Students connect with alumni to reach $1 million milestone

by Jamie Gonzales  |   


Half of the UAA Student Phonathon team celebrating their $1 million milestone with a shout out to alumni supporters. Philip Hall/University of Alaska Anchorage

Alix Oyler is working her way toward a bachelor's degree in medical and laboratory science. Some days she gets a glimpse of her future when she talks to alumni working in her field. She considers it a job perk.

As a member of UAA's Student Phonathon program, it's Alix's job to call alumni and help to connect (or re-connect) them with UAA programs that would benefit from their support-scholarships and funds set up to enrich educational experiences for students in the arts or sciences.

And alumni continue to be generous supporters of the university year after year, she says. This year, the Student Phonathon Program marked two important milestones: They celebrated their 10th anniversary and reached the $1 million fundraising milestone.

For students like Alix, alumni pledges of support feel really personal and are always celebrated with fanfare among her fellow student callers.

"We whoop and holler and clap," she says. "I know alums can hear us and we want them to know we appreciate them."

More than just an anonymous caller

Alix Oyler

Student caller Alix Oyler, ready to hear your career advice for her or talk about your fondest UAA memories. Philip Hall/University of Alaska Anchorage

Growing up on a commercial fishing boat, Petersburg-born Alix loves to swap stories with alumni who know fishing or understand creatively adapting their lives to achieve work-life balance.

"My crib was built right into the boat," she says. "I fished until I was about 15 or so." She laughs that she might have had it easier than other crew members since her dad was the captain, but she's still no stranger to hard work.

"I feel like I'm working really hard for my own education, because I'm going to benefit directly from [alumni] pledges," she says.

Like thousands of UAA students, working part time is a fact of life for Alix.

"The people I work with really make it worthwhile," she says. "It's a very tight-knit group with lots of energy. It helps knowing that what we're doing is making a difference. I know I'm a small part in a huge machine that helps students get through school."

The Student Phonathon team of 15 has facilitated pledges from alumni in excess of  $95,000 so far this year. Every year their overarching message to the UAA community is this: THANK YOU!

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