Walks to Remember
Alumni reflect on their tour-giving days
When Laurie Milligan, BA Psychology ’85, gave campus tours in the early 1980s, parents wanted answers to the tough questions on drinking, sex, drugs—and football.
“I remember a few fathers who were most interested in seeing the football stadium and finding out how good the team was. They always seemed a little baffled when I told them we didn’t have a football team,” she says.
Milligan and other alumni who were tour guides during their days at Mason say their memories of the experience were, well, interesting. Sabrina Tillman, BA English ’00, was one of many students who worked part time in the Admissions Office and gave tours as part of the job.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t say I was overzealous at the prospect of giving a tour,” says Tillman, who remembers the swamp-like heat of Virginia summers as one of the worst parts of the experience.
But weather woes aside, the former tour guides say they enjoyed meeting students from all over the world and having a small part in their decision of which college to attend.
“No voice is as powerful in the recruitment process as that of current students,” says Andrew Flagel, dean of admissions. “Prospective students and their families love to hear from faculty as well, but it is often the enthusiasm of a single student answering a phone or conducting a tour that makes the difference for an applicant in deciding to make Mason his or her first choice institution.”
To aid prospective students in their decision-making process, former tour guides felt it was important to dispel some of the myths associated with Mason.
“Lots of people asked about Mason being a commuter school,” says Greg Guenthner, BA Communication ’03, a Lynchburg, Virginia, native who gave tours for one year. “They were really amazed when they found out how many people actually did live on campus and how much there was to do on weekends.”
All in all, alumni say they are glad they had the experience of promoting Mason—even without a football stadium to showcase. “I gained a lot of perspective from giving tours,” says Tillman. “I was forced to consider why I chose to attend and graduate from Mason, a topic I was asked to share over and over again.”