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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Best in the West

Bay Area alumni are champs in a three-way engagement challenge.
By Tobin Vaughn

Although they live in or near San Francisco, SDSU’s Bay Area Aztecs are proving that at least a piece of their heart is in San Diego and more specifically, on Montezuma Mesa. They placed first in a friendly competition among major regional SDSU alumni groups outside of San Diego.

In an effort to build a broader base of alumni support for the university, SDSU’s Office of Alumni Engagement staged the Best in the West Challenge between February 1 and May 31 pitting Orange County, the Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area against one another to see which would engage the most alumni. The three regions contain the largest concentrations of SDSU alumni – more than 68,000 – outside of San Diego.

Alumni in all three regions were encouraged to engage with SDSU by donating to the university, signing up to be mentors or by becoming SDSU Alumni lifetime members. Points were awarded for each region based on the number of alumni participating. The contest ended with the Bay Area scoring 158 participation points. Orange County had 147 and the Los Angeles Area 142.

“It wasn't a runaway,” said Dion Akers (’08), assistant director for Alumni Affinity Groups and Volunteerism. “A dozen or so folks one way or the other could have altered the outcome."

The challenge was a broad-based effort to engage alumni who may not be involved in regional councils. SDSU has regional councils in the Bay Area, the Los Angeles area and Orange County, as well as in the New York area; the Pacific Northwest; Austin, Texas; and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Regional council members mentor local students and recent alumni, promote fundraising for SDSU and assist in building a strong Aztec network in their areas.

Staying Involved

One alumna who helped provide the Bay Area’s winning margin is Danielle Stensvold (’13), a certified athletic trainer from Concord. Already an SDSU Alumni lifetime member, she made a donation to the SDSU Scholarship and Internship Fund.

"I enjoy being an Aztec for Life,” she said. “I want to be involved with the alumni chapter and participate in more events, give back to the school when I can, and stay connected."

As a student, Stensvold was active in Greek life, her professional society, and other campus activities. As an alumna, she said, “I would really like to help out any way I can because I had a very good experience at SDSU."

The Bay Area Aztecs, as challenge champions, claim more than bragging rights. They may also choose to receive a prize package including a T-shirt and Aztec for Life USB charger.

Akers said the prizes are a fun way to thank participants for making SDSU a stronger institution. “We want our alumni to know that when they participate in these things they are having an impact on the university that is important to us and we are grateful," he said.

“By engaging, even folks who are far away are influencing programs we care about. They’re affecting real change here on campus.”

The Best in the West Challenge was an SDSU Alumni pilot program. After results are evaluated, it may be repeated and similar challenges may be introduced to other regions with significant concentrations of Aztec alumni.