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Aggie Pride Call Center fosters strong connections

Busy telephones and friendly interactions have shown to be the building materials for a strong relationship between current students and graduates at New Mexico State University.


Picture of students sitting at computers in the Aggie Pride Call Center.
Student employees staff the phones at the Aggie Pride Call Center on Locust Street. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

With goals to foster good feelings, update demographic information and raise funds for NMSU, the Aggie Pride Call Center has provided a convenient way for almost 3,000 graduates to make gifts to the university since the center's creation in January 2012. Gifts have ranged from $5 to $10,000.

However, NMSU graduates don't stay on the line only to make donations.

"It may seem that the main purpose of having the call center is to raise money, but there is so much more that can come from having an active phonathon program at NMSU," said Ashtyn Wagner, coordinator for the center. "Through these phone calls, a better relationship is being formed between NMSU and its graduates, which is ultimately the end goal."

Composed of 21 highly motivated NMSU students, this call center allows the university to reach out to hundreds of Aggies each week.

"The university has tens of thousands of graduates living all over the country, and it's really difficult to keep in touch with them, so the phone offers us an opportunity to reach out to them, wherever they are," said Nigel Holman, annual fund director for the NMSU Foundation. "It's great to listen in on those conversations because there's a real rapport between the students and the graduates and it's great to see that Aggie pride being expressed over the telephone."

Callers use their time on the phones as an opportunity to "catch up" with the potential donors. During this exchange, former students discuss their time on campus, how their experience was at NMSU and what they are doing now.

"I strongly believe that these phone calls benefit both the graduates and the student callers. When an Aggie receives a phone call from a current student, they are instantly brought back to their time at NMSU. The two are able to connect over shared experiences and traditions," Wagner said.

One student positively affected by working at the Aggie Pride Call Center is Brandon Reeves, a freshmen music performance major.

"Every now and then I'll get to speak to someone working in my desired career - music - and, more often than not, I have long conversations about what life is like in the real world and the wisdom they have picked up during the years. It's pretty inspiring," Reeves said.

While the students receive inspiration, the graduates are given a unique donating experience; the call center provides a direct way to put the beneficiaries of the philanthropy in touch with the people who are contributing those gifts.

"People like to know where they're giving and who they're giving to, and what better ambassadors for NMSU than the students who are ultimately benefiting from the gifts," Holman said. "By having a conversation with a student, you really get the sense that the gift is being used in good ways."

Special guests from various departments on campus, including the president and deans, regularly visit the center to express their appreciation and gratitude for the students.

"The callers truly enjoy hearing that their hard work is being noticed and appreciated; they like to hear all the ways that they are helping their fellow Aggies," Wagner said. "It can be very easy for the callers to get caught up in getting pledges and raising money. But I like to remind them that the phone calls they make, even when they don't result in a gift, do so much good for the university."

Working at the call center teaches students the importance of teamwork, strong communication skills and a goal-oriented attitude. It also helps establish awareness as to where funding for university programs and individual scholarships come from.

"As a student, you don't really think about where scholarship money comes from. But by working at the call center, you see how much sacrifice donors really make to help complete strangers," said Beau Martinez, a junior secondary education major. "I am truly thankful for the generosity of a committed donor and for the opportunity to work to gain other donations for my fellow Aggies."

Since its creation, the call center has secured more than $355,000 in pledges, but what Holman finds most impressive is the way the callers represent NMSU.

"They really are a very key component of the fundraising staff here at the university," Holman said. "They have more conversations in a typical evening than some of us have for an entire month with our graduates and our donors, so we couldn't be doing what we're doing without their stellar work at the call center."