Before joining the ND Admissions team and creating content for Notre Dame’s prospective students, I was working (and still do!) at ND Listens. Yes, I do indeed hold two jobs on campus, but I love my job at ND Listens so much that I couldn’t quite give it up.
You may be asking yourself what is this job? Simple; ND Listens (NDL) is the student engagement center that connects with alumni, family, and friends of the University of Notre Dame. As a part of the University Relations department, our purpose is to “listen, learn, and love” as the motto goes. At NDL, students from every class year spend their time on shift calling various alumni for a variety of different reasons. From wishing alumni a happy birthday, to thanking donors for their recent gifts, or updating Notre Dame fans about what is going on campus, we truly are here to listen. NDL in all its glory truly stems from those who are willing to have a conversation and form connections to strengthen the Notre Dame family.
Many people when hearing about ND Listens automatically assume that our goal is to ask for money. Fun fact, that was actually the purpose of NDL many years ago, but now we really are here to just have a conversation with you. One of my longest calls at NDL (an hour and 10 minutes!) was with an alumni from the late 1960’s. He couldn’t believe that I had just called to chat and check in, so he tried testing me and how long I could stay on the phone with him. During that time, he shared his stories about his roommates, their intramural baseball games, campus before co-education, and his role within his Club of ND back home. While sharing all of these wonderful stories, at about every 30 minute mark, he would say to me “Are you sure you don’t want money from me?” to which I always responded “I promise you I don’t! I’m just here to talk.” He truly loved our conversation so much that we exchanged letters a couple of times where he shared photos of himself in a leprechaun suit in his youth and a sketch of him made by one of his friends. I will always remember this conversation because of his kindness and joy that I felt listening to him talk about his time at Notre Dame.
While this was a positive call, not every interaction is the same. I called a more recent graduate to wish her a happy birthday and, as always, asked if she had any special plans for her birthday. She shared that her father had just passed and his services were that weekend. I gave her my condolences for her loss and offered to light a candle for her father at the Grotto. She agreed, we said our goodbyes, and ended the call. I sent her an email later that week with the photo of the candle, prayer intention card, and of the Grotto. She responded back so graciously, sharing that she never believed I would actually do as I promised. She expressed that her experience at ND wasn’t the best and that she was actually bothered by the call, but this small task had changed her perspective. She was deeply touched by the act and wrote an article for her faith blog about our interaction that truly moved me. It is really easy to get caught up in just trying to make calls and get positive interactions, that you fail to realize how much of an impact a single phone call has on someone. Both experiences, though polar opposites, will always hold a special place in my heart.
So why is NDL so special and loved? The best answer is the connections you make. This job really makes me realize how special Notre Dame is in every aspect. No matter the form of communication, we are truly committed to creating a network that welcomes back members of the ND Family to share their stories. So, the next time you get a phone call from 574-634-5786, pick up the phone. You never know where the conversation will go and what we can learn from you.