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Friday, March 31, 2023

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Aztec Proud scholarship recipient Zackary Albrecht greets student donors at the Philanthropy Day celebration. (Photo: Tobin Vaughn) Aztec Proud scholarship recipient Zackary Albrecht greets student donors at the Philanthropy Day celebration. (Photo: Tobin Vaughn)

Philanthropy Day with an Aztec Twist

SDSU students donated more than $4,000 for scholarships on Philanthropy Day.
By Tobin Vaughn

San Diego State University student Leanne Parrick had never donated to anything. But the child development major said she wanted to be part of Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day. So on Feb. 14, she gave $10 to SDSU’s Aztec Proud student philanthropy program.

"I decided to donate to Aztec Proud because I am a graduating senior,” Parrick said. “I have worked at the bookstore and I worked at the Children's Center here and I feel like the school has done a lot for me.”

Parrick is one of more than 370 SDSU students whose combined Philanthropy Day gifts totaled more than $4,000. The event was SDSU’s contribution to the Council of Advancement and Support’s (CASE) fifth annual Student Engagement and Philanthropy Month, observed throughout February at institutions around the world where events and activities are organized to engage students in higher education advancement.

At SDSU, the student gifts support class legacy scholarships. Undergraduate donors receive T-shirts and lanyards for their participation in the program while graduating seniors receive special red and white legacy cords to wear at commencement, where they will be recognized for their donations.

Thankful and encouraging

On Philanthropy Day, SDSU Alumni staff and volunteers along with student engagement officers set up tents and tables at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union. Both new donors and students who had previously made gifts were invited to enjoy free snacks in appreciation of their participation.

The setup featured photos of students who had received Aztec Proud scholarships funded by student donations. Some scholarship awardees were on hand to express their appreciation to fellow students who had previously made or were making donations.

Zackary Albrecht is both a donor and an Aztec Proud scholarship recipient. The public relations major, who works two jobs to pay for his education, said he was there to help raise awareness of the difference student gifts had made in his own education.

"As a recipient of the Aztec Proud scholarship, I see what effect it had on my life in terms of allowing me to have a transformational study abroad experience,” he said. “I am just incredibly thankful, and if I can help provide that for the next Aztec Proud scholarship recipient, I will have done my part to further the program and give back."

A good thing

Ayiana Freeman said she made her initial Aztec Proud donation almost two years ago when she first came to campus. She had received an email about the Philanthropy Day celebration and decided to stop by.

The second-year business management major said she believes in helping others by investing in SDSU. She said she appreciates perks like the free snacks that are offered periodically throughout the year, but more importantly, she likes to see how her investment in Aztec Proud is helping someone.

“This event lets you know who is benefiting and that you are appreciated,” said Freeman. “I think that's a good thing."

A competition to determine which class can donate the most money will continue throughout the month. Each future SDSU graduating class will support a separate scholarship endowment that will grow in perpetuity from class alumni gifts, with more and more students receiving scholarships as the endowments build over the years.

The idea that many small gifts can make a big difference has gained traction among SDSU students. To date more than 8,600 student donations – mostly of just $10 - have raised nearly $145,000 and a culture of student philanthropy is firmly established at SDSU.

“Students are coming up to us at this event and asking if this is where they can give back,” said Tammy Blackburn, (’94, ’01), SDSU director of development technology. “People want to be part of something that is unique and important.

“The messages about philanthropy and giving back are resonating with students. They are givers who are willing to support their fellow students and that truly is special.”