UTPA students make a pledge and donate at phone-a-thon
Posted: 05/24/2012
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Each fall and spring, students at The University of Texas-Pan American do what college students do best: ask for money.

Students spent numerous hours this year calling alumni, family and friends of The University of Texas-Pan American to give back to the University. Spring 2012 phone-a-thon callers pictured from left to right are: Joseph Cuellar, Wilfredo Ramos Jr., Ana Correa, Jessica Montenegro, Patrick Gray, Emily Fierro, Melissa Mojica, Analise Garcia, Gustavo Hinojosa, Sylvia Vela, Lucia Potisek, Andres Lera, Lester Seagraves, Alexus Esquivel, student supervisor. Sitting Left to Right: Abigail Gonzalez, Alfia Gracia and Milagros Belmares.

UT Pan American's annual phone-a-thon helps raise money for the UTPA Annual Fund, as well as provides jobs for 20 students from different majors and levels and a personal interaction between them and former students. Broncs connect with UTPA alumni who share their stories and experiences of when they were students.

"During this contact, students inform alumni about new developments at UTPA and also provide information about successes from the different colleges on campus," said Yvette Padilla, director of Stewardship and Annual Giving at Development and Advancement Services. "Annual phone-a-thons serve as an extension of communication between UTPA, alumni and friends who now reside across the nation."

Alexus Esquivel, a freshman and history major at UTPA, began working with this fundraising initiative two semesters ago as a caller. She is now a student supervisor with the Development and Advancement Services' phone-a-thon.

"This is the first job I have ever worked at and it's taught me a lot of good lessons about life and how to work with others and how to deal with people over the phone," said Esquivel, who graduated from Weslaco East High School in 2011.

Esquivel personally experienced how fundraisers such as the phone-a-thon help students. She received a UTPA Summer 2012 grant to attend summer school sessions at the University, something she would not have been able to afford to do without those funds.

"It is a honor to have received this grant for the summer," said Esquivel. "It takes a big weight off my shoulders because it is a large amount of money and phone-a-thons such as these give students like myself an opportunity to receive scholarships."

Seeing how donating money to the University helps students like herself, Esquivel encouraged her peers working at the phone-a-thon to contribute as well. Her co-workers honored her plea. In addition to outside donations, 90 percent of the phone-a-thon students also gave money during the fundraising event.

"Through their participation, students learn the importance of the value of the gifts that are given," said Elia Lerma, assistant director of Annual Giving at Development and Advancement Services. "These students know the importance of the participation rate in their community, so I am glad that Alexus came up with the idea of making a pledge and challenging others to do the same."

Esquivel shares her story with the people she's spoken with over the phone and how their contributions inspired her to do the same in giving back to her community.

The UTPA Annual Fund generates enthusiasm and transformative philanthropy for several of the University's initiatives, including scholarships for students. Gifts also support the day-to-day operations of the University.

"The main thing is that we're creating a culture of giving back and that our students are realizing that it's important to give back," said Padilla. "Our students are the community, the future of our state and of our country and funds such as these support student and faculty activities and enrich academic programs. Each gift, regardless of size, is appreciated and helps to strengthen UTPA's goal of academic excellence."

If you would like to contribute to the advancement of the University, contact Padilla at (956) 665-5301.