Monday, November 20, 2017

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2016 Quest for the Best Winners

This year’s outstanding student leaders will be recognized at the 30th annual Quest for the Best Awards gala on April 9.
By Mallory Black
 

Ten students will be recognized for their contributions to San Diego State University in the fields of academics, research, student life and service at the Quest for the Best 30th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, April 9.

This year's commemorative event will also serve as a reunion of past Quest award recipients, who have been invited back to campus for the gala banquet in Montezuma Hall.

Each year, SDSU students take their personal and academic achievements to new heights, and every year the university recognizes those students who demonstrate a commitment to excellence. 

Makayla Bradford
Senior, Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences; minor in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies and Psychology

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Makayla Bradford

My defining Aztec Experience: Last year I was a Community Assistant in the residence halls, and this year I’m a Resident Advisor. As a Community Assistant, I was in the residence halls for international students and transfer students. Being able to interact with students and see the perspectives of so many different people with the shared goal of getting an education at SDSU was really fascinating.

My connections on campus:

  • National Student Speech Language Hearing Association
  • SDSU ASL Club
  • SDSU Salsa
  • Mortar Board Senior Honor Society
  • Residential Education Office

What’s next: I’m planning to go into a doctor of audiology program in the fall. I want to help military service members and their families.

Childhood nickname: “Mickey” – I love Disneyland and Mickey Mouse. My cousins still call me Mickey.

Raiyah Harris
Senior, Psychology and Criminal Justice; minor in Counseling & Social Change

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Raiyah Harris
My defining Aztec Experience: My Aztec Experience is influenced by my identity as a former foster youth. It took a while for me to establish a sense of purpose at SDSU, but with the help of Guardian Scholars and EOP I was able to branch out and connect with others through leadership and community service opportunities. I also became more involved in organizations such as Active Minds and Peer Educators in Counseling and Psychological Services to promote mental health awareness because it is something that’s very important to me. I have also done research with Rady's Children Hospital Child & Adolescent Research Center and have presented at SDSU’s Student Research and PsyMORE Symposiums.

Ultimately, I would like to earn my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and work with justice-involved youth in low-income communities.

My connections on campus:

  • Guardian Scholars Student Advisory Board
  • Active Minds
  • Psi Chi Honors Society
  • Peer Educator at Counseling & Psychological Services

What’s next: I plan to study abroad this summer in London at Oxford University. In the fall, I plan to start my master’s program in criminal justice, and eventually I want to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology. My goal is to work with justice-involved youth and the child welfare system.

Fun fact: I am a hip-hop dancer. I have been dancing since I was 5 with a local dance company. 

Janiel Jones
Senior, Psychology; minor in Counseling and Social Change

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Janiel Jones

My defining Aztec Experience: When I studied abroad in Nosara, Costa Rica, it was so eye opening to realize some of the things I take for granted. Not only did that experience make me value the privilege of maintaining basic necessities, but it also made me aware of more social and environmental issues on a global level.

My connections on campus:

  • Peer Health Educators at Health Promotion
  • Black Student Science Organization
  • Student Health Advisory Committee

What’s next: I plan to attend graduate school for my Master’s in Public Health, with a focus on health administration. I want to become a Health Care Administrator, and one day I would like to open a community health center for underserved populations.

Fun fact: I love comedy. Most people listen to music on Pandora — I listen to comedians.

Anthony Lee
Junior, Communication; minor in Business Administration and Digital and Social Media

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Anthony Lee
My defining Aztec Experience: Ironically, part of what has defined my Aztec Experience were the positions I didn’t receive. It forced me to be creative to make sure I was still tapping into those communities and leading by example. I realized I didn’t need to be in a certain position to make a profound impact. No matter where I am on campus, I know I can affect change and have influence.

My connections on campus:

  • Student African American Brotherhood
  • Associated Students
  • SDSU Aztec Music Group
  • Resident Advisor – Residential Education
  • EOP Student Advisory Board

What’s next: I plan to work in the marketing and entertainment industry as well as pursue my master’s in Business Administration. In the long term, I want to be in a position to open a performing arts community center for inner-city youth.

Strangest food eaten: I’ve had cow and pig intestines. People don’t give it a chance, but it’s good.

Zachariah Martinez
Senior, Biology

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Zachariah Martinez
My defining Aztec Experience: In my junior year, I became a Peer Advisor and am now a Peer Mentor in the Health Professions Advising Office on campus. They help students prepare for applying to health professional school. Working with and mentoring students really helped me to develop as a person and as a professional in preparation for my future career.

My connections on campus:

  • Chicanos/Latinos for Community Medicine
  • MEDLIFE SDSU
  • Scholars Without Borders

What’s next: After graduation, I will enter the Fulbright Program to teach English in Bulgaria for one year. After that, I plan to go to medical school to become a physician.

