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New center benefits students, university

A new center on TWU’s Denton campus is providing jobs for students and also benefiting the university in fundraising and recruitment.

The Digital Engagement Center, located at the Alumni House, employs students to engage with alumni and friends of TWU through individual phone calls. Garrett Holland, director of annual giving for University Advancement, said the calls help current students make personal connections with alumni.

The center also offers enrollment management services for Student Life.

“We reach out to potential TWU students to engage their interest in attending the university,” Holland said. “This should help our enrollment numbers in the future as well.”

The center began off campus, but moved to the Denton campus in November 2020. The two main areas of the Alumni House were renovated to accommodate the call stations.

Holland said 24 students have been hired throughout the past year. “The goal is to have 30 students on staff this upcoming fiscal year, which will put us at our goal,” he said. “We will be able to make the most impact on the university.”

Once hired, the students go through a detailed training process that includes making mock phone calls for practice. Carla Alfonzo, a sophomore dental hygiene major, said she was nervous in the beginning.

“I was petrified,” she said. “I’m a very anxious person, and two of my major anxiety triggers are talking with strangers over the phone and asking for money. I knew that if I wanted to be successful in the future, I had to conquer those fears, so I pushed myself to do this. The first weeks were hard, but with the training provided, I now feel more confident and secure.”

Tobiloba Akinhanmi, a senior biology major, also was nervous at first, but says her work at the center “has helped me come out of my comfort zone as an introvert. Now I am better at interacting with people than I was before. During my phone calls, I make sure to ask these alumni for advice. I have gotten a ton of applicable and useful advice that I intend to implement in my senior year and even after graduating.”

Student supervisor Samridhi Pradhan, a senior majoring in health studies, began working as a caller at the engagement center after learning about the job on Handshake. She applied for her current position after her manager mentioned she was looking for a supervisor.

“I honestly love the people I work with,” she said. “It’s a very laid-back environment, and I think that is what makes it a great place to work.”

Pradhan will graduate soon, and believes this experience will help her in her future career.

“My position as supervisor will definitely help me, since I would like to pursue a career in health care administration and hold a position in leadership,” she said. “I feel that this is my first step into the door of my career and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”

Holland said receiving a call from a current student has a tremendous impact on both alumni and prospective students.

“When a student calls, they are able to relate to alumni by talking about their experience on campus and what they love about the university,” he said. “They also are able to ask for advice as current students and give updates about the university itself. This goes a long way in forming a natural connection, and there has been a lot of positive feedback from TWU alumni so far this year.”

Current students can make connections with prospective students as well, he said.

“When prospective students receive phone calls from current students, they have the opportunity to ask questions about the overall TWU experience,” Holland noted. “Being able to ask questions about classes, things to do on or around our campuses, and having that sense of comfort makes a difference. An institution that puts a personal phone call touch to the decision process for a prospective student can make the difference in their final choice on where to attend college.”