The BoD Squad


Bears of Distinction connecting past, present and future

BoD giving a student tour

It’s been said by students, faculty and alumni that there’s something special about Lenoir-Rhyne. For future Bears, a campus tour delivers that feeling of excitement and a rite of passage for a prospective student.

Helping to make those visits transformative and memorable are Bears of Distinction, otherwise known as BoDs. For almost two decades, students who serve as BoDs have been the face of the university and an authentic voice for prospective students.

“While year-to-year, the BoDs are a small group of individuals, their impact at LR is huge,” said Undergraduate Admission Counselor Sara Hollar’17. “Whether they are building relationships with prospective students on a campus tour, getting involved with Bears Give Back, LR’s annual giving day, or serving as part of the Student Government Association, our Bears of Distinction are not only an important part of the Office of Admission, but they are also integral players on the LR campus as a whole.”

Bears of Distinction Share LR History and Tradition

The Bears of Distinction, established in 2004, were initially formed to create a bond between current students and Lenoir-Rhyne alumni. Fostering a sense of pride and LR tradition, they worked closely with the Alumni Association to improve student involvement. Perrell D. Bess ’06 was an inaugural BoD and treasured his experience.

Perrel Bess

“That role bridged the gap between the students and the alumni that were returning to visit the campus,” said Bess. “It was great for networking since they had a wealth of knowledge and connections.”

The benefits from Bess’ experience are still the same today. In addition to networking, he learned public speaking and how to navigate conversations between different generations.

The Bears of Distinction are the faces of Lenoir-Rhyne. These students are incredibly involved, open-minded and eager to share their LR journeys with others.

Sara Hollar '17

“When the right students are Bears of Distinction and love Lenoir-Rhyne, they’re the first faces that prospective students and their parents see and genuinely influence their decision,” added Bess.

Today, LR’s campus spans 56 acres, which limits what prospective students and visitors can see and do in just over an hour. The walking tour circulates 1.25 miles through campus staples — Cromer Center, Carl A. Rudisill Library and the Daniel E. Rhyne Building — as well as a residence hall and several classroom buildings. During the tour, BoDs promote the university by showcasing academics, student life and residence life to between 500 and 600 prospective students and family members each year.

April and the fall months are the busiest for tours, with the Office of Admission providing campus tours year-round. Following meetings between families and admission counselors, prospective students are often matched with tour guides with similar interests to create a sense of belonging at LR from the first moments on campus. Although the BoDs — highly trained undergraduates — have required talking points, they are encouraged to improvise and add personal conversations to make the experience more meaningful.

BoD giving a campus tour

“The Bears of Distinction are the faces of Lenoir-Rhyne,” said Hollar. “These students are incredibly involved, open-minded and eager to share their LR journeys with others. While our admission counselors build strong relationships with prospective students, the BoDs are the ones who solidify that rapport. Prospective students want to hear from their peers. Students tend to become more relaxed while on a tour, and chatting with our BoDs can help ease the nerves of the college search process.”

In addition to providing campus tours, the BoDS are assigned a variety of tasks. For example, they assist in the execution of all undergraduate admission events throughout the year, including the preparation before the events. They also support the Office of Admission social media team, providing creative ideas to engage with prospective students digitally.

Becoming a Bear of Distinction

Dozens of students interview for BoD positions each year, and around 20 serve as ambassadors for the university each year. Those who serve in the role are tasked with telling the complex story of Lenoir-Rhyne, past and present.

As tour guides, LR’s BoDs are some of the most candid authorities that prospective students and visitors will meet on campus. A good tour isn’t so much the definitive story of Lenoir-Rhyne as the personal story of a Lenoir-Rhyne student. Like all LR students, these BoDs are eagerly enmeshed in this dynamic campus community and call upon their own student experiences to give visitors a taste of life at LR.

Discovering her abilities outside her comfort zone has been one of the best aspects of the BoD experience for Natalie Haas ’25, exercise science and sports management major.

“Being a BoD opens up a new part of yourself that helps you discover more about yourself,” said Haas. “I am quiet and nervous, but it’s helping me open up and be more comfortable to show others who I am.”

Haas, a member of the LR Spirit Team and the Engaged Scholars Program, credits those experiences with shaping her role as a BoD.

“I represent LR in multiple ways,” said Haas. “I am one of the first people prospective students see, so I shine a light on what makes LR special and share how I know I made the right decision to come here.”

Ian Campbell ’23, a history major, embraces the BoD opportunity to develop himself professionally.

