The Mason Messengers sit down at their computers and put on their headsets, settling in for their Friday evening shift, this time calling parents of current George Mason University students. Students working in the call center speak with alumni, parents, and donors, reconnecting them with what’s happening at Mason and asking for gifts.
The call center is at maximum capacity, with 40 callers on staff. Students can make up to 160 calls each shift and are typically matched with alumni from their school. Calls usually last between four and eight minutes.
Arsalan Hassan, an accounting major, started working at the call center in September 2018. He says his average donations were around $100, and he has raised a total of close to $6,000 as a caller.
“My main responsibilities are contacting alumni, updating and correcting their information, taking notes on their comments from the call, and seeing if they’d be willing to partake in any of the fundraising opportunities we have,” he says. “As a student, I can answer any of their questions.”
Hassan enjoys speaking with business alumni, who share their memories of Mason and professors who made an impact on their lives.
“The experience shows me how a university can impact their alumni, even on an everyday basis. Their experience shapes them as a person. As many of us know, we’re not the same people as when we entered college,” he says. “The paths and careers that our alumni take vary so widely, and it’s really interesting and motivational to hear what they’ve been up to and how Mason has helped them.”
Esther Lee, an accounting and management junior, started working at the call center in November 2018.
“I had a good conversation with an alumna who’s an employer with a company, and I was telling her how Mason prepares their students for the workforce. She gave me a lot of good advice, because she was also an accounting major. I don’t hear that a lot, and she was really nice about it,” says Lee.
Lee plans on graduating in spring 2021 and says she would like to give back to Mason one day.
“I personally think giving back to Mason is really important, and I didn’t realize that until I started working at the call center. Giving back means a lot to the Mason community and what we can do,” she says. “Alumni who really enjoyed their time at Mason want to give back, because they want that to live on for others.”
In 2018, student callers raised nearly $400,000. Jeff Yu is the call center manager and has seen this number increase steadily since he started working as a caller in 2014. He has served as a call mentor and supervisor running shifts. During his time as a caller, he raised close to $32,000, and as a manager, he understands the importance of giving back to Mason.
“I see firsthand the impact of alumni giving back. Any gift we receive helps students in achieving their goals.”