The Phonathon team raised $100,000 of the Annual Fund’s $600,000 goal.
“Every time I go into the Nursing Lab, I see a plaque about the donor who gave money for it and I remember that without that type of personal philanthropy, we wouldn’t have some of the really important equipment that we do.”
— Michelle Sinclair ’13
For five shifts a week, a group of USJ students meets in a computer lab in McDonough Hall after dinner and starts dialing. What may be considered by some to be a thankless job — calling to solicit support for the Annual Fund — is to the members of the student phonathon team an opportunity to connect to the women who have gone before them, to bridge generations and decades through the shared experience of their education.
“I love the conversations I have with alumnae/i — it’s my favorite part of the job,” said Christina Rivera ’15. “It doesn’t matter how far apart we are in age, we all seem to appreciate the same things about our experience at Saint Joe’s — the small classes, a favorite professor, and most of all, the women’s environment. It’s the same stuff that I talk about with my friends.”
“Making connections” is a recurring theme in the phonathon room. Students work under the guidance of Courtney RamosCotto ’11, coordinator of the annual fund and alumnae/i relations, who worked phonathon during her student years. “As a student caller, I loved talking to alumnae/i, especially about the ways their experiences related to my own,” she said. Her passion for the University and her ability to connect with potential donors plays a key role in training the callers.
“We talk about the Annual Fund in terms of how it affects people’s lives through scholarships and the educational opportunities it provides,” RamosCotto said. When the students call a potential donor, they don’t just ask for money, but instead, seek to connect to the person’s USJ experience.
“By having an honest conversation, students and alumnae/i are able to connect personally and the donors come to know who today’s students really are,” said RamosCotto. And “who they are” is strikingly familiar to those they call: “Through our conversations, I’ve come to realize that despite the gap in years, the core qualities of our education are the same,” said Jenna Leonardi ’13.
“I believe people are motivated to give once they get to know the students and realize that their gift will change a life,” RamosCotto said. The phonathon students understand this firsthand: virtually all 17 receive scholarship support and/or financial aid from USJ. “I wouldn’t be here without the
support of a scholarship,” said Leonardi. “My family doesn’t have a lot of money and there’s no way I could get this quality of education without help.”
Likewise, Summer DiStefano ’15, said, “As a scholarship recipient, I’m happy to work on behalf of the Annual Fund and help other students have the same opportunities I have here.” And so they call, night after night, connecting person to person over their shared love of Saint Joe’s.