By Kendra Loh
Union students contribute to the university by working at the Spring Phonathon event to help raise funds.
“Students play an important role in the calling process,” said Teresa Rosson, assistant director of Development Services.
She said student callers update the alumni about what is happening on campus and fill in the alumni’s information data record. After that, student callers ask the alumni for a contribution to The Union Fund, which impacts students through scholarships, campus improvements, faculty development and the “renewing of minds” in a Christian worldview.
“We could not have the Phonathon without the students because they represent Union during the call,” Rosson said. “A student expressing his or her gratitude to a donor is key to making a personal connection, and it creates a desire to give another gift.”
She added that the Phonathon builds goodwill between the university and alumni.
“Not only do we share with the alumni, but the alumni share with us their prayer requests, successes and stories of how Union has made a difference in their lives,” Rosson said.
Rosson, who is the facilitator of the Spring Phonathon, said her challenge is to make the
Phonathon fun for the student callers. She said the theme for this year’s Phonathon is “Aloha, Union is calling!” Rosson said keeping an atmosphere of fun and enthusiasm in the room helps students to sound happier and more engaged in the conversation when they make a call.
In conjunction with the theme this year, the student callers each receive an island-themed gift every evening when they work. They also play games such as tossing a beach ball from one caller to another as a pledge is received. If the timer went off when the student caller is holding the beach ball, he or she would get to pick a prize off the prize table. Student callers also got quarters or $1 bills when they receive a pledge from an alumnus, depending on the amount of the pledge.
“Most students leave the Phonathon laughing and talking about that evening,” Rosson said. “Ask any of my staff, and they will tell you that Phonathon is fun at Union.”
Rebekah Stewart, sophomore social work major, worked for the Phonathon event in spring 2010 and again this spring. She said she initially worked at the Phonathon for extra money. Now, Stewart said she feels like she has contributed to Union through this event.
“There is much needed financially to keep the university running, and Phonathon’s contribution is just a small part of raising the funds necessary,” Stewart said.
She said the other way she benefitted from the Phonathon is the sense of accomplishment that she got while working at this event. She said knowing most of the funds raised during the event go toward providing scholarships and financial aid to Union’s students made her feel like she accomplished something.
“Union values their alumni and wants them to remain a part of the university family,” Stewart said.
Michelle Lee, freshman business major, said she worked at the Phonathon to get to know more about Union and the school’s alumni. She said she enjoyed having conversations with the alumni while working.
“I would definitely want to work at the Phonathon event again next year,” Lee said. She added that it was a good experience for her because the event taught her how to communicate more effectively with people.
Lee is an international undergraduate student and said she learned a lot about the American culture of giving through the Phonathon.