I am a Wheaton Phonathoner, meaning my on campus job consists of calling alumni, parents, and past donors, then asking them a variety of questions that often ends in me asking if they would like to donate to Wheaton College. We often ask donors to donate to the Wheaton Fund, the college’s annual giving program. Online the big selling point for the fund reads as follows: “When you demonstrate your support through the Wheaton Fund, you ensure a wide variety of student learning experiences, both in and out of the classroom. You make it possible for our faculty to advance their teaching and research.”
This is a lovely way to say that donations make our education and school possible. From my point of view the Wheaton Fund is great, it provides me not only with my education, but also a job. Speaking of my job, I have been a Phonathoner since February of this year and it is my favorite job. I was incredibly nervous about taking it because I don’t exactly make a lot of phone calls anymore in this day and age of texting. However, the people that I am often calling are alumni who grew up in the age of telephones and man, can they hold a telephone conversation! That is of course, when they do answer the phone. The amount of people who don’t answer their phones is crazy. I could call 100 people and I would be lucky if 20 answered. Either these people have caller ID and know who’s calling, or they’ve seen the movie Scream one too many times. I promise alumni, it’s not a serial killer, it’s just me.
I enjoy speaking with alumni who love Wheaton and hearing their stories about Wheaton and their experiences here. If I could make a Venn diagram of those who I speak to on the phone and people who love Wheaton it would practically just be one circle. They rave about the Dimple, Peacock Pond, sports, classes, and all sorts of other extracurricular activities, of course. Last year when I was a remote student I was often jealous and envious of their stories about the good old days at Wheaton, but now being on campus I feel that I no longer have to live vicariously through elderly people’s stories about their Wheaton experience. It’s a phenomenal thing.
I have held many jobs since I was 16, five in total and being a Phonathoner definitely takes the cake. Connecting with alumni once a week is so fulfilling in that not only do I feel like I am giving back to my community in collecting donations, but alumni are often incredibly interesting and if you ask them to tell you about their major, clubs, or sports teams, they will tell you and often encourage you to also join in the community. I do often wonder if they view Wheaton with rosy retrospection and if it was even as great as they make it out to be, I hope it was. I find that these people I speak with have so many different backgrounds and experiences, yet they all share a love for Wheaton. I’ve been here two years and the jury is still out on whether or not I truly like Wheaton. This article, however, is not about me and so I am glad these lovely alumni loved Wheaton. I hope that one day I can look back at it with the same sort of fondness.