More than two dozen UCF students have started part-time, paid positions on campus, taking on a newly-created role as “Armor Up” ambassadors, a job that’s part counselor and part educator.

Positioning themselves at typical high-traffic locations like the John C. Hitt Library, Student Union and Recreation and Wellness Center, their charge is to encourage compliance with UCF’s COVID-19 safety measures.

“This is a way to help students, faculty, staff and visitors know what’s expected when coming on to campus,” says Maureen Hawkins, director of Wellness & Health Promotion Services and the program’s coordinator. “We’ve looked at every possible way to engage the community – and one-on-one interactions are an important part of connecting.”

The student ambassadors remind others about wearing face coverings, adhering to physical distancing and completing the daily COVID self-symptom checker on UCF’s app and website. They carry backpacks full of masks, hand sanitizer and door pulls, and give out T-shirts, sunglasses, snacks and other goodies to students who are adhering to safety guidelines.

Many of the students who applied for the positions said they wanted to find a way to help the campus stay healthy, says Hawkins.

Aishwarya Joshi, a graduate student studying health services administration, was one of the first ambassadors hired and trained. “I have a healthcare background and during this COVID time I felt so useless not doing anything,” says Joshi. “When I saw this, I was pretty excited, I was hoping I [could] get into it and I’m so glad [I did].”

The students work in small teams and cover shifts that run Monday through Friday of each week.

Additional students will be hired in the coming weeks, bringing the total number of ambassadors to 60 and providing a daily presence on the main, downtown and Rosen campuses. The program will be in place through the end of the fall semester.

“Students are grateful to see the ambassadors out and about and they appreciate the additional self-care items,” Hawkins says.

The program is funded through UCF’s institutional portion of the CARES Act.