The 18 people who met at 2:54 p.m. April 13 on the second floor of the TECH Center were a diverse bunch. They varied in age, race and style. Yet they were all the same. Tourists.
Oksana Kramar, the shortest of the group, was there to guide them for an hour-and-a-half tour of Main Campus. “I have no personal space issues, so you can move in as close as you want,” she said at the beginning of the first stop, Temple’s largest computer lab.
Oksana, an Owl Ambassador for the past year, took them past the 600 desktop computers and 13 breakout rooms, then stopped again to explain that the TECH Center is color coded for easier navigation. Computer availability is updated online every half minute.
By 3:08, the group was at the Bell Tower (at 110 feet, the tallest point on campus). Five minutes later, she had them guessing how many books are inside Paley Library. Answer: 3 million stacked on 28 miles of shelving. “You could literally run a marathon around our books,” she quipped.
Joke telling – “Our classrooms are getting smarter than us” – is just one of many skills an Owl Ambassador needs. Others include a loud voice, clear enunciation, an outgoing personality and a willingness to share personal experiences and answer questions. The No. 1 priority: a love of Temple.
At first, Oksana didn’t. She was drawn to New York City much more than Philadelphia. But she was persuaded to tour Temple, and that she did. Four times. Temple went from not being on her list to topping it. So on Wednesdays and Fridays, and some Saturdays, Oksana tries to make an impression as powerful as the one felt during her first days on campus.
The job is more than selling Temple. It’s also repaying her parents, bit by bit. Oksana’s family immigrated to America from Ukraine in 2000, when Oksana was 9. Her father, a dentist, and her mother, a doctor, couldn’t transfer their degrees, so they had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
With a younger brother who is also about to enter college, Oksana takes 18 credits a semester in hopes of finishing her degree early and to allow time to study in Rome this fall.
Oksana also works as a resident assistant, one of the few Temple sophomores to do so. With her course load and work hours, Oksana jokes that she’s lucky to leave campus once a week.
But her jobs complement each other. Sometimes, they even combine. During the first week of the fall semester, she got together all the freshmen on her floor at Peabody Hall. Then, she took them on a tour.
– Brandon Lausch
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