C. Harold Ambroson, Distinguished MSU Alumnus
On Friday June 23, the Mayville State University Alumni Association will host the annual Alumni Day festivities. Part of this year’s celebration is a 40-year class reunion for the graduates of 1977 and their friends. In honor of this occasion, we interviewed C. Harold Ambroson, a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and member of the class of 1977. Ambroson is an accomplished Mayville State alumnus, who showcases the core values of Mayville State. Mayville State is truly fortunate to have dedicated, quality alumni who are leaders in our communities. Our alumni help to make Mayville State the strong school it is today. We thank them for all they do.
When did you attend Mayville State?
I attended Mayville State in the years 1974 through 1977.
Why did you choose Mayville State?
I attended Mayville State for a couple of reasons. First of all, my father, Carl, was a long time Mayville State employee, the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds. I was very proud of my dad’s work there, and for that reason I had a very strong affinity for Mayville State as an institution. Secondly, Mayville State offered programs and educational opportunities that appealed to me. As a young person just out of high school, I hadn’t developed a true sense of what I wanted to do later in life, so why would I go anywhere else? Mayville State proved to be the perfect place for me.
What was your major?
I majored in vocal and instrumental music.
What campus groups and activities were you active in?
I was active in the performing groups associated with the Music Department. They included the chorus, the concert band, the pep band, the swing choir, and I even played in a 3-piece pit orchestra for a musical production which I believe was the Damn Yankees.
What is your favorite memory of your time at Mayville State?
I have many fond memories of Mayville State so it’s very hard for me to pick a favorite, but probably what I remember most are the fantastic instructors and professors that I came into contact with. Obviously in the Music Department we had Merwyn Green, Francis Colby, and Dr. Anthony Thein. They were all very talented people and each of them a pleasure to interact with, but there were many others as well and they all had a profound impact on my overall education.
Describe your career.
In 1977, I began my career as a music teacher in Pembina, North Dakota, and later took the position of band director in Cavalier. During the summer months I would work for the U.S. Customs Service in Pembina, and in 1981 I was offered and accepted the opportunity to go to work full- time as an Inspector with U.S. Customs. In 1984, I transferred to Eastport, Idaho, and in 1987, the Customs Service moved my family and me to Chicago.
In Chicago, I held the positions of Supervisory Inspector, Chief Inspector, Assistant Port Director, and for the last seven years of my career I was the Area Port Director. I retired in 2012 being credited with 33 years of service. I currently work part-time with Customs and Border Protection training newly promoted uniformed supervisors.
What are the responsibilities of this position?
During my time as the Area Port Director in Chicago my area of responsibility included all of Illinois and Wisconsin as well as northern Indiana. In this capacity I was in charge of over 500 employees responsible for ensuring that all persons and goods entering and departing the United States did so in compliance with all applicable federal laws and regulations. Our responsibilities included anti-terrorism efforts, enforcing immigration policies, narcotics interdiction, and the collection of revenue.
What tools did Mayville State give you to enable you to be successful?
While attending Mayville State I was taught to be an independent thinker, to be resourceful, to be respectful, and to be accountable. All of these things had a great influence on my career. Probably the most important of these was accountability. Being accountable, taking responsibility, and to always be able to articulate the reasoning behind my decisions and actions may not sound like a major point. However, during my career I have had the opportunity to observe many successful people at various levels. Being accountable is a fundamental trait that each of these people practiced on a daily basis.
What is your advice for current and future Mayville State students?
First and foremost, enjoy life! Be accountable to yourself and to others. Take responsibility and don’t shy away from the difficult assignments or hard work. Enlist the knowledge and experiences of those around you when it comes to problem-solving, project completion, and life in general. Stay positive! There is nothing you can’t accomplish.
Why should students consider Mayville State?
During my career I have found it to be a blessing that I grew up in North Dakota and attended Mayville State. During my travels I have found that people across the nation with any knowledge of the people from North Dakota recognize them as unfailingly earnest, humble, hardworking, and kind. Students considering Mayville State should embrace these characteristics and practice them in life. Mayville State not only offers each person an outstanding education, but also lessons in personal values that make its students special!