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Sunday, December 10, 2023

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For donating to the program, students receive an Aztec Proud T-shirt and invitations to stewardship and career development events. For donating to the program, students receive an Aztec Proud T-shirt and invitations to stewardship and career development events.

Student Philanthropy Funds Scholarships

Aztec Proud is a program that was designed to promote student philanthropy.
By Tobin Vaughn

Six SDSU students will receive scholarships next spring thanks largely to the generosity of their fellow students. Each new $1,500 award will come from a class legacy reserve or endowment funded through an innovative program developed by the Office of Alumni Engagement.

Aztec Proud is a program designed to promote student philanthropy. The program asks students to leave a legacy for others by making a $10 donation.

Over the past two years, more than 7,500 student donations combined with matching gifts from the SDSU Bookstore have raised more than $100,000 in scholarship funds. It’s an achievement described as “remarkable” by SDSU President Elliot Hirshman.

“With the establishment of this endowment and reserves, our philanthropic culture continues to grow at San Diego State,” Hirshman said. “We are proud of the extraordinary generosity of our students, who are committed to helping fellow students and generations of students to come.”

The president is not the only one taking notice of SDSU student philanthropy. In the category of “Alumni Relations Programs: Student Alumni Initiatives,” the Office of Alumni Engagement received a silver 2016 Award of Excellence from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), an international professional association serving educational institutions.

“A huge deal"

For donating to the program, both incoming and current students receive an Aztec Proud T-shirt and invitations to stewardship and career development events throughout the academic year. They are asked to renew their donation each year to support a class legacy fund that will generate student scholarships in perpetuity.

At a Sept. 15 annual donation renewal event, Alexa Garcia stopped by the Aztec Proud tent near the SDSU Bookstore to contribute her $10.

“This is my third time donating,” Garcia said.

The second-year environmental science major said she gives to Aztec Proud because it makes her feel like she is contributing to something important. For renewing her donation, Garcia was happy to receive an Aztec Proud T-shirt and some snacks, but she was even more pleased to learn about the scholarships that would benefit six fellow students.

“Wow, that's amazing,” she said. “That's a huge deal."

Garcia said she plans to keep donating.

"I think it's a great program and $10 isn't a lot to ask," Garcia said.

Students giving to students

Other students agree. Shivani Kaneria renewed her donation because she believes that through a relatively small donation she can help make a big difference in the lives of others.

“It makes sense,” said Kaneria, a junior nursing student. “It's students giving back to students. I think it's a great cause and it really builds our love for the university and our involvement in it."

In an era of crowdfunding, students may donate to several causes and enjoy the satisfaction of making an impact in many places and ways. A contribution on campus, however, creates a result in their immediate environment that will have a lasting effect for years to come.

SDSU Vice President for Student Affairs Eric Rivera says legacy gifts appeal to students because they know that a small donation that helps build a scholarship endowment, for example, will keep on giving.

“It resonates with them because they’re thinking about the future,” Rivera said. “Students today are building for the students of tomorrow.”

Legacy gifts also help transform involved students into connected and involved alumni who may continue throughout their lives to contribute to their own class legacy reserves and endowments. Right now, Aztec Proud is underscoring the importance of giving back—even on a small scale—to the benefit of both current and future Aztecs.