SAN DIEGO – The San Diego State athletic department hosted its signature Dinner with an Aztec event last week, bringing together 41 professionals from different industries and 59 senior student-athletes in a unique and eclectic networking event. The event is a unique opportunity for student-athletes to interact with professionals and learn more about various professions of interest.
Generously sponsored by E&J Gallo, Northwestern Mutual, ALDI, Kim Spinardi, CPA, Hamilton Tharp, LLP, XanderVison Medical Consultants, and SeaSpine, the eighth annual Dinner with an Aztec is an integral part of the Aztecs Going Pro program designed to prepare student-athletes to be the next generation of community leaders and talented young professionals.
“Dinner with an Aztec provided me with the opportunity to ask specific questions about my aspiring nursing career from a professional in the field,” said Onyi Anigbogu, a senior track and field student-athlete, who is interested in nursing. “The advice I was given will help me feel more confident as I finish out the nursing program application season.”
“Our Dinner with an Aztec event is an integral part of our Aztecs Going Pro student-athlete development program,” said SDSU director of athletics John David Wicker. “I am appreciative to the professionals who volunteered their time to meet our student-athletes and help them start their professional networks. The message delivered by our former student athletes, Tammy Blackburn, Spencer Thornton and Jason Alexander detailing their journey and the role being a student-athlete played in their success was important for our current student-athletes to hear. I’m also proud of our student-athletes for arriving prepared to take advantage of the opportunity to prepare themselves for the next step on their journey.”
San Diego State URAD senior director of marketing & communications Tammy Blackburn, an SDSU alumnus and former basketball student-athlete, was the emcee of the evening providing dynamic energy. The keynote speakers were Spencer Thornton, a project manager – corporate buying and district Manager at ALDI and former baseball player, and Jason Alexander, an owner/distributor principal at XanderVision Medical Consultants and former football player.
“I am particularly proud of this group of seniors who have not only made a difference in their sport but have also really raised the Aztecs Going Pro bar by working hard to refine the skills and tools they need to be successful for life after sports and SDSU,” said SDSU assistant athletic director for student-athlete development Danielle Kelly. “They were the most prepared group of seniors I have seen as they had an opportunity to attend Network with an Aztec on September 27 that allowed them to practice networking with 40 employers.
“These senior student-athletes have completed over 64 hours of civic engagement, personal growth and career development programming throughout their time at SDSU by taking a 1-unit student-athlete development course each year.”
Dinner with an Aztec is an important part of Aztecs Going Pro, a comprehensive, four-year student-athlete development program centered around three foundational pillars: personal growth, career development, and civic engagement. Student-athletes receive yearly innovative programming, one-on-one coaching, and unique experiential learning opportunities to help them create and prepare for their post-graduate plans and build a strong network of connections available through the San Diego State University community. The Aztecs Going Pro program includes four one-unit courses that apply toward graduation requirements.