Look Who’s Calling

Erin Cairns

Gonzaga’s Telefund callers are back in action! If you receive a call from 509-313-6442, be sure to answer so our student callers can give you updates on happenings around campus and learn about your connection to GU. Also, visit gonzaga.edu/update to update your information and preferences. 

A Calling Unfolds

My name is Erin Cairns. I have a passion for people and stories that leads to a tendency to strike up conversations with complete strangers — a habit that my mother certainly did not appreciate when I was a small child in unfamiliar environments. When it comes to stories, I like hearing them, writing them and sharing them. I have the privilege of engaging in both of my passions from the comfort of the Telefund room at Gonzaga University. I have the honor of being the supervisor of the GU Telefund. It’s one of the sole reasons I am still attending this institution.

I moved to Spokane, away from my home in California, unsure of what to expect in college but certain that the adjustment would be effortless; however, my freshmen year proved to be one the unhappiest stages of my life. To put it simply, I felt like a leaf floating down a river with hundreds of nooks and crannies, none of which were catching hold of me. Where was my place here? What was my role? These were questions I must have asked God a hundred times every day.

During this time, I decided to get a job to fill the empty spaces in my days, as well as my bank account. During my interview, the program director told me that as a Telefund caller, I would be speaking with alumni, parents of current and former students, and essentially anyone related to the University, with the primary goal of raising money for Gonzaga’s Annual Campaign.

“Cool, I can do that,” I thought. Little did I know that this job would become the single most frustrating, rewarding and somehow even heartwarming aspect of my freshman year.

I felt conflicted. I had to somehow inspire those I was calling to donate their money over the phone to a University that I was considering leaving. Not only that, but I had to endure the hardships of being hung up on, rejected and sometimes even yelled at by those who were offended by my reasons for calling. Yet, as time went on, I began to notice that after every bad phone call there was bound to be a down-to-earth old soul on the next one. That was the heartwarming part of my job that made me want stay at Gonzaga, because during those phone calls with the people who absolutely loved Gonzaga and its mission, I began to fall in love with the school. Instead of me just giving them reasons to give, they were also giving me reasons to stay at Gonzaga. The bad phone calls hurt, but the good ones picked me up and made me believe in what the University has to offer.

Erin on break

An avid Cubs fan, Erin takes in a real nail-biter of a game during her break.

After some time I found myself giving genuine, heartfelt reasons to give rather than just simply reading off the script in my cubicle. I not only believed in Zags, but I was determined to remain a Zag. I learned that contrary to what I once thought, being a Zag is not just a title. It is a mentality. It is the mentality of the all the loving parents, grandparents and alumni I have spoken with over this past year who are so enamored with what Gonzaga stands for and instills within its community. It is this mentality that I needed to find within myself in order to believe in the significance of my contributions to this school and the larger world around me.

The Gonzaga Telefund  taught me how to be strong in enduring any hardship while simultaneously being the most genuine, honest self I can be — something I did not know how to do before. With this newfound strength, the Gonzaga Telefund helped me find my role at GU.

Now, in my senior year, I no longer just think I am a Zag, I know I am a Zag. I know I am a storyteller. And I know that Gonzaga University is where I belong.

Gonzaga is grateful to have passionate students like Erin connecting with the Zag family over the phone each night. You can connect with the Gonzaga University Telefund “Telefriends” by answering their call or through the Gonzaga Giving Twitter, @GU_Giving.