Answering the call: Meet Atticus

McDaniel student Atticus Rice. illustration

The McDaniel College Student Phone Center is a student-staffed fundraising program working to build relationships with the College. Student callers contact alumni, parents and friends to update them on College news, answer questions and share stories. The Student Phone Center has been organized in Winslow Building since 2005, and operates with 20-30 callers each semester.

Each gift you make to the College directly impacts our student callers through financial aid, campus enhancements, technology, and support of athletics teams. Meet one of our dedicated callers.

Name: Atticus Rice

Major: Communications / Political Science

Graduation Year: 2019

High School/Hometown:  Portland Waldorf/Portland, OR

Fun Fact: Graduated high school with a class of nine people.

What made you want to work in the Phone Center?  How long have you worked as a student caller?

This is my first year as a student caller. I’ve been on the job less than a semester.  When I found out the Phone Center was an option I immediately applied because it sounded like a really fun environment. After our initial interview I was exposed to everything that the Phone Center can really do for the school and how important it was, and it made me want to work there even more to help the school in a way that also directly impacted me and all the other students.

What have you learned about giving since you’ve been in the Phone Center?

I’ve learned that it truly isn’t about how much you give but about the fact that you give at all. A lot of the time we’re calling to ask for a donation in the amount of someone’s class year, say $20.15 for last year’s graduates. When I first started this didn’t seem like it could make much of an impact, but it really does. This is partially because those amounts really add up, but giving any amount brings together the McDaniel community. It also raises our participation numbers for annual giving. Because we’re a private college and a non-profit organization, our money comes from tuition and what people give in donations. To get more grants to help the school, our participation rate for alumni giving back is looked at. By giving any amount you are automatically helping the College, right away.

What do you enjoy most about working in the Phone Center?  What is your biggest challenge?

Most definitely the environment. Most of us stick to working the same two nights a week every week which means we get to know each other as we call throughout the semester. This creates a Phone Center Family among each shift and among all of us as there is always crossover. The supervisors really do a great job to keep things lively and exciting to the point that I always look forward to going to work. It’s also fun that we have an environment where we can all share our experiences with one another as someone else working has almost always been through the same thing as another caller. This allows us to talk over especially bad calls and get feedback as well as celebrate with and congratulate each other when we have a particularly great call.

My biggest challenge is definitely getting comfortable. Especially in the beginning, I was always nervous making my first ten or fifteen calls of the night. As the semester has gone on I’ve gotten more comfortable with these.

Why do you think it is important to give back to the College?

I think it’s very important to give back to wherever you came from, wherever your roots are. Working in the Phone Center I get to hear all sorts of incredible stories about what the College did for our alumni, how their experiences here impacted their lives in tremendous ways, and how they still hold their initial connection with the school and everyone here on the Hill. Because so many of our alumni hold these strong connections they truly value what the College did for them and they are able to give back. By giving back, our alumni are supporting us current students with the hope that we too can have the same experiences that they did and be able to give back once we become alumni. It’s this circle of giving back to support the next wave of students going through McDaniel that truly makes the great community that we have here and I think that keeping a community is one of the best reasons to give back.

What advice would you give to a new student caller?

If you’re nervous, don’t focus too much on it. We were all in that position at one point, and some of us still are. Everyone in the room is there to help you, whether it be the supervisors, shift leads, or any caller sitting nearby. Those with more experience can always give you pointers and you’ll always be going through your first shifts with others in the exact same boat.