Student Phonathon callers connect with alumni

By Carol Marcy

If you are an alum and you receive a phone call from a student, it just may be Claire on the phone. The psychology major, high school mentor, and aspiring social worker is one of 12 students on Geneseo’s phonathon team.

The team called and spoke to nearly 4,000 alums in 2022 to update their contact and career information, raise money for Geneseo, and chat about what’s new on campus. Donors have contributed more than $162,000 through phonathon calls in the last three years. This year, student callers raised more than $61,000 for the College by April.

Phonathon calls began in 1984, and students have learned a lot by talking to thousands of alums through the decades.

“The overwhelming majority of alumni who answer our callers are excited to speak with current students,” says Lauren Trautwein ’20, The Fund for Geneseo engagement manager, who oversees the phonathon team. “We have found that older alumni love hearing how the campus has changed and sharing tales from their time at Geneseo. Young alums enjoy hearing how initiatives they started are progressing and getting updates on their favorite professors.”

Meet some of our callers and learn what means the most to them when they talk to you:


Q: Who are your favorite Geneseo alumni to talk to as a student caller?
A: “I’ve really enjoyed speaking to such a diverse group of alumni—across ages, majors, and personalities. I particularly enjoyed one conversation with a young psychology alum. We spoke about our favorite professors and shared our experiences. An older alum and I spoke about her early involvement in Greek life and beginning a sorority chapter here. It’s really rewarding to let alumni know that their efforts have lasted. As someone who is constantly striving for diversity and inclusivity, knowing generations of alumni stand behind current students reinforces my passion for my school.”
Claire Bressette ’24, psychology major; HEROES Youth Mentorship Program, teaching assistant for psychology, and aspiring social worker


Q: Have you ever received career advice from an alum during a call?
A: “Many alumni have opened my eyes to career fields that I hadn’t  considered. Talking with a 1980s alum, I realized I have much more in common with alumni who graduated decades ago than I thought. We discussed Greek life at Geneseo and how his fraternity led him to networking opportunities and provided him with much more than just an undergraduate college experience. He told me about his career journey and even offered to help me with my future endeavors. Similarly, my sorority has provided me with countless leadership opportunities and even led me to phonathon and my internship with the College advancement office. Through our conversation, I was happy to learn Geneseo’s impact will not end after I graduate.”
—Taylor Kerr ’24, sociomedical sciences major; Sigma Kappa sorority and aspiring medical professional


Q: What have you learned about the College from alumni who attended Geneseo in a different decade?
A: “I have learned so much about Geneseo’s history, including the former Inn Between and what it was like when it was a bar. That space brought all of Greek life together while it was open. The IB stories are particularly special to me because the old bar was renovated and is now my sorority house. It’s so amazing to hear the history of the places where I’ve spent the most time and how they have changed. We all have memories we will remember forever.”
 —Aryanna Mello ’23, psychology major; Sigma Delta Tau sorority member and aspiring pharmaceutical sales professional


Q: What do you like best about the phonathon experience?
A: “I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk to alumni from all different backgrounds. Geneseo has a special relationship with its alumni community, and it’s so comforting to know there are alumni who felt so supported by Geneseo that they want to pass on that support to the next generation of Geneseo students.”
—Aryanna Mello ’23, psychology major; Sigma Delta Tau sorority member and aspiring pharmaceutical sales professional


Q: Contacting strangers to ask for financial support can feel awkward. Why are you comfortable in this role?
A: “I have retail experience, and talking with people has come quite naturally to me. What differentiates this job from others I’ve had is that I feel I’m making a difference within the Geneseo community, and it allows me to get to know alumni and their experiences in the process. Talking to alumni is easier for me because we usually share similar experiences and relate in many ways.”
—Chris Gosley ’23, communication and political science double major; Alpha Chi Rho fraternity and aspiring professionanl


Meet Geneseo’s phonathon callers