Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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Incoming freshman Tri Nguyen contributed to the Aztec Proud Class Legacy program to fund scholarship for future students. Incoming freshman Tri Nguyen contributed to the Aztec Proud Class Legacy program to fund scholarship for future students.
 


Aztec Proud Program Builds on Success

Part of the Aztec Proud mission is to help pave the way for students to become more philanthropic alumni.
By Tobin Vaughn
 

As a student at San Diego’s School of Creative and Performing Arts, 18-year-old Tri Nguyen said he used to worry about paying for college. But at a July 18 New Student Orientation Day at San Diego State University, his concerns had disappeared.

“Thanks to the scholarships I received, I had a chance to come to SDSU,” said the freshman who will study kinesiology and pre-physical therapy. As a gesture of his gratitude, he contributed $10 to the Aztec Proud Class Legacy program, which establishes scholarship reserves and endowments on behalf of individual graduating classes – in Nguyen’s case, the class of 2020.

“It's nice to give back when you have received," Nguyen said. "I want to help people who are less fortunate than me and need money to attend college.”

For his donation, Nguyen received a black box containing a red T-shirt bearing the words “San Diego State Aztec Proud” across the chest.  He also became one of hundreds of incoming student philanthropists committing to helping others through the Aztec Proud program sponsored by SDSU’s Office of Alumni Engagement.

New app beefs up program

Aztec Proud relies on crowdfunding – small donations from a large number of people – to help generate support for important campus initiatives like student scholarships.

“Our students are generous and they have learned that even small donations can have a major impact on campus,” said SDSU Director of Alumni Engagement Tammy Blackburn.

Aztec Proud will send small gifts to student donors like Nguyen throughout the academic year. Student donors will also be invited to stewardship and special career development events. 

The new Aztec Proud app, which is available for download now, will notify members of giveaways, events and other opportunities – like scholarship application deadlines – that will enhance their student experience.  

New student Laura Zisko, visiting campus from Thousand Oaks with her mother, Mary, joined Aztec Proud saying she hopes to become a more philanthropic person. “I’m not always - no one is - 100 percent giving,” she said, “but I like to try to be more generous.”

Mary Zisko said it was good to see SDSU helping to teach her 18-year-old daughter and other students a lesson extending beyond academics.  "I think it's awesome because throughout life there are always people more or less privileged than you, so it's good to try to help those less privileged," she said.

Part of the mission of Aztec Proud is to help pave the way for students to become more philanthropic alumni. Last year the program raised $30,000 from almost 2,500 student donors.

A road map to follow

Student giving through Aztec Proud has been so successful that the program is drawing attention from other universities. Four staff members from Fresno State University’s Alumni Association visited SDSU during orientation to observe how Aztec Proud works. Their goal is to implement a similar version of the program on their campus.

Fresno State Alumni Association Executive Director Jacqui Glasner said her group is taking "lots of ideas” from SDSU back to Fresno. “I'm really excited about this, and I think it's going to be the next level for us in terms of taking us into student giving," she said.

“This is something we want and we need at Fresno State," said Blair Smittcamp, who is Fresno State’s program coordinator of student and young alumni engagement. She said her team would draw up a strategic plan for a student philanthropy program to put into action at FSU in the coming year.

After the first several sessions of new student orientation, SDSU’s Aztec Proud crowdfunding campaign is well ahead of last year’s efforts. The current Aztec Proud membership initiative continues through move-in, which is scheduled forthe final weekend in August.