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Friday, March 24, 2023

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Pictured: SDSU student-athlete Jeweliana Perez. Pictured: SDSU student-athlete Jeweliana Perez.

Passion for Sport, Business Drives Student-Athlete and Future Entrepreneur

Utility infielder balances academic success, collegiate athletics and raising mental health awareness while playing on top-ranked Aztecs softball team
By Suzanne Finch

As a youngster growing up in Merced, California, Jeweliana Perez loved to play softball. 

“I was physically the smallest girl on the team and was never really good,” the San Diego State University junior said. “But I kept playing because I was able to spend time with my childhood friends.” 

As she grew older, Perez and her parents became more aware of the advantages sports offered to young athletes, so Perez began seeking out and taking advantage of better training and playing opportunities.

Even though many local softball fans were initially not convinced that Perez would find success in the sport, she set out to prove them wrong. 

“My passion to continue to play softball was inspired by those who doubted my ability to play at a Division I level,” said Perez, now a utility infielder for the  Aztecs. 

Perez’s abilities as a softball player grew to the point that she committed to play at SDSU while she was still a 15-year-old high school sophomore. However, softball was not the only thing that brought her to the university. 

“Both the softball and business programs are top-notch, so I wanted to spend four years where I knew my potential could be realized and leave me as a more knowledgeable and better person,” said Perez, who starts her third year as a management/entrepreneurship major at the Fowler College of Business this fall. “I chose a business major because my degree would offer me the flexibility to do absolutely anything I want to do with my career plans. Plus, the world needs more women with power and ideas.” 

A Top Scholar on a Nationally Ranked Team Has Its Challenges

A star both in the classroom and on the field, Perez started or played in 31 (out of 56) of the nationally ranked Aztecs’ games this year and was named as one of 12 SDSU softball players on the Spring 2022 Academic All-Conference team. SDSU softball had its second-best season in school history winning the 2022 Mountain West Conference champions and made a run at the NCAA championship before being eliminated by the top 10-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils in their regional finals. 

As a student-athlete, Perez noted that the balancing act between maintaining academic success with success in collegiate sports is not always easy. 

“On the outside, we all look accomplished because of our dedication to both our sport and our studies, but the truth is that it’s a struggle for many of us every day,” she said. “I want to speak out about the importance of raising awareness for mental health within collegiate athletics everywhere. I’ve personally struggled trying to distinguish who I am outside my sport. However, I do know that I am passionate about my future here at SDSU for the next two years and beyond.” 
Aztecs Going Pro

Perez credits Danielle Kelly, who heads SDSU’s Aztecs Going Pro program, for easing some of the pressure. Aztecs Going Pro is designed to help SDSU student-athletes transition into a career and life after they leave the university through various workshops, one-on-one coaching and specially designed learning opportunities that address their specific needs. 

“Danielle has truly inspired me to take advantage of all the opportunities I have as an athlete to market myself and create a bright future for my career,” said Perez.

Once she earns her bachelor’s degree and wraps up her SDSU softball career, Perez has plans to pursue her passion for business by earning her master’s degree or attending law school before establishing a real estate brokerage in San Diego.  She is already in the process of laying the groundwork for building her own company and, with Kelly’s help, Perez has connected with several San Diego real estate professionals to help her along the way. 

“I want to create a business in my own name and open opportunities for those who want to work hard and maximize their potential as well,” she said.