San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Get your S.W.A.G. on


On April 27 from 5 to 8 p.m., S.W.A.G. Success Week will begin at Tony Gwynn Stadium with the main event seminar, “What’s Your Why?” featuring inspirational speaker and San Diego State alumna Sade Burrell, international business senior Ryan Vanshur and critically acclaimed author and speaker Eric Thomas.

The SDSU Society of S.W.A.G. represents “Students with Academic Game,” an organization founded in 2013 by Vanshur.

Vanshur wanted to start the program as part of a personal bucket list after being diagnosed with cancer in 2012. After completing the last eight months of chemotherapy, Vanshur said it was tough to even continue with school full-time, but credits Eric Thomas, his family and SDSU for helping him through the process.

“The idea came from sickness, and now it’s me giving back to the people who helped me through that whole experience,” Vanshur said.

Vanshur realized that several other leadership students all knew who Eric Thomas was, and wanted to try and get him to speak at SDSU. When Vanshur originally reached out to Thomas, he was told that the cost would be $10,000, which was a lot of money for a student-run organization of 25 students.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Vanshur said. “But I reached out to presidents from other organizations, and after eight months we’ve raised about $15,000.”

The theme of the success seminar is “One SDSU”, which essentially draws on the diverse body of the campus.

“We essentially created the theme as ‘overcoming obstacles,’” Vanshur said. “It can encompass any college or niche on campus.”

Vanshur managed to incorporate Student Life and Leadership, Career Services, the athletics department, the 2014 Homecoming king and queen, and other students who have overcome an obstacle through these types of programs.

“The biggest thing is giving the spotlight to those types of organizations on campus that are helping students through tough times,” Vanshur said. “But we also want to show that the campus outside of those programs are supportive of their struggles as well.”

The theme of the week is consistent with the first message in the main event seminar on Monday, “What’s your Why?” After the first event comes the other four workshops. The first workshop on Tuesday is all about “Making a Decision,” hosted by Student Life and Leadership. On Tuesday, the workshop is hosted by Career Services, and shows students ways to “Create a Plan.”

On Thursday, the workshop is hosted by the athletics department, which discusses teamwork. The week will conclude on Friday with a more personalized event that holds the message to never give up.

“The panel is about facilitating conversation that wouldn’t normally happen in another setting,” Vanshur said.

Burrell, Homecoming king and queen Sara Roldan and Brandon Ishikata, and SDSU student Megan Isaacson will host the student panel.

“I’m looking forward to inspiring others, and to share my story because I don’t want anyone feeling the way I once felt,” Roldan said. “I want to devote my life to telling my story to fellow fighters, survivors and students.”

This one-week series creates a campus-wide initiative for students to learn more about themselves, and overcome any overwhelming issues they may possess. Free tickets for the seminar can be picked up at the box office in front of Viejas Arena during regular business hours.

About the Contributor
Christine Whitman
Christine Whitman, Arts and Culture Editor
Christine Whitman is the arts and culture editor for The Daily Aztec for the 2016-17 academic year. She is a senior studying public relations and communications here at San Diego State. Christine started writing for The Daily Aztec in 2013 and has never looked back. For questions of comments, contact Christine at
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
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