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Monday, March 20, 2023

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Sarita Roldan and  Brandon Ishikata Sarita Roldan and Brandon Ishikata

Dream Team Crowned King and Queen

San Diego State University’s new Homecoming king and queen have big plans for the future.
By Chelsea Baer

Homeland security graduate student Sara Roldan and liberal studies senior Brandon Ishikata were crowned queen and king during halftime of the San Diego State University Homecoming football game on Nov. 8 at Qualcomm Stadium.

“We couldn’t hear the announcer read our names. It wasn’t until they put the crown on my head that I realized I won,” Roldan said.

“We just grabbed each other and started jumping up and down like jackrabbits,” Ishikata said.

Exemplary Aztecs

Both king and queen felt it was an honor to be chosen from the panel of 14 candidates from the most prestigious and competitive student organizations on campus.

“This process has taught me that SDSU lives up to its values of diversity, leadership and service,” Ishikata said. "This is not a popularity contest, it is like Miss America. You are evaluated on how well-rounded you are and how you promote the mission statement of the university."

The pair was selected after judges saw their qualifications both on and off paper through a rigorous screening process and series of in-depth interviews. Both Ishikata and Roldan are exemplary students academically and socially.

Getting to know the queen

“This experience was so special because someone saw something in me,” Roldan said. “I want to inspire others; I am a transfer student, an immigrant, a female in science, the oldest candidate on the court. I hope that others can look at my eclectic background and see that I am a reflection of the school.”

Roldan is also a cancer survivor; she was diagnosed when she first came to SDSU. “This school saved my life; this is where I was safe when everything was crazy,” Roldan said.

She became co-founder of the SDSU chapter of  Stupid Cancer, a new student organization on campus, as a way to give back and support young adults affected by cancer.

Roldan is a member of many organizations including: College of Sciences Council, Order of the Sword & Shield National Honor Society, San Diego State University Visualization Center and the Black Students Science Association. She is also a McNair Scholar, NIH Bridges to the Baccalaureate alumni , ICAN mentor and San Diego State University Attention Lab manager.

As far as mastering the balancing act of college, “It’s about passion,” Roldan said. “When you’re a graduate student you don’t sleep.”

Getting to know the king

Ishikata never goes far without his color coded calendar, which gets updated daily.

“Each class or event is boxed in a symbolic color," he said. "Things written in red are for ambassadors because of the red polos we wear."

“It is all about finding your outlet in a healthy way,” Ishikata said. “Remember to enjoy college!”

His involvements include Scholars Without Borders Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, SDSU Ambassadors, Aztec P.R.I.D.E. and  SDSU Safe Zone Allies Program, to name a few. Ishikata has also worked as a Senior Resident Advisor, Teacher’s Assistant Facilitator for Student Life & Leadership and was a Quest for the Best recipient last year.   

Dream team

“Sara and I realized that as king and queen, we are also breaking academic stereotypes,” Ishikata said.

“Typically, females are the ones in education majors and men are the ones in science majors. In this case, it's the opposite where you have Sara as a homeland security student and me as a liberal studies student.”

The duo share a passion for all things SDSU, but that’s not where their common interests end. Both king and queen also use dance as an outlet for stress and a way to relax. Roldan specializes in salsa and ballroom while Ishikata’s interests include hip hop, jazz, contemporary and recently Latin and ballroom. In his few windows of free time, Ishikata also works as a Zumba instructor.

Advocates for inclusion

The prize for becoming king and queen is funding to create a service project on campus. This project is set to debut during the spring semester. Because this duo shares similar interests, they have decided to team up and create a service project together. Although they are still in the planning stages, they know that it will be based around educating people about inclusion, disabilities and the arts on campus and in the community at large.

Roldan and Ishikata hope to expand the roles of king and queen by reaching out and welcoming people around campus to get to know them. “We love meeting new people,” Ishikata said. “If students see us on campus, we want them to stop us and say ‘hi.’”