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Saturday, February 4, 2023

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Hayden Willis is a finance major involved in several student organizations on campus. (Credit: Hayden Willis) Hayden Willis is a finance major involved in several student organizations on campus. (Credit: Hayden Willis)

Hayden Willis’ Aztec Experience

Hayden Willis was recently elected Associated Students vice president of financial affairs.
By SDSU News Team

Name: Hayden Willis
Major (and minor): Finance
Campus affiliations: Phi Kappa Psi, Alpha Kappa Psi, Rotaract of SDSU, Aztec Student Union Board, Associated Students

1. Why did you choose to attend San Diego State University?

I saw this school as the perfect place to grow as an individual and educate myself at a nationally ranked research institute. With a fantastic reputation for academic excellence, elite athletic programs and situated in the center of sunny San Diego, SDSU was the perfect choice for me because it had everything I wanted in my college.

2. What inspired you to declare your major?

When I was applying to schools in fall 2013, I researched the top paying majors in the United States, and I consistently saw finance on those lists. That's what got me in the door. But, what kept me in the room was the passion I grew toward the field of study. I soon became incredibly fascinated with the science of money management and I looked for every opportunity I could to expand on my knowledge of finance.

3. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

In the spring of 2016, I met an incredible individual named Blaire Ward, who was Associated Students president at the time. I was fortunate enough to get an hour of her time to ask her questions about A.S. and student leadership. I was astonished by how real and genuine she was. To sum up the advice that she gave me in that conversation, she explained that people are at their very best as leaders when they are organic, comfortable, and proud of being exactly who they are. This completely changed the way I think about leadership and I believe I have become much better as a leader because of it.

4. Which SDSU faculty or staff member has been the most influential throughout your SDSU journey?

I've met so many incredible faculty and staff members thus far in my Aztec experience, and I cannot thank them all enough for contributing to my growth as an individual. That said, Veronica Perondi takes the cake on this one. Veronica is the programs coordinator for the Aztec Student Union Board, where I have held the position of vice commissioner of finance for the past year. Veronica was new to ASUB this year, but her ability to learn quickly and adapt when necessary was unprecedented. Her leadership, ability to connect with people, and optimism in the face of adversity inspire me every day.

5. What does student success mean to you?

Student success means everything to me. Every student made a sacrifice coming to SDSU and it should be every student's priority to succeed because of that. My favorite thing about SDSU is the knack that this school has for bringing light to the success of students. People come to this campus and do extraordinary things. I see it on campus every day. It's incredible, and seeing this pattern of dedication to success makes every failure in between well worth it.

6. What has been your proudest achievement while at SDSU?

My proudest achievement while at SDSU was getting elected vice president of financial affairs for Associated Students. I have spent a great deal of time working on my craft to be the best student leader I can be on this campus, and seeing my work culminate into a win in the election was really special.

7. Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself working for a firm in a big city, having my bachelor's and master's degree, a certified financial analyst license, and having the Series 7 & 63 exams completed. I'll hopefully be in the process of starting my own business on the side where a portion of the proceeds will go toward charitable causes. I'm extremely passionate about entrepreneurship and philanthropy, but I am working on fine-tuning my financial literacy and professional development before I start my own business.

8. What’s your favorite thing about being an Aztec?

My favorite thing about being an Aztec is pursuing greatness with roughly 34,000 students who share a similar vision that I do. Being surrounded by a group of people who are so passionate about creating a better future for the people around us is incredible, and sharing that experience with my classmates has been such a privilege that I will never take for granted. Leadership starts here, and it always will. I'm an Aztec for Life and I am extremely proud of that.