Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Making student-alumni connections

Chris Wagler, alumni relations student assistant and phonathon caller
Guest blog by Chris Wagler '16

As college students prepare for the real world, connecting with alumni in your field is crucial. Not every college student gets that chance and those who do benefit significantly. I have been given that opportunity as a phonathon caller. I first thought “Oh you just ask people for money.” I could have not been anymore wrong about that. What I learned from just one year of working the phonathon will stay with me forever.

I spoke with an alumnae last year who guided me through her journey to becoming a CPA. We talked about what classes she took and how much studying she did. This experience helped me plan out my classes. It was great to hear a story from a recent graduate who knew the material and it helped reduce my stress level.

The phonathon gives you a chance to connect with alumni and thank them for the annual charitable gifts they send to our university. Without them, I would not be here and many other students would not either. Most of the people I speak with are pleased that we call them.

The calling software allows the student-callers to see what the alumni's major and extracurricular activities were when they were students, so we can find some common ground for our brief conversation. I was able to talk with one alumnus about the soccer program and how far we have come. Another alumnus talked about grad school and what path he took. I had a couple questions about grad school and he had some valuable advice for me.

I have also been able to learn more about the history of my school and alumni are always interested to hear about the improvements in curriculum and facilities.

Bluffton is truly a community and talking to past alums helps reinforce that idea. Alumni have stories that can change your life. Many talk about how different school was back then compared to today. Some had to work two jobs and that makes you appreciate what you have now. One alum had no idea what career he wanted to pursue and talked about how worried he was. He assured me that by the time graduation comes; you know what you want to do with your life. To think that a person can get all this and get paid is wonderful. Who doesn't want a job like this?

I truly look forward to working the phonathon when I can learn more about Bluffton’s past and how it can influence my future.

by Chris Wagler
Student Alumni Association vice president, Bluffton University Business Leaders treasurer,
Alumni office student assistant and accounting tutor

Editor's note: Students from Bluffton will be calling alumni in early February for the annual winter Phonathon. This is your chance to learn about Bluffton today from current students, share experiences and advice and, yes, support your alma mater. 

To make it more exciting, an anonymous alumni couple will match new and increased gifts to Bluffton, given Feb. 1 - March 2, 2014, up to a total of $30,000. So when the phone rings, say “Hello” and accept the challenge to help raise $30K in 30days.

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