We are proud to induct the Next Steps Ambassadores Program into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.
The purpose of the Next Steps at Vanderbilt Ambassadores organization is to support Vanderbilt University’s Next Steps students as they complete their certification requirements. The mission of the Next Steps program is to provide transformational learning experiences, within an inclusive educational setting, for young adults with intellectual disabilities, university students, faculty, staff, and community leaders. An Ambassadore is someone who is a peer mentor of the highest quality who serves as a role model and person of support to the Next Step student he or she works with for 2-4 hours per week. The Ambassadores members support the Next Steps students in the areas of academics, program requirements, and social skills through building positive and trusting relationships by helping in the roles of daily planner, tutor, lunch buddy, or workout buddy.
The Ambassadore organization is led by 5 executive board members and roughly 8-10 Ambassadores for each student of the Next Steps program, one of whom serves as the Lead Ambassadore. These 8-10 peer mentors make up each student’s circle of support, which also includes any of their other sources of support (family members, Next Steps staff, behavior specialists, etc.). The Lead Ambassadore acts coordinates efforts and communication for their respective circle of support, such as helping their paired Next Steps student plan a social event for the entire circle. This person centered structure creates a more transparent communication style, resulting in well-rounded development for each student.