Helton Rodriguez loves people and music. He channels the latter into a side job as a dj and the former into several communities around campus. One of his favorites is a position with ND Listens. Four years ago, Notre Dame moved away from telephone solicitations and towards intentional conversations between students and the extended Notre Dame Family. ND Listens was made for a student like Helton, someone who sees his greatest strengths as his extraversion and his genuine interest in everybody's story. "At NDListens, we engage with different alumni, donors, and friends of the University. We have calling campaigns where we wish alumni happy birthdays, thank donors for any gifts they've made from $5 all the way to new buildings, and just talk with as many people as possible."
Helton learned about the program from fellow AnBryce scholar and 2020 alumnus, Armando Sanchez. Armando was a manager for ND Listens and noticed Helton's knack for striking up conversations with people. Helton also appreciates the community among the ND Listens staff "some of the greatest friends I have made here during my time at Notre Dame have been the other NDL staff". Juliana Conley wrote about her experiences with ND Listens and highlighted Helton in her piece.
During the quarantine, callers reached out to alumni to check in on their wellbeing and let them know their Notre Dame family was thinking of them. Helton Rodriguez ‘22 called one woman who had recently lost her father and just received news her mother was diagnosed with COVID-19. Having lost his own mother in his youth, Rodriguez immediately related to her story. "I decided to be real with her. I said, ‘I’m so sorry. I know how much pain you’re in, and I wish there was more a 20-year-old boy can do to help over the phone." To Rodriguez’s shock, the woman replied, "You’d be surprised by how much you actually can." For the next five minutes, Rodriguez stayed on the phone, telling jokes and doing whatever he could to ease the woman’s mind.
The same strengths that drew him to ND Listens also explain his deep bond with his dorm, Alumni Hall. One of the things that resonates with Helton is "the tradition, stories, and culture of [Alumni] over the past ninety years. When Knute Rockne passed, the men of Alumni Hall took in his dog, Clashmore Mike, and gave him a home. Not only was that the day that the "Dawgs" were born, but also the day in which our mission was made evident: To give Dawgs a home." Helton loves that this community has been so rich for him. "I hadn't been able to fathom the dorm communities, let alone what Alumni Hall would give me. However, it has both given me everything I have wanted and needed."
AnBryce added another ring to Helton's family tree. "Some of the closest friends and role models I have in my life come from this program: classmates, advisors, and even members of the program who graduated before I was a student at Notre Dame.
Helton plans to take his community building and strengthening talents and apply them to work in either healthcare or community outreach.