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Jolie Graham
March 6, 2023
  • Jolie Graham

Jolie Sa’dai Graham is a senior communications major at UH Mānoa and a student fundraiser for the UH Foundation. To raise financial support for UH’s programs and students, she makes telephone calls to UH alumni and other friends of the university, reconnecting them to UH through charitable giving. In December 2022, Jolie’s photo was added to the call center’s Wall of Fame for raising $100,000 on behalf of UH.

Ty Yamaguchi, UH Foundation Associate Director of Annual Giving, says, “Jolie came into this position truly excited to be on the team. She was excited to ring the bell for her first pledge, she was excited to get on the phone for her first calls, and she just knew she was going to be successful. She even rushed training a day early, saying, ‘I think I am ready.’ Jolie is incredibly charismatic, and she can pull most people into a conversation, a great skill for the work we do.”

I heard about the job on Instagram from a friend who worked here. During my training, I felt it was a lot of information, but I got to see other professional student callers and how they grabbed the gist of everything so competently. My first-day goal was to raise $1000! It was a very unrealistic goal, but I was determined — and shut down by not getting one pledge on my first day. Nevertheless, I wanted to do so well my first month of calling that I did raise $1000 in a shift.

I've had days where donors gave $5,000 in my first two calls, yet success is not about how much I raise in a day, but how I can relate to donors so they’re happy to give. I try my best to get the donor to laugh or tell me something semi-personal, and I get to know them without being too much into their business.

I love my school

I was stuck at $98,000 for about a week and a half. Honestly, I ignored the dollar amounts of the gifts entirely during this time, trusting my student fundraiser instinct. All that mattered to me was getting to know the donors, letting them know why our work at UH Foundation is so important, and securing the pledges. The next thing I knew I was at more than $100,000, and the other callers helped celebrate. Once I made this goal, I then focused on how I could help other callers achieve the goal as well.

Raising $100,000 for UH is so important to me, as I absolutely love my school. UH was my first choice, and to have an on-campus job that allows me to help all 10 campuses, plus programs like the UH Cancer Center or UH athletics is like a dream job! I am so happy I am able to experience this with a great mentor like Ty Yamaguchi and alongside my inspiring coworkers.

An amazing learning experience

This job has been an amazing learning experience and has taught me so much about articulation, slowing down the flow of conversation, building rapport, and above all, how to converse with people and make a case for them to support our students, faculty, community colleges and other aspects of UH  that may need financial assistance at UH. This job helped me develop a better language I can use outside and inside work. 

My long-term goal is to be a radio or talk show host. I have a radio show at KTUH Fridays from noon to 3:00, which gives me the radio training I need in the future. I understand this career may take more time, age, and knowledge, so I am willing to do something else that I may love and learn from.

If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808 376-7800 or send us a message.