni Association (UVUSAA).

Cole spends as much time as he can outside and will spend his summer working at Sundance Mountain Resort as a ZipTour tour guide and running his side business, Arbor, making custom wedding arches. Cole plans to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in communication in 2022 and begin the MBA program at UVU to further his future career.

photo of Diego Morales
Diego Morales

Diego Morales

Accounting
Hometown: Autlan de Navarro, Mexico

Diego Morales, ’23, grew up in Autlan de Navarro, Mexico. After taking English classes in Calgary, Canada for a year, he began searching for the right university to attend. He decided on Utah Valley University (UVU), where he now pursues a major in general accounting with a minor in business management.

Morales volunteers for the UVU International Student Council (ISC), where he helps coordinate events for international students and assists them with finding the best resources for their success. He applied to be a UVU Foundation Ambassador to learn from both his peers and the UVU Foundation Board. “Having the opportunity to interact with people who have knowledge, experience, and wisdom is priceless,” he said.

After graduation, Morales plans to pursue an MBA at UVU. He also would love to provide professional guidance and support to new students. Despite his struggles with learning English and adjusting to life in a new country, Morales has thrived at UVU thanks to a combination of hard work and determination.

photo of Oumar Traore
Oumar Traore

Oumar Traore

Information Technology
Hometown: Bamako, Mali

Oumar Traoré, ’22, wanted to be a Utah Valley University (UVU) Foundation Ambassador so he could share his UVU story and tell the community “how UVU is changing people’s lives.” He grew up in Bamako, Mali, and came to the United States in 2018 to attend UVU. He is majoring in information technology with an emphasis on security. Upon completion of his degree, he wants to attain his master’s in cybersecurity and start his own school of cybersecurity in Africa.

While Traoré is a successful student and individual, the start of his time in Utah was difficult for him. “It is hard to be away from your family and your country. When I started attending UVU activities, it changed my experience. The university goes above and beyond to include everyone.”

Traoré is involved with the International Lions Club, a global network of volunteers working together to make a difference in their communities. He plans to share his story and inspire others. “UVU is one of the rare places where anyone can succeed.”

photo of Lina Varionova
Lina Varionova

Lina Varionova

Nursing
Hometown: Derazhnia, Ukraine

Lina Varionova ’23, grew up and attended college in Derazhnia, Ukraine until she learned about Utah Valley University (UVU). Her mother attended an Education Around the World event and brought home materials from UVU. After reviewing the materials, Varionova knew UVU was the place for her. Only four months later, she moved to Utah to attend. Despite facing challenges adjusting to living so far from home and learning the material for her classes in English, she displays a never-give-up attitude that has helped her overcome anything life presents to her.

During her time at UVU, Varionova has volunteered with the International Student Council (ISC) helping her peers make the adjustment to life at UVU.

Varionova is completing her associates of science degree while she prepares to apply for the nursing program. Upon graduation, she plans to go on a mission with the Red Cross before working as a nurse in a research hospital. She wanted to be a UVU Foundation Ambassador so she could “improve and make real changes to the campus.”