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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

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A Passionate Aztec

Leo Morales (’09) is the new president of the SDSU Alumni Board of Advisors.
By Tobin Vaughn

“There are so many different ways alumni can get involved and I encourage them to explore those avenues.”

As Leo Morales (’09) sees it, a duty of all San Diego State University alumni is to in some way help SDSU students transition from their academic careers to their professional careers. In his new role as the president of SDSU Alumni Board of Advisors for the coming year, he intends to prioritize the engagement of alumni to boost student success.

During the June 7 SDSU Alumni Board of Advisors meeting at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center, Morales accepted the president’s gavel from the board’s immediate past president, Alan Dulgeroff (’92). He officially assumes his new position on July 1.

"I'm a passionate Aztec,” Morales said of his desire to serve in his latest leadership capacity. “What I bring to this position is my passion along with enthusiasm and a belief that San Diego State is about the mutual success of our region and our students.”

Morales is the U.S. operations marketing manager for Wawanesa General Insurance Company. He is an SDSU Alumni lifetime member in his fifth year on the board, serving most recently as vice president of professional development.

Being of service is fulfilling

During the past three years, the new president has assisted students through the Aztec Mentor Program. He describes the experience as “some of the most rewarding” time he has invested in his engagement with the university.

He has also supported the Aztecs Hiring Aztecs program, which encourages Aztec alumni who are business owners and corporate employees to hire SDSU graduates and to post job openings and internship opportunities with SDSU Career Services.

“There are so many different ways alumni can get involved and I encourage them to explore those avenues,” Morales said.

Outside SDSU, the new alumni leader serves his community as a member of the board of directors for the San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross. He is also a financial fitness tutor with Just in Time for Foster Youth, an organization assisting young people transitioning from the foster care system into independent living.

"It's about fulfillment,” Morales said. “I feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction when I can be of service.”

Rediscovering SDSU

A native of McAllen, Texas, Morales and his wife, Donna, have an eight-year-old daughter. Together they attend Aztec athletics events and alumni gatherings.

"The affinity I have for the university is reinforced by bringing my daughter on campus and celebrating together the many things SDSU has to offer,” he said. The more he visits, he explained, the more he learns.

“I was one of those people who had a little bit of distance (after graduation), but I rediscovered the university and was introduced to how SDSU is trying to pivot as an institution. I wanted to help.”

So Morales found ways to get involved. Now he hopes to inspire other Aztec alumni to engage with SDSU as well.

“I'm just a normal guy who was very fortunate to come to San Diego State,” he said. “My good fortune started when I came to this university, which I will always feel was a big catalyst for me."

Serving with Morales will be two new alumni advisors voted onto the board at the June 7 meeting; both have special ties to the university. They are former Associated Students president Cody Barbo and Monica Day Berenter (’80), daughter of President Emeritus Thomas Day.