Aztec Dance Marathon is one of hundreds of Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon events that take place across the country (and Canada). Each of these dance marathon efforts benefit a local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, this one being Rady Children’s of San Diego. The year long initiative comes to fruition at the overnight dance marathon where participants or,”dancers” are on their feet for 15 hours in honor of and celebration for the kids who cannot. They have raised over $120,000 for the hospital in just two years on campus, making them the highest fundraising philanthropic organization at SDSU.
SDSU’s Aztec Dance Marathon celebrates a week of astonishing achievements as the highest fundraising philanthropic organization on campus
While the third annual official event is scheduled for February 2017, this week offered a series of events on campus promoting their mission, values, purpose, and encouraging students to join the movement. Miracle Week can be closely compared to a homecoming week of sorts. It was presented as a time to unify students under one cause. The week began with an inspiration day where members of ADM wore and distributed gold ribbons to celebrate awareness for childhood illness. With an initial goal of registering 250 new dancers and raising $10,000 throughout the entire week, they astonished the campus as the organization went above and beyond all expectations. On recruitment day the group managed to oversee over 1,000 participants who created an online fundraising page, pledging their commitment to collect funds and participate in the event this spring. Education day was a time to really get down to the core of dance marathon and the patients it serves. Members of the organization hosted an event in the Aztec Student Union with giveaways, music, and an opportunity for anyone interested to learn more information.
This is the final thermometer posted from the Aztec Dance Marathon social media pages, although I’m sure a new total will be revealed at the end of the 24 hour mark.
With the fourth day of Miracle Week: Fundraising Day rapidly approaching, fundraising chair Mackenzie Kahl was nervous about maintaining the momentum of the week throughout this “Push Day.” She confessed that the burden of reaching such an ambitious goal of “Five K in One Day” was weighing heavily on her, but she had faith in her team and the dancers they recruited. In one day alone…and really just about 12 hours, the organization raised an overwhelming $13,000. These thermometer posts were revealed throughout the day, keeping followers updated on the stance of their efforts. The overall goal of dance marathon is $101,000 and the final fundraising total will be revealed in the final hour of the overnight event on the morning of February 25th. There is still another day left in Miracle Week, focused on offering recognition and appreciation to registered dancers and everyone who has contributed to the cause. For more information about Aztec Dance Marathon, or if you want to contribute to the cause, feel free to visit their Facebook page or any of their other social media accounts.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Justice in the Division of Undergraduate Studies: Undeclared Students here at SDSU. He shed some light on one of the more misunderstood, but ever important parts of our academic programming and advising.
In our interview, Paul informed me that at any given time there is anywhere from 800-1300 students who fall under his jurisdiction of “undeclared.” Majority of these students are freshmen, however there are instances where students change their mind or fail to meet the requirements for a major and rescind into undeclared. This is far from a negative thing. Paul reiterated that being undeclared opens students up to resources that would not be as readily or easily available to the average student set in their respective departments. He revealed the best tool for undecided students that he developed and updates regularly…an Excel spreadsheet. This sheet cannot be found elsewhere and includes: every department’s unit requirements, advisor contact information, trial courses to take if interested in the major (before having to declare), GPA requirements, and more. This is a living, breathing document that he plans to never perfect, but continuously grow and adapt.
For those who are unaware, San Diego State University offers a degree program that is rather unique and coveted by other universities. This was designed to assist students who are unable to meet course requirements for a particular major, or who have decided upon a major that SDSU does not offer. Interdisciplinary Studies allows students to work with three different major departments to craft a personalized field of study. Paul oversees this program within Undeclared. He understands that students may become discouraged or want to transfer schools when they cannot seem to find a department or major that is right for them, Interdisciplinary Studies is the answer.
Lastly, Paul wanted to make sure that I let everyone know (especially parents of incoming students) that it is okay to be unsure. He insists that not having your mind made up at 18 is far from radical, and his department will offer the tools needed to get you where you (eventually) want to be. More than that, he has started a program for students who were once Undeclared, but found their home at SDSU. These students now have the opportunity to mentor current undecided students. Paul leads workshops with the assistance of these mentors. Each month has a different theme and they are open to all students interested (undeclared, or not). The purpose of these is to build and maintain a sense of comaradarie. or a “cohort” as he likes to call it, where students can develop a connection to each other and the university. Feeling connected to the university is something that, previously, these students were lacking. Sometimes this led them to transfer schools, or have a diminished Aztec experience. The hope is that this program will alleviate both. It is for these reasons that Paul is confident that indecision may start in the Office of Undeclared, but it will end there also.
I had the pleasure of interviewing two campus leaders about two major initiatives taking place at SDSU : Sarah Bentley (California State Student Association Advocacy Officer) and Carmel Alon ( Vice-Chair of the External Relations Board of Associated Students). These women shed light on the Aztecs Rock Hunger and Rock the Vote campaigns happening for the duration of October through mid-November. The interviews originally aired on kcrlive.com during the Tuesday morning news show Coffee and Tee.
ROCK THE VOTE
Both Sarah and Carmel are heavily involved in political advocacy efforts for higher education. Regardless of party affiliation, they encourage students to register to vote. Rock the Vote is a segment hosted through the External Relations Board of Associated Students, but their work does not stop after October 24th (the deadline to register) or November 8th (election day). ERB works throughout the year to propose legislation, address campus-wide or CSU-wide issues, and represent the students of San Diego State within local and statewide political spheres. ERB will also be hosting events to increase voter knowledge about measures and propositions within the California ballot. A local plan proposed by the College Area Community Council that is directly applicable to San Diego State Students calls for a raise in the Community Assisted Party Program fine from $1,000 per household resident, plus the landlord, to $10,000 per resident on the lease. Students have the ability to sit in on these college area meetings, and certainly have the ability to vote on any local legislation that arises. Students can register to vote through the AS website link, or during any one of the tabling events this week.
AZTECS ROCK HUNGER
Sarah is the very literally the voice of the Aztecs Rock Hunger campaign, as it is her voice you hear in this video that was sent to students to kick off the 2016 food drive. From this video, and the ARH website, it was made known that food insecurity is prevalent on this campus. The funds collected will directly benefit the Jacobs and Kushman Food Bank, but 20% will also be allocated to SDSU students in need through the economic crisis team. There are five ways to donate that include cash donations through the Aztecs Rock Hunger venmo account, collections during tabling initiatives, opportunities to donate at all Aztec Market Shops and campus Starbucks, online at the ARH website , and physical donations of non-perishable items to the red bins located throughout campus. Aztecs Rock Hunger has a goal of raising 400,000 pounds of food for the local San Diego community, with a one dollar donation equivocating six pounds of food. Election cycles often leaves students feeling discouraged, or motivated to get involved and make a difference in their community. This program, as mentioned by Sarah and Carmel, is a great way to hone in on the latter. Aztecs Rock Hunger will last through mid-November, and more information can be found on their website, or any of their social media pages.