If you’re received a call from PUC’s annual Phonathon campaign in the past three years, there’s a good chance you’ve already spoken to Autumn Hunter. This junior religion major and future teacher has participated as a caller all three years she has been at PUC—and couldn’t be more excited about it.
“My positive experiences with alumni [are] really the heart of it for me,” she says. “Just talking to all these alumni, hearing their memories and their stories—it really does mean a lot to me.”
Aside from the engaging stories, Autumn has another good reason to be excited to speak with alumni—they have helped make it possible for her to attend PUC. Raised in Sacramento, Calif. by a single mother, Autumn’s life was defined by financial hardship.
“In high school, my mom said, ‘If you want to get out of this, you need a college education,’” Autumn says. Although difficult, her family’s situation served to give her a drive and maturity not often matched among 21-year-olds.
After she completed home studies, her mother’s economic situation and status as a disabled veteran meant a free ride at any state school she chose, but Autumn wanted more than that. “I was looking for a school that was both Christ-centered and would provide a good education,” she says. “I could have gotten a good education at a state school, but at PUC I didn’t have to choose between the two.” Although a private school education seemed like a financial impossibility, Autumn didn’t waste time applying anywhere else.
With a 3.97 GPA, she had no trouble gaining admittance. But when she started dealing with her finances, she discovered that a variety of endowed scholarships, including the Mae Quimby scholarship, went a long way—but not quite far enough. So the summer before her freshman year, she called every single department on campus looking for student work to cover the difference.
Her first success was Phonathon 2009. The PUC advancement office hired her on the spot, but they had no idea what a great decision they were making. With her love for her new college, her enjoyment of a good conversation, and her enormous gratitude to the donors making her education possible, Autumn soon distinguished herself as one of the most successful student callers in the campaign. The Phonathon team begged her to come back the next year…and the next.
“She’s just the sweetest person, and when she thanks people on the phone it’s so genuine,” says Phonathon coordinator Connie Phillips. “When people realize what kind of a person she is, they’re much more confident that their gifts are going to help really great, worthy students.”
But since Phonathon is only a seasonal job, Autumn has other ways of staying busy throughout the school year. In her freshman year, she worked a total of five jobs on campus, and this year has already worked as a reader and TA in the education department and an ambassador for the enrollment office. She also serves on the SA senate—a job she says gives her another opportunity to serve the campus that has blessed her so much in the past three years.
After next year, Autumn plans to begin looking for work as a teacher, preferably at the high school level. She’s excited to pass on the same gift of education that has made such a difference in her life. “My favorite part of working with them is teaching a concept & seeing it "click" with them, she says. “My ultimate goal in teaching would be to bring my students in a close relationship to God.”
In the meantime, though, she’s excited to share her gratitude with anyone who is willing to pick up the phone. “I have so much to be grateful for! Even my being able to be here at PUC is a huge blessing,” she says. “When I tell them that their generous gifts make it possible for students like myself to be here, I mean it. I am incredibly thankful to be at this college where a Christ-centered environment is so apparent.”
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