Jack Walkers celebrate 10-year anniversary

(From left) Madelyn Latiolais, mathematics major, Amy Kitzman, elementary education major, Larrian Menifee, music education major, Iris Rios, marketing major, and Olivia Schreiber, speech pathology major, all serve as Jack Walkers. The tour group works to preserve campus traditions and make tours exciting for potential students.

The SFA Jack Walkers organization is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. The Jack Walkers seek out the University’s best leaders who are able to bring a unique tour guide experience to the campus. The organization was known as The Ambassadors until the fall of 2009 when SFA’s current admissions coordinator of campus visit experience, Brittany Beck, was approached by Ryan Horn with his new idea of “The Jack Walkers.” Instead of campus visits that primarily focused on facts and figures, Horn wanted to incorporate storytelling into the tours.

“All of our tour guides when they are hired have to be able to catch somebody’s attention very quickly and be able to tell a story about their personal experiences on campus,” said Beck, who is from Quinlan.

Beck took over the Jack Walkers in 2016, and still upholds many of many of the traditions that began when she joined the very first class of Jack Walkers. The Jack Walker immerses themselves into a very hands-on experience. They kick off each semester with an overnight bonding retreat inside the Rusk building, where new members get trained and every member receives his or her own axe handle to decorate. By attending these retreats once a semester, returning members participate in a ceremony where they earn letters that make up their secret acronym, JWLC. “My favorite tradition that we do is the backpacks,” Dani Heydon, a senior finance major from Longview said. “So, we have an incentive with the program that if you give 100 tours you get a backpack. It’s a surprise.

We track it behind the scenes. Then, whenever you hit your 100th tour, you’re out and about somewhere, and the SFA Jack Walkers are there with an embroidered Jack Walker SFA backpack.”

Jack Walkers do not only work for the perks, but mostly to provide a lasting impact on perspective Lumberjack students. Beck and her lead Jack Walkers put in lots of effort toward building people’s confidence and love for the University through the organization. Lead Jack Walkers are responsible for creating the schedule for tours, being on-call for weekend tours, planning Showcase Saturday and training new Jack Walkers. After an application and interview process, it takes about a month for new members of the organization to learn everything it takes to be a Jack Walker.

“You have to be serious about it,” Maya Carter, family and consumer science major from Irving and newcomer to the Jack Walkers, said. “For sure, we were that first line of defense. We’re the people that sometimes help make or break a kid’s decision.”

In the future, the Jack Walkers would like to see the organization grow and to welcome the interest of more diverse students who are passionate about showing off the best that the campus has to offer. They hope to continue being a positive persuasive voice for potential Lumberjacks.

“We do things differently than a lot of other schools, and that’s something that we really pride ourselves in,” Heydon said. “We just have conversations, and it’s not scripted. Every single tour is different, depending on which Jack Walker you have.”

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