After 22 days of calling, connecting with 4868 alumni, and raising R483 000 in pledges from 152 donors, the annual UCT phonathon reached an effusive close on Thursday last week.
Lucretia Motswakhumo, a second year Business Science student, was one of the 40 callers who so valued her conversations with alumni that she kept a log of the inspiring words of advice she received. These memorable quotes, decorated with sketches of flowers on the notepad beside her, are what Lucretia regards as the ‘learning’ she takes with her: “Be kind… learn from failure… they would not have accepted you if they didn’t think you’ll graduate”. A usually shy and reserved individual, Lucretia now feels more confident to take on other opportunities which will continue to strengthen her communication skills.
On hand to meet with callers on the penultimate day of the phonathon, vice-chancellor Dr Max Price concurred that the experience of cold-calling and asking people to donate is an “education for life”. He believes that in whatever field of work students find themselves, the ability to influence people to donate or invest in an organisation is an invaluable skill.
A key area of focus for the phonathon this year was the Distinguishing UCT Campaign, which aims to grow the university’s endowment for greater sustainability in a climate of uncertainty about student fees. Andrew Hlupo, a third year Mechanical Engineering student, shares that he was most excited to talk to alumni about the campaign: “This is also my story. I know what a difference it can make to have the support of a bursary.” Third Year BCom Economics student, Amahle Konono, is especially encouraged that while there is much talk about the fees crisis, UCT is taking initiative through the Campaign to “be part of the solution.”
Phonathon co-ordinators, Cindy de Oliveira and Lu Nteya, are enthused by the high level of engagement and teamwork among the two teams of students who called on alternate days. The efficiency of the online calling system was also an added bonus to the project, uniquely designed and built by the university’s ICTS team. ICTS also generously hosted the phonathon at the call room on Main Road.
As students put away their headsets and logged off for the last time on Thursday evening, it was not without a sense of gratitude for the growth and learning they experienced over the three week journey. Their contribution, as the Phonathon Team of 2017, is especially acknowledged in the relationships of support that are now strengthened with the university’s valued alumni community.