Guilty pleasure food on campus: I love Panda Express. I really love orange chicken.

Bogdan Matuszynski
Senior, International Security & Conflict Resolution; minor in Islamic & Arabic Studies and Latin American Studies

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Bogdan Matuszynski
My defining Aztec Experience: On a student trip with the Olive Tree Initiative, we visited Washington, DC, the United Nations in New York City, and traveled for three weeks in Israel, Palestine and Jordan. That was one of the biggest life-changing experiences I had because I’ve always been curious about the conflicts in the Middle East. I came back with more questions than answers. This experience motivated me to think about what I want to do in the future and what my role is in the big picture by using skills learned at SDSU in the area of International Security & Conflict Resolution.

My connections on campus:

  • Model United Nations SDSU
  • International Business Society
  • SDSU Society for Human Resources Management
  • Olive Tree Initiative at SDSU
  • Counseling and Social Change Club

What’s next: I am in the process of creating a non-profit foundation that promotes living an active lifestyle while giving back to the community. I am also working on a couple of bi-national initiatives to engage millennials in personal and professional development around the world, and was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Spain this fall.

Strangest food eaten: Before I became vegetarian in 2010, I ate bull testicles by accident. It was not intentional. I was in Hong Kong in 2007 and couldn’t read the menu. I thought it was meatball soup based on the photos on the menu. Big mistake.

Anthony Meadows
Senior, Kinesiology

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Anthony Meadows

My defining Aztec Experience: My experience studying abroad in the Dominican Republic really gave me an opportunity to showcase the things that I’ve learned at SDSU. It forced me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to grow as a leader. It was a whole new experience for me being a student in another country with a new environment with a language barrier. I realized that I was able to adapt, and the tools I learned from SDSU definitely helped me with that.

My connections on campus:

  • Peer Leadership Consultant – Student Life and Leadership
  • Student African American Brotherhood
  • Afrikan Student Union
  • Aztec Shops Board of Directors
  • Kappa Alpha Psi

What’s next: The plan is to work as a pharmaceutical sales representative after graduation. Over the long-term, my plan is to start my own business.

Fun fact: I was the valedictorian of my class in eighth grade.

Anachristina Morino
Senior, Aerospace Engineering; minor in Business Management

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Anachristina Morino

My defining Aztec Experience: What really started my Aztec Experience was getting involved in Rotaract SDSU. It’s a service-based organization on campus. I branched from there and made me realize I have the leadership potential to do more.

My connections on campus:

  • Society of Automotive Engineers — Aztec Baja
  • Rotaract SDSU
  • Associated Students
  • Aztec Dance Marathon

What’s next: My goal is to work for NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Mars Mission. I interned there last summer. While I’m working, I want to pursue my master’s in aerospace engineering.

Fun fact: I have a twin sister.

Adriana Rodarte-Reynoso
Senior, Child & Family Development; minor in Counseling and Social Change

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Adriana Rodarte-Reynoso

My defining Aztec Experience: My participation in student organizations in general — I couldn’t just pick one. They’ve all given me something that has made me into the woman that I am today. Because of my involvement in student groups, I’ve been given opportunities to go beyond San Diego State and do things like volunteering for Rady’s Children Hospital and studying abroad. It’s the balance and the positive influence that the various organizations I’m a part of that have given me these opportunities.

My connections on campus: 

  • SDSU Ambassadors
  • Alpha Pi Sigma
  • United Sorority & Fraternity Council
  • Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
  • Mortar Board Senior Honor Society

What’s next: I am hoping to enter a nursing program this fall. My end goal is to become a pediatric oncology nurse.

Strangest food eaten: Chili pepper-covered crickets. It was disgusting. I wouldn’t recommend it.  

Shannon Yandall
Senior, Psychology; minor in Interdisciplinary Studies

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Shannon Yandall
My defining Aztec Experience: I work under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Gilbert at the Center for Healthy Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease Research. The experience of working in this lab and getting to collaborate with other like minded individuals has provided me with the opportunities to get involved with many of the student organizations I am in today, including being an advisor in the Psychology Undergraduate Advising office, Mortar Board and the PsyMORE program.

My connections on campus:

  • PsyMORE (Psychology, Mentoring and Outreach)
  • Neuroscience Club
  • Mortar Board Senior Honor Society
  • Pacific Islander Student Association

What’s next: I will be applying to doctoral programs in clinical psychology with emphasis in neuropsychology this fall. My dream is to continue to do research in the field of neuropsychology and one day, teach at a university.

Fun fact: I have run two full marathons and over a dozen half marathons in the past two years, mostly in San Diego, but also in San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles.