Has a Student Called You?
By USF ADVANCEMENT
“Together we will impact the future” is emblazoned on the wall of the USF Foundation’s Digital Engagement Center, an inspirational reminder to the student employees working here.
The center launched in January with 65 students. They reach out to alumni via phone, text, social media — wherever Bulls comfortably communicate — to introduce themselves and chat about shared USF experiences and what’s new on campus, extend invitations to events, and more. The students aim to bridge the gap between today’s Bulls and USF’s 374,000 alumni.
These student employees also gain skills and assets for their professional futures. They get help building their resumés and LinkedIn profiles, learn how to meet expectations in a professional workplace, and get hands-on guidance for best management practices. They’re USF’s highest paid student workers at $15 an hour.
“USF, it’s not only an academic institution, it’s also a place where you can grow socially, personally and, from now on, also professionally thanks to this opportunity to work here,” says center employee Sara Lorca Garrido, mathematics and physics, class of ’26.
During the fiscal year that ended June 30, and after less than six months on the job, she and her colleagues logged 8,721 conversations with alumni.
“You guys are ambassadors for the university,” Jay Stroman, CEO of the USF Foundation, told the students during a visit to the center. “What matters is that you talk to somebody, and you make them feel even better about their alma mater than they did before.”
The conversations are often meaningful for both students and alumni, says Andres Benavides, Life Member, the center’s manager, recalling a recent conversation.
“Our student spoke with Henry, a 2007 grad. Our student and the alumnus majored in the same field,” Benavides says.
Henry encouraged the student to join tech-related clubs and organizations on campus and to attend networking events, hackathons and career fairs. He shared his perspective on the latest trends at his job.
At the end of the conversation, Henry invited the student to join his LinkedIn network. The student quickly complied.
In 2022-23, the engagement center’s outreach resulted in 2,701 donors pledging $273,215 in gifts. That means a lot to the Bulls making the calls. Many have benefited from scholarships and other gifts and hope to share the love.
“Without my scholarship I would not be able to pay for my education,” says student engagement specialist Shania Gonzalez, Class of ’23. “The fact that I’m able to give back to other students who might be in the same position as me is an amazing opportunity.