“As a BoD, I’m a friendly face first and foremost,” said Campbell. “During event days and on tours, I’m an anchor that students can tie themselves to since this is a very different experience for them. I show them what the family experience is like at Lenoir-Rhyne.”

Each BoD is responsible for knowing important details about Lenoir-Rhyne. In addition, they take mock tours with more seasoned BoDs to allow the veteran BoDs to train the younger BoDs. Each year, all BoDs attend a fall and a spring retreat plus regular staff meetings, learning new and updated information.

Immeasurable Value

Although the institution has changed since the BoDs first debuted, their value to the university is immeasurable.

“Our BoD team learns typical skills you want a student to learn in any position that they can carry with them following graduation,” said Hollar. “In addition, I hope they learn and truly know how much of a difference they make in the lives of the prospective students. Students visiting campus are nervous, and it is a big change for anyone, but they truly remember and look to their tour guides during their time on campus for guidance. Students remember their campus visit experience, and in most cases, their conversations and interactions with their tour guides are a major factor in deciding where their home will be for the next four years.”

Bethany Perry and Diego Sanjuan

Influenced by her campus tour experience at LR, Bethany Perry ’24, a biology major, loves interacting with people and said her two-year experience has been exceptional.

“I have the ability to learn and grow and hold a leadership position,” said Perry. “The experience has also given me an opportunity to create a family by interacting with other BoDs. I think the value of being a BoD is the community aspect because I get to draw people in and make them feel like LR is their home.”

Contributing to that sense of home on campus extends beyond the tour, according to Campbell. “When I’m out and about on campus, I always make sure to greet people because it’s important to get to know the people you see every day.”

Serving in a leadership role, biochemistry major Diego Sanjuan helps oversee training, organize retreats and leads certain admission events. He called his experience as a BoD transformative.

“The value is building connections with students who are looking for a place to belong, a place to learn, to grow,” said Sanjuan. “I think that it’s a privilege for us to be at the front line and to help prospective students realize and find themselves in a community that they can relate to and belong to.”

In addition to their role in forming the sense of community so integral to the LR experience, Campbell shared how the BoDs often serve as a go-to resource for a range of other campus needs.

“We’re a campus staple. Sometimes we’re tour guides helping with admissions, but we’re also people who are available and ready to answer whatever call. For example, if different departments need an extra person to help with an event or if an interviewer needs to talk to a student representative — there’s always a BoD available to help with anything someone needs.”

Perry reinforced the role BoDs play as unofficial campus leaders. “Sometimes we do promotional activities — things like Q&As for social media posts — to get engagement not just from prospective students but the campus as a whole. We do events like Scholarship Day, which is a big one. In admissions, we want to get people excited about LR, and we want them to stay excited.”

Campbell summed up the perfect depiction of his BoD experience. “As a BoD, I’ve gained valuable skills helping students transition from high school to adulthood. I like being a Bear of Distinction because I represent something bigger than myself.” 

We’re a campus staple. Sometimes we’re tour guides helping with admissions, but we’re also people who are available and ready to answer whatever call.

Ian Campbell '23

Contributing to that sense of home on campus extends beyond the tour, according to Campbell. “When I’m out and about on campus, I always make sure to greet people because it’s important to get to know the people you see every day.”

BoDs walking around campus

Serving in a leadership role, biochemistry major Diego Sanjuan helps oversee training, organize retreats and leads certain admission events. He called his experience as a BoD transformative.

“The value is building connections with students who are looking for a place to belong, a place to learn, to grow,” said Sanjuan. “I think that it’s a privilege for us to be at the front line and to help prospective students realize and find themselves in a community that they can relate to and belong to.”

In addition to their role in forming the sense of community so integral to the LR experience, Campbell shared how the BoDs often serve as a go-to resource for a range of other campus needs.

“We’re a campus staple. Sometimes we’re tour guides helping with admissions, but we’re also people who are available and ready to answer whatever call. For example, if different departments need an extra person to help with an event or if an interviewer needs to talk to a student representative — there’s always a BoD available to help with anything someone needs.”

Perry reinforced the role BoDs play as unofficial campus leaders. “Sometimes we do promotional activities — things like Q&As for social media posts — to get engagement not just from prospective students but the campus as a whole. We do events like Scholarship Day, which is a big one. In admissions, we want to get people excited about LR, and we want them to stay excited.”

Campbell summed up the perfect depiction of his BoD experience. “As a BoD, I’ve gained valuable skills helping students transition from high school to adulthood. I like being a Bear of Distinction because I represent something bigger than myself.” 

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