More than two dozen Central Michigan University students sit in the basement of Carlin Alumni House ready to begin a fun-filled shift with one goal in mind: securing pledges to help current and future CMU Chippewas achieve their goals.
Students have helped with the university's phonathon for more than 19 years. Full data collection on the phonathon began in 2004. Since that time, 1,534 student employees have secured nearly $9.5 million in pledges and gifts for funds across CMU — from academics to financial assistance to athletics.
Throughout their shift, the students and their manager find ways to keep the atmosphere fun, fired up and lively through fundraising challenges, friendly one-on-one competitions, games posted on the surrounding walls and even incentives to win fake phonathon currency redeemable for snacks.
Ben Moxon, a senior from St. Clair Shores, is currently the fourth-best student fundraiser in phonathon history, having secured more than $96,000 in pledges and gifts. While it can sometimes be nerve-racking and difficult to call people in the evening hours, he said knowing that he is helping other students is a big incentive.
"It is intrinsically rewarding," Moxon said. "I've been able to see projects come to life that we've fundraised for, including the Grawn renovation, Biosciences Building and scholarships. You are raising money for things that benefit more than yourself."
Moxon, a marketing and logistics major, also said it has given him real-world skills that will be beneficial when he graduates this December.
"I've learned resilience and how to work hard to meet my goals, even if the results aren't what I hoped for the first time," Moxon said.
Ross reports for phonathon duty
CMU President George E. Ross recently joined the phonathon's student employees to make calls to unsuspecting alumni, parents and friends of the university.
Ross wanted to learn more about what the students do and surprise a few individuals who gave back to CMU last year.
Moxon — who first learned about the job after his sister became a phonathon supervisor when she was a student at CMU — helped train the president on phonathon procedures. He also let Ross listen to a few of his calls before the president tried his hand at fundraising by phone.