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Thursday, December 13, 2018

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Oliva Silva was among the many SDSU-Imperial Valley graduating students that donated to the Leave Your Legacy student scholarship fund. Oliva Silva was among the many SDSU-Imperial Valley graduating students that donated to the Leave Your Legacy student scholarship fund.

A Lesson in Generosity

SDSU-Imperial Valley graduates leave a legacy of giving.
By Tobin Vaughn

San Diego State University-Imperial Valley recently hosted Grad Night for its students. The event featured snacks, music and raffles for the more than 170 graduating students celebrating their impending commencement.

In addition to their graduation, SDSU-Imperial Valley’s Class of 2017 had another reason to celebrate: the highest participation rate of the Leave Your Legacy campaign since its inception three years ago. Almost half of the graduating students contributed at least $10 to the initiative by SDSU Alumni to fund permanent scholarship endowments for future students. Kasey Chiang was one of the donors.

“I wanted to give back to the school that gave me my education, gave me opportunity, and gave me so many great experiences because the teachers here are amazing,” she said.

Paying it forward

Working for the California Student Opportunity and Access Program through Calexico High School, Chiang said she sees the difference scholarships can make for students. In fact, she said she received a scholarship her freshman year that was meaningful to her both psychologically and financially.

“To receive a scholarship from SDSU-Imperial Valley was like saying, ‘you are worthy of an education,’” Chiang said. “A scholarship is like validation that I can reach my dreams and achieve my goals.”

Leave Your Legacy is part of the Aztec Proud program that so far has generated more than $185,000 for student scholarships. Each graduating student who donates receives a red and white braided cord to wear during commencement where they will be asked to stand and be recognized for their philanthropic commitment.

“This program is a key component to our continuing effort to educate students and alumni about the importance of philanthropy at SDSU,” said Tammy Blackburn (’94, ’01), SDSU’s Director of Development Technology, who initiated the Class Legacy Scholarship Fund concept with the Class of 2015. “Student success is at the heart of everything we do and scholarships are a vital part of boosting student success.”

A tight-knit community

The idea of philanthropy seems to resonate with many students at SDSU-Imperial Valley. Calexico native Kevin Solis said he donated to help someone else from the tight-knit community the university serves.

“This is a small community so you likely know the future students who will benefit from the scholarships you give to,” said Solis. “Scholarships are a great opportunity for students to continue their careers."

SDSU-Imperial Valley students contribute to the Leave Your Legacy campaign at more than five times the rate compared to SDSU's main campus. Graduating senior Oliva Silva said many of the 900 students at SDSU-Imperial Valley come from low-income families and can relate to the financial struggles other students face on their path to graduation.

“I received financial aid and it helped me finish my schooling," Silva said. “It’s important to get an education and if it weren't for the help I received I wouldn't be here celebrating my graduation."

SDSU graduating students—or anyone else wanting to support the Leave Your Legacy student scholarship fund—may contribute online.