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Craig Stevens: An Aztec in Reverse

by Alumni Codices

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I lived my SDSU life and experience in reverse. I should have been more involved!

Growing up in Dana Point, CA allowed me to become a waterman at a young age and the ocean became a big part of my life.  So, when my dad got transferred to Scottsdale, AZ the summer before my senior year in high school, my world was turned upside down. I went out to AZ and checked out the beautiful country club home, the high school, ASU, U of A and concluded: there’s no ocean, so there’s no way I can live here!  I cut a deal to live with friends of the family, finished Dana Hills High School a semester early, turned down UCLA and headed to SDSU/Pacific Beach in August 1978 for the beach-oriented lifestyle.

Since my sister was a senior and my dad didn’t want to pay dorm or apartment costs for two kids, he bought a place down by Mission Bay, so he too could have a San Diego weekend pad. Oh great…Dad will be dropping in on weekends is what I thought.  It was cool, but after the first year, I yearned to be closer to the social action and moved to an apartment on Montezuma across from Zura.  I was right in the thick of it.

My roommate, who was a high school pal, was not interested in Greek life. But, a gal we had met on a recent random three guy, three gal trip to this place called Rosarito Beach, convinced me I ought to come by the Lambda Chi Alpha house to meet the “bro’s” and to see what it was all about.  I went and the rest is history.  My college life burst wide open and I immediately had over 150 guy friends and exposed to everyone they knew and the sororities we socialized with.  Life was good.  My roommate ended up jumping on the band wagon and ultimately became President of the fraternity.

I knew from the get-go that I would be a business major.  It was in one of my first upper division classes on investments, that I realized I really liked finance and the markets. So, I declared finance as a major, even though I thought of myself as a natural marketer.  I figured the harder degree would serve as a good foundation for my life in business.

At the time, all I wanted to do was get out of college.  I honestly was never that into my classes.  I knew I would light the world on fire once I was out, and that’s what I was focused on.  I had always worked since I was twelve. I always saw myself as successful. I always saw myself retiring young and I always saw myself as being self employed. I enjoyed my college social life immensely, was involved a little with the Associated Business Students Council, but for the most part, was not real connected to the happenings at SDSU or the faculty/staff.

Funny how things work, but my part time work as a pseudo law clerk for an older fraternity brother led to a beefed-up resume and me getting hired as an intern at Private Ledger (the PL in LPL Financial- a big, national securities brokerage firm here in San Diego). My “hands on” work there and exposure to the financial markets really opened my eyes. I guess I did well and was offered a job before I graduated. After a month vacation to St. Thomas, USVI, I put on my tie and was on my way. Career started.

I worked in San Diego for a couple of years and then jumped for more money and advancement back to Orange County. I climbed the corporate ladder in financial services/commercial real estate for twenty years. I worked for firms like IDM, Fidelity National Financial, The Koll Company and CBRE. During these times, I was not involved with SDSU. I was in Orange County and busy with life, kids etc.

Six years ago, my son redirected from CU- Colorado Boulder and took his SDSU offer. I was glad.  We attended orientation and I was blown away by my alma mater!  Right there, I decided that I wanted to be more connected and to create a path for my son to become connected after he graduated.  So…I volunteered to take over as the volunteer head of the SDSU- Orange County Alumni Association. We started having football and basketball viewing events, we had deans, coaches and Presidents come speak…we networked and expanded the Aztec Nation in OC to over 600 active alumns!  Great people came out of the woodworks! Real people doing real jobs in all walks of life. Upon finding out about what SDSU is today….all instantaneously became proud SDSU Aztecs. I have loved getting to know fellow Aztecs, to socialize with them, network with them, help them and to invite them to reconnect to SDSU.

Eventually, I remarried, left CBRE and formed a commercial real estate firm, Mar West Real Estate, with my wife.  We grew the firm over ten years and then sold it to Firstservice Corporation of Toronto ($2.5b). After the 2012 sale, we semi-retired and moved back to San Diego/Pacific Beach for the beach-oriented lifestyle.

I went on to join the College of Business Board of Directors, The SDSU Corky Mc Millin Center for Real Estate board, became actively involved with the Lavin Entrepreneurial Management Center, The Real Estate Society, a guest lecturer and now…. I teach a one unit, full semester BA 402 upper division business class about “how to prepare for and get that first career job”.

So…as it turns out…I love teaching, giving back, the students, my faculty friends, administrators, the sports games and being reconnected to SDSU! I am back in San Diego and very involved in SDSU.  I did it in reverse!

 

Craig T. Stevens graduated with a degree in finance in 1982.
 
Climbed the ladder in financial services and commercial real estate with LPL, IDM, Fidelity National Financial, Koll and CBRE before heading the entrepreneurial call and forming Mar West Real Estate in 2003.  Built Mar West with his wife, April, and sold it in December 2012 to Firstservice Corporation, a global commercial real estate services company. 
 
Craig lives back in North Pacific Beach, is semi-retired and looking to reinvent himself and start another company. Craig enjoys surfing, golfing, biking, sailing and tennis. He and his wife have three grown children and two dogs.
 
Craig is the CBA Monty Award winner for 2012.
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