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Student Callers Ring for Donations, Reconnect with Alumni

Carmen Ayala

By Carrie Secondo
For the past year, sophomore Jacqueline Dacosta has worked as a student caller for the George Mason Annual Fund. "Working as a student caller makes me feel important because I'm one of the people who is contributing to Mason's success," says Dacosta, a recently declared health science major. "And when a donor makes a pledge, you can hear in their voice how much they care and how happy they are to give back to Mason," she says.

The money raised for the Annual Fund is used for immediate needs such as student scholarships, faculty recruitment, and program enhancement.

Located on Braddock Road, just across from the Fairfax Campus and next to University Mall, the Annual Fund Call Center comes alive with George Mason students for four hours every Monday through Thursday evening. Students also make calls Sunday afternoons and evenings.

"With each donation, alumni are helping George Mason enhance academic programs, recruit and retain competitive students and faculty, as well as strengthen George Mason University's national reputation,"says Kira Benitz, director of the Annual Fund.

The number of alumni who give annually is used as a gauge for alumni satisfaction in U.S. News & World Report. An increase in the number of alumni who give helps to increase the ranking of the university. This, in turn, enhances a George Mason degree. In addition, corporations and foundations look at alumni giving to determine which universities they will support. "An alumni gift, no matter the size, demonstrates a strong commitment to the university and its mission," Benitz says.

Not just a money thing

The purpose of the Annual Fund telephone calls are not just for raising money--updating records and keeping alumni informed of the latest university news is an essential part of the job.

"For some alumni, this phone call could be their only connection to George Mason," says Benitz.

Daniyal Farrakh has worked as a student caller for three years. "I enjoy talking with alumni from the School of Management the most because we have something in common," says Farrakh, a management information systems major.

"Most people don't want a lot of chit chat--they want to know why you're calling right away, but there have been alumni who have asked about my career goals and if they can help me find a job," says Brandon Patterson, a sophomore who has been a student caller since October.

Hello, this is your professor calling...

The Annual Fund callers are not always students. Once a year George Mason faculty members participate in a Faculty Phonathon. Last October, professors from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), the College of Nursing and Health Science (CNHS), and the School of Information Technology and Engineering (IT&E) spent several evenings making calls to alumni in support of the university.

During the evenings they made calls, CNHS had the largest number of alumni donors at 224 and raised a total of $10,350. "The phonathon was a team effort that was well coordinated and executed," says Rita Carty, dean of CNHS. "It was rewarding, and we were delighted to get reacquainted with many of our students."

CAS raised the highest dollar total--$12,829--receiving donations from 165 alumni. IT&E also had great success with just seven faculty members raising a total of $6,885 from 99 alumni.

"It was great to have so many faculty members show up in support of their division and the university," says Benitz. "The faculty calls keep alumni connected to their alma mater and the programs from which they graduated. We are very fortunate to have this level of dedication from our faculty."

For more information or to make a donation, contact the George Mason University Foundation, Inc., 4400 University Drive, MS 1A3, Fairfax, Virginia 22030-4444, (703) 993-8850.

Felicia Jones (left) making calls for the Annual Fund. Students making calls for the George Mason Annual fund take a break (left to right: Julie Engel, Tiffani Roberson, Andrea Roberson, Jones, Derek Porter, Janell Johnson, Ayala, Carlos Fagbenro, Daniyal Farrakh).

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