Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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Mackensie Miller (left), Jacob Dayton (center) and Anya Shutovska were selected to receive $5,000 scholarships from SDSU Alumni. Mackensie Miller (left), Jacob Dayton (center) and Anya Shutovska were selected to receive $5,000 scholarships from SDSU Alumni.

Building Loyalty the Aztec Way

Three SDSU students received $5,000 scholarships from SDSU Alumni.
By Tobin Vaughn

When she learned she was a scholarship winner, Mackensie Miller knew who to call first—her dad, Brion Miller, (’81), a lifetime member of SDSU Alumni.

“He was so happy and excited,” said Mackensie. "He was pumped.”

Miller is one of three SDSU students selected to receive $5,000 scholarships from SDSU Alumni. Hers is the Legacy Scholarship for a student with at least one immediate family member who attended SDSU.

A nutritional sciences major, Miller said her career goal was inspired by the challenges facing her younger sister, who was diagnosed at an early age with a severe allergy to nuts.

“Every nut imaginable,” Miller said. "So being really cautious about what I'm eating and what she is eating made me more aware of nutrition.”

Then there were the performers she met as captain of her high school dance team. Two dancers revealed to her their battles with eating disorders.

“They told me how they were working with a nutritionist to help them be able to dance,” she said. “I started learning more about eating disorders and the therapy involved and then it clicked; I definitely wanted to pursue that field."

Having completed her first semester at SDSU, she describes her college experience thus far as the best four months of her life.

“I’ve made so many friends, and getting accustomed to this new environment has been awesome,” she said.

Miller wants alumni who donated to the SDSU Alumni Student Scholarship Fund to know she plans to make the best possible use of their support.

"I just want to offer a huge thank you (to alumni donors) because it makes more of a difference to me and my family than they are probably aware of,” she said. “I really appreciate the scholarship, and I’m very thankful I got it.”

Too short to play goalie

By pure coincidence, Miller and first-year scholarship recipient Jacob Dayton reconnected while reporting to the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center for photos and interviews about their awards. The two attended the same schools in Livermore from kindergarten through high school and each was surprised to discover the other had also received an SDSU Alumni scholarship.

“I had no idea Mackensie had even applied,” Dayton said. “It’s great we both got one.”

The mechanical engineering major who has “always been good at science and math” is relieved to be a scholarship recipient. As the youngest of six siblings in a household where money is tight, he has worked and saved for years to pay for his own education which, he admits, creates some stress.

“It's kind of like an ongoing scramble of finding funds where I can, qualifying for loans where I can, and earning scholarships where I can,” Dayton said. “But once you get the scholarship it's like the pressure is relieved and you can focus a lot more on why you are actually going to college and not on the monetary side of it."

Dayton achieved a 3.9 GPA in his first semester. He relieves stress by playing club soccer, and clearly excels in that endeavor as well. Last semester, his SDSU club team played in the regionals in Los Angeles and advanced to the national semifinals in Alabama.

“That was a lot of fun,” said Dayton, the team’s goalkeeper. He follows in the footsteps of his oldest sister, who was a five-feet, three-inch Division I goalie at San Jose State University.

“Throughout my soccer career people have told me I'm too short to play goalie, but I always remember her story,” he said. “With her as an example and believing in myself, I feel like I can do just about anything I put my mind to.”

One of those things is trying out for SDSU’s Division I men’s soccer team, which he intends to do this semester. He hopes to use his engineering degree in the automotive industry to design cars or to become a designer of vehicles for space exploration.

He is grateful to SDSU Alumni scholarship donors who have helped keep his goals on track.

“I am so thankful and have so much respect for how they go out of their way to help people they don't even know,” he said. “When I am an alumnus, I hope I will be able to do the same thing and contribute in as many ways as I can to San Diego State."

Making an incredible difference

Anya Shutovska was on break walking through San Francisco with her mother when she got word she would receive a $5,000 scholarship from SDSU Alumni.

“My mom was so excited,” the business management major said. “She always worries about making sure I have everything I need.”

Shutovska pays for her own education and has a work-study job on campus at the Business Advising Center. She said the extra money provides her with a much-needed boost.

"It's making an incredible amount of difference,” Shutovska said. “The scholarship is really helpful to me paying for tuition, my books, my apartment rent—all of that—and it means I can sleep a little easier at night without having to worry.”

Maintaining a 3.7 GPA, Shutovska, whose family is originally from Ukraine, hopes to become a management consultant. Yet she suspects her minor in political science may lead her in a different direction: politics.

"I took my first government class in high school and found the whole structure of U.S. government (to be) really interesting,” she said. “So that's something I've always been passionate about, and it seems kind of cool to maybe take that a step further one day and get involved."

To the alumni who made her scholarship possible, Shutovska expressed thanks.

“Taking time to donate their own money to help students who currently go to SDSU is such an admirable action. They are changing lives of people they might not even meet.

“I think it's so amazing that they might never know how much the scholarship has truly impacted me, but I will forever be grateful to the alumni who gave me the opportunity.”