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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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Leaving a Legacy

Thousands of graduating SDSU students collectively contributed nearly $39,000 to fund scholarships for current and future Aztecs.
By Tobin Vaughn

Brando Gonzalez is a self-described “people person.” He likes talking to people, especially younger people who can benefit from his guidance.

“I like to teach,” said the San Diego State University biology major. “Sharing my knowledge makes me feel good."

Gonzalez believes sharing is important. On the first day of SDSU Grad Fest on March 21, he donated $10 to the Class of 2017 Legacy Scholarship Fund as part of a class gift to assist current and future SDSU students.

“If I can donate and help someone else, why not?” Gonzalez said.

The graduating senior explained how his own experience of receiving a scholarship made him feel he could achieve even more academically.

“It was a great boost for my motivation," he said. "A scholarship can encourage someone to do their best and that's very important."  

Making a difference

Gonzalez’s philanthropic reasoning is shared by more than 3,735 other graduating students. Their gifts are adding up, especially those made during the three record-setting days of this year’s SDSU Grad Fest.

By the end of SDSU Grad Fest, almost $49,000 had been raised for student scholarships. The figure includes a matching gift of $10,000 by the SDSU Bookstore.

“Student philanthropy is growing on this campus,” said SDSU Director of Development Technology Tammy Blackburn (’94, ’01), who initiated the Class Legacy Scholarship Fund concept with the class of 2015. “Our students are aware of the impact they can make through philanthropy and the understanding of how small monetary gifts can add up to make a difference in someone’s life.”

This year, for the first time, seven SDSU students received $1,500 scholarships through money generated by the Class Legacy Scholarship Fund endowment. As the class endowments continue to grow in coming years, more scholarships of greater amounts will be awarded.

Preaching legacy

Students making a class legacy donation of at least $10 receive a special red and white cord to wear at commencement where they will be asked to stand and be recognized for their gift. One of those who will be proudly wearing his cord is Kalan Montgomery, a cornerback on the SDSU football team.

Montgomery learned about the Class Legacy Scholarship Fund while waiting in a line at Grad Fest. The social science major wanted to be part of the program.

“I’m a football player and we preach legacy,” said Montgomery. “It’s extremely important.”

“The fact that this is even being done is very positive,” added Montgomery, who hopes to use his degree to start a non-profit organization to provide in-home care for children with disabilities. “If I didn't have a scholarship, I would not have been able to attend college. It gave me a chance.”

Through their gifts, donors to the Class Legacy Scholarship Fund are providing opportunities for generations of future Aztecs.

"It's good to be generous,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a way to help others and show that you care."

Students who missed the opportunity to donate at Grad Fest still have the opportunity to make an online line gift at and pick up their legacy cord at the SDSU Bookstore. Donations may also be made at the SDSU Bookstore through Saturday, April 29.