Students reach fundraising milestone

by Emily Hunsaker

SIU Foundation Student Callers

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Three Southern Illinois University Foundation telefunders have surpassed a fundraising milestone by raising more than $25,000 for the Foundation’s Annual Fund.

James Taylor Ashford, a senior majoring in political science and speech communication from Goreville; Patrick Thies, a senior majoring in cinema and photography from DeKalb; and Eric Caldwell, a sophomore majoring in psychology from Pawnee, each reached this fundraising goal. Both Ashford and Thies have raised more than $25,000, while Caldwell has raised more than $45,000.

The Foundation employs 75 student callers who solicit support for the annual fund. The program helps raise money for scholarships, academic departments, and facility upgrades at the University. Students employed by the program perform their duties year-round with the exception of the University’s scheduled holiday breaks.

“These outstanding student callers demonstrate the skills needed to be true ambassadors of this University. With funding cuts to education, the need for private support has never been greater,” says Nanditha Balasubramanian, director of annual giving for the SIU Foundation. “These students really are the foundation for the success of our annual fund efforts. They understand the significance of fundraising and the impact private support has on student lives.”

SIU Foundation Student CallersStudent callers work tirelessly to raise money for the University and to keep alumni informed of recent campus activities. Ashford says his job as a telefunder will help him in his future career.

“I am majoring in speech communication with a specialization in persuasion,” Ashford says. “The phone calls that I make every night give me the opportunity to practice and refine my communication skills to a larger degree than many other jobs would allow.”

While Thies agrees his experience as a student caller will be beneficial to him in the future, he says his favorite part of the job is speaking with SIU alumni.

“My job allows me the opportunity to communicate with alumni, some of whom offer advice based on real-life experiences,” Thies says. “It has also helped me appreciate how much our alumni care about their alma mater and the gratitude they have for their professors and mentors.”

Whether the student callers are using their position to prepare for their future careers or just chatting with alumni, Caldwell says raising money for their University is always the telefunders’ number one priority.

“It is no secret that the economic downturn and lack of funding from the state has made private support essential at SIU,” Caldwell says. “Being able to help the school I love when it needs it most is definitely the most enjoyable part of this job.”

For more information or to donate to the annual fund, contact Nanditha Balasubramanian at 618/453-4929 or

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