Almost 100 students gathered at the first National Student Day at San Diego State, which honored their dedication to community service and social responsibility.
The event was a collaborative effort between Associated Students, Aztec Shops and Student Life and Leadership, but Todd Summer, campus stores director for Aztec Shops, said students were instrumental in planning National Student Day.
Summer said the idea for the event was first presented to him at the National Association of College Stores. His first instinct was to go to A.S. with the idea.
He said A.S. Vice President of University Affairs Mina Azim and A.S. Events Commissioner Jasmin Jakobsen were key in bringing National Student Day to SDSU.
“Really the genesis of the idea for the program came from them,” Summer said.
On Thursday, students were awarded based on their participation in community service activities during the month of September. Individual SDSU student and recognized student organizations were able to enter the National Student Day competition throughout the month.
“I thought it was a great concept to honor students who are giving back to the community,” Jakobsen said. “When we came up with the idea to create a competition, we wanted to make sure students were still volunteering for the right reasons and I was very excited to see that was still the case.”
There were three categories of prizes: individual awards for stories, individual awards for service and recognized student organization awards for service.
Individual awards for stories and service prizes included free textbooks for one semester, $100 in MAC Cosmetics or $100 in Alta Gracia apparel. Three students also received an honorable mention award of TOMS prize packs.
Student Life and Leadership, the SDSU Bookstore and A.S. were all judges for the essay competition.
Leanne Wendelborn, a business management sophomore, was the first-place winner of free textbooks for one semester by writing and submitting a story to the National Student Day. Wendelborn wrote about helping a little boy who was struggling in first grade. She said he was fairly behind the rest of the students and was challenged by numbers.
“I sat down with him for less than an hour and worked on a few exercises and he got it super easy,” Wendelborn said. “Just a few minutes of dedicated attention and he totally got it.”
She said his eyes were glowing. She even got butterflies from his excitement and the fact he passed the test with the rest of the class.
Wendelborn is considering switching her major to liberal studies, partly because she has always had teaching in the back of her mind, but also because this experience opened her eyes to the ways she can positively impact others. Wendelborn said giving back is always beneficial.
She also plans to buy all of her expensive books next semester with her prize money, because this semester she spent almost $600 on textbooks.
The recognized student organization awards for service were a $1,000 and a $250 SDSU Bookstore gift cards, as well as an honorable mention which went to three winning groups of TOMS prize packs.
Small and large groups were equally represented in regards to determining the winner of the service hours, Rob O’Keefe, A.S. vice president of finance and chair of the community service board, said.
After the homecoming parade, students were invited to the SDSU Bookstore, where there was food, drinks and music hosted by KCR Radio.
Jakobsen said they were not sure what to expect, but many students asked how they could participate and showed genuine interest in the event.
“We learn from our mistakes, from our success,” O’Keefe said. “If we can get some more exposure, I think in future years it can be a very successful and touted event on campus.”
Students who registered for the event through Student Life and Leadership were given a tote bag and a green wristband with access to discounts throughout the store.
“I can’t wait for it to grow and grow over the next few years,” Jakobsen said.
Summer said the prizes were socially relevant products. TOMS donated merchandise and the bookstore provided the rest. Alta Gracia Apparel and MAC Cosmetics donated time and effort, including complimentary lipgloss applications.
Individual awards for service:
1st place: Nicole Mayer
2nd place: Michael Garcia
3rd place: Amanda Willis, Amanda Spendlove, David Rozul, Stephanie Fryar, Scott Frame, Deanna Pouthavone
Group awards for service:
1st place: Sigma Phi Epsilon
2nd place: Circle K
3rd place: Alpha Phi Omega
Individual awards for stories:
1st place: Leanne Wendelborn
2nd place: Kevin Andrew Won
3rd place: Samantha Morcos, Michelle Lassigne-Vargas