At any given moment on campus, one student’s diligent research is leading to breakthrough discoveries, while another’s idea for a volunteer project is changing lives on the other side of the world. Every year, San Diego State University students take their personal and academic achievements to new heights, and every year SDSU sets out to find those students who exemplify a commitment to excellence.
The 2014 Quest for the Best winners represent SDSU’s standout student leaders who have excelled academically while dedicating themselves to both campus involvement and community service.
Estefania Castañeda Pérez
Senior, Political Science; minor in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies
My Defining Aztec Experience: "Studying abroad in Japan gave me more than just an opportunity to learn the language. I connected with people from different cultures, which taught me a lot about cross cultural relations. Those lessons will stay with me as I continue down my career path."
What’s Next: Pursue a Ph.D. in political science and continue research on cross-border commuters and border studies.
My Defining Aztec Experience: "The turning point in my college career was participating in Aztec CORE. I was able to meet great student leaders who inspired me to become a better person. It was through those initial meetings at Aztec CORE that I became inspired to get more involved on campus and made it my goal to eventually become AS President."
What’s Next: Pursue an MBA, found a leadership consulting firm, and become Governor of California.
Senior, Business Marketing; minor in Social and Personality Psychology
My Defining Aztec Experience: “Personally coming from humble beginnings being born in Chicago Illinois, programs such as Score, my church and mentors made me believe in myself and my future, and held me to high standards that I can hold myself to. Ultimately, serving my community is a privilege and personal priority for me through college and life. Serving the community really shows that just being present, giving your time and smile can make a difference of a lifetime!”
What’s Next: I will be working for 3M as well as with Reality Changers as Chief Inspiration Officer leading motivational and encouraging workshops for first generation college students.
Senior, Political Science and Psychology
My Defining Aztec Experience: “I've been most transformed by the experiences I've gained through leadership roles on campus, diversity training, and advocating for under served populations as an intern in Washington, D.C."
What’s Next: Intern with the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington D.C. and later attend Columbia law school to specialize in social justice.
My Defining Aztec Experience: “As president of Mortar Board I get to promote and take part in leadership opportunities across campus and throughout the community. Having a role in Dr. John Love’s research lab has also impacted me academically and professionally as a future researcher and scientist.”
What’s Next: Apply to medical school and pursue a career in clinical research in the field of neuroscience or biochemistry.
Junior, Liberal Studies with a literacy/performing arts emphasis
My Defining Aztec Experience: "My role as a senior resident advisor was transformational for me. I was able to develop my leadership skills through this experience that integrated conflict resolution, community building, learning about diversity and creating and participating in programming. All of these things made me a well-rounded and balanced leader."
What’s Next: Pursue a 2 year Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential and Master’s Degree in Education and become an elementary school teacher.
My Defining Aztec Experience: “Being involved in the United Sorority and Fraternity Council introduced me to a multitude of people from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations and socioeconomic statuses. Those unique perspectives have had such a positive impact on me. It’s helped me reflect on my personal experiences and understand the importance of my self identity and cultural identity.”
What’s Next: Attend the Leadership Development and Higher Education Master’s Program at the University of San Diego.
Junior, Business Administration Emphasis in Management Specializing in Entrepreneurship; minor in Interdisciplinary Studies
My Defining Aztec Experience: “I made my first foray into leadership as a freshman when I ran for an officer position in the Student African American Brotherhood. The fact that people recognized the potential in me before I had the experience to prove myself really ignited my confidence and helped me see my own potential. Now, I’m the president of that organization.”
What’s Next: I hope to pursue a Master Degree in Business Administration while working in a management position at a Fortune 500 company.
Senior, Psychology; minor in Biology
My Defining Aztec Experience: “I've found so much value and personal fulfillment in mentoring other students through organizations like the Psychology Mentoring Outreach and Education Program and Student Mentored Academic Training”
What’s next: After graduation, I’ll pursue a doctoral degree in Clinical Neuropsychology.
Senior, Mechanical Engineering; minor in Music with a classical emphasis
My Defining Aztec Experience: "When I joined Circle K, I was surrounded by like-minded people who are also focused on serving the community. They inspired me to run for leadership positions in organizations and helped me realize my potential as a leader."
What’s Next: I will be working as a Mechanical Engineer.