To paraphrase Stevie Wonder:
We just called to say thank you.
We just called to say how much we care.
We just called to say thank you.
And we mean it from the bottom of our hearts.
That’s exactly what a group of University of Northern British Columbia students are doing this summer as part of a student calling program. The students are contacting UNBC alumni, founders and donors to thank them, learn more about their experiences with UNBC and share with them latest news about the goings on at the University.
“Everyone has their own story that only they are be able to tell,” says Alice Won, a biochemistry major and one of five students employed through the program. “I feel like this job allows me to hear those stories told by the individuals in the most respectful way and thank them for their contributions to UNBC.”
The callers are expecting to connect with about 2,000 people over the three-month summer calling campaign. Through sharing stories, the students are helping to strengthen UNBC’s relationship with its supporters.
“The calls work to make people feel connected to UNBC,” says Furqana Khan, a UNBC Bachelor of Social Work graduate and current Master of Social Work student. “Whether the connection is reinforced because they are already involved in some capacity with UNBC, or re-established for those who don’t even remember why they signed the petition decades ago, it demonstrates to supporters of the University that UNBC is still here for them and because of them.”
Like Khan, student caller Kiera Bokvist not only chose to complete an undergraduate degree at UNBC, she’s also pursuing her master’s. After growing up in Victoria, Bokvist was looking for a small university where she would be able to get to know her professors. That’s exactly what she found during her time as an undergraduate student, completing a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science. Now, Bokvist is working towards a Master of Political Science degree.
“So many of the people I’ve spoken with are excited to talk to me and tell me about their experiences. They’re impressed that the University is reaching out to the community just to have a conversation,” says Bokvist. “Ultimately, our ability to build up and embrace every member of our community is what defines UNBC, in my opinion. Hearing and witnessing how the University has impacted people outside my own demographic has been incredibly insightful.”
The students have also found by making the calls, they are expanding their own networks and learning about new career opportunities.
“I’ve enjoyed listening to the stories of how the founders came together having one common vision,” says a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology student Sakshi Satish. “Additionally, when I’m speaking with alumni and hearing their stories, I am gaining information about different career paths with my degree.”
During the calls, the students ask alumni if they enjoyed their time at UNBC and what advice they have for current students. They thank founders for signing the petition that led to the creation of UNBC and ask them if any of their family members have gone on to attend the University. Donors are also thanked for their ongoing support and they’re asked about their motivations for giving.
“Reaching out to alumni, founders and donors through the student calling program is a great way to let them know that UNBC is there for them and that their opinions, feedback and experiences matter,” says caller Navita Dhillon, a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Biomedical Studies student.