Sharing success stories

Alumni give more than money to student callers

by Abby Paternoster ’16
Winter 2013

In the basement of the dorm farthest from the center of Calvin’s campus is a room that most people could easily pass by—but the activity within it is vital to continuing Calvin’s mission.

The Kalsbeek-Huizenga-van Reken residence hall is home to the call center for Calvin’s student development officers, students who connect over the phone with alumni and friends of the college. These callers have a variety of interests, backgrounds and personalities, but they unite around two core goals: to raise support for the college and to make connections with other members of Calvin’s global community. Student development officers mainly raise support for the Calvin Annual Fund, which helps to keep a Calvin education affordable by supporting programs and services that tuition alone cannot cover.

When calling friends of the college, students receive basic information about the individuals they are calling, which gives them talking points to start. But as junior Tammie Thong notes, “it’s pretty easy” to spark a conversation. On any given night, the call center is abuzz with student-alumni interaction.

For students like Thong, working as a student development officer is a way to give back to the college and support fellow classmates. “I like this job because I’m [able] to help myself and other students,” she explained. As an international student from Singapore, Thong said she especially appreciates Calvin supporters because she is not eligible to receive financial assistance from the government.

Lauren Mixon, a sophomore from Indianapolis, Ind., says that almost everyone she calls is friendly, and she notes that many who have previously supported the Calvin Annual Fund are eager to give again.

Thong agreed, saying she is surprised at the alums’ willingness to give. “Some [alumni] are in graduate school, but they still give so much,” Thong said, adding that these alumni attribute their giving to their positive experiences as students.

Phone conversations also provide these students the opportunity to glean advice from Calvin grads, as first-year student Jamin Short shared: “A lot of these alumni have advice on how to go about working in your major and steps to take leading up to that decision.” Short said he has heard stories of alumni achieving their goals because of their Calvin roots—stories that the St. George Brant, Ont., native refers to as “Calvin success stories.”

Through success stories, alumni wisdom and the encouragement of financial gifts, callers bridge the gap between today’s student body and the generations before them. If you have not received a call from a student development officer recently and would like to, e-mail annualfund@calvin.edu to get in touch.