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Student callers surpass $100,000 for Center

Junior Damian Santiago sits in front of a computer, wearing a headset. Every so often, he turns intently to his screen, speaking in friendly tones to alumni, parents of current students and other friends of the University. His mission is this: to communicate with former Falcons (and their friends) and gain their financial support for University scholarships and other academic initiatives.

Santiago has more than accomplished his mission.

A student caller for the BGSU Telefund, Santiago’s efforts have led to over $160,000 in donations to the University. He is one of three top Telefund fund-raisers, all of whom have passed the $100,000 mark.

Joining Santiago as top support raisers are junior Matt Tyrrell, a telecommunications major, and senior Justin Barnhart, a social studies education major. As of June 21, Santiago had raised $163,778, and Tyrrell and Barnhart had raised $126,363 and $124,040 respectively, according to Kyle Kremer, a supervisor.

Although Santiago (an interpersonal communication major) has the highest running total, Tyrrell has raised the most money for the Telefund this fiscal year – $116,318 as of June 17.

The men are competitive, and their progress is clearly marked on a colorful Monopoly-like board on the Calling Center’s wall in Harshman Quadrangle.

‘It’s a good thing to have friendly competition,’ said Santiago, who started working for the Telefund in February 2007. ‘It definitely keeps us doing our job.’

Kremer said he has been working in the Calling Center for over two years, and he’s only known one other person to raise $100,000.

‘Since I’ve been there, we’ve never had this many callers who have raised … this big amount of money,’ Kremer said. ‘Damian is in the 160s … it won’t take long for him to hit that $200,000. I’m not aware of anyone who’s done that yet.’

Spring 2009 was Barnhart’s best semester so far; he raised about $50,000.

‘With time and experience, you get better,’ he said. ‘I’ve been here for 2 1/2 years.’

While the fundraising is a big part of their jobs, Barnhart, Santiago and Tyrrell also enjoy talking with and learning from the University’s friends and alumni.

‘There’s so much to learn,’ Barnhart said, describing a conversation he had with a man who sells private jets. ‘Our University has a lot to be proud of.’

Tyrrell said one of his contacts gave him advice on classes to take, and Santiago said an alumnus offered him a job.

Kremer said the men are good fund-raisers because they put a lot of effort into their work.

‘They’re the type of employee that comes in every day and gives 110 percent,’ Kremer said. ‘[The job] is 80 percent rejection, so it can be difficult, and the fact that they come in every day and they do their very best is the reason for their success.’

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