Aztec alumni share leadership advice with current students

by Jasmine Bermudez, Staff Writer

Current San Diego State students gathered in Montezuma Hall on Thursday, Nov. 12, to hear advice from SDSU alumni about becoming successful leaders.

The One SDSU Community group organized the event that gathered five alumni to discuss issues they experienced in their professional careers and how they overcame them. The event was titled, “Aztec Leaders: Past, Present, and Future.”

The event allowed students to communicate with the Aztec alumni through a panel discussion that followed a speech from each of the five alumni.

SDSU Center for Intercultural Relations Director Christy Quiogue said the speakers are alumni from different communities that have experienced leadership, activism and community empowerment during various decades.

The first former student to speak was Harold Brown, a distinguished student leader who graduated in 1959. He served as president of the only African-American fraternity and was arrested several times for protesting racial descrimination. Brown spoke of his experiences fighting against discrimination, saying leadership requires courage, commitment, strength and sacrifice.

“Involve yourselves in the challenges of today’s world,” Brown said.“With your education, you must provide leadership.”

LGBT and civil rights activist Doug Case also appeared on the panel. He said a leader must find a cause he or she is passionate about and be true to him or herself.

“We must speak with a voice that is louder than all of the hate in the world,” Case said.

Representing the 1990s was Association of Chicana Activists Co-founder Guadalupe Corona and Pacific Islander Student Association Co-founder Tana Lepule.

Corona is a feminist activist who shared her experiences overcoming challenges associated with diversity. She said leadership is about taking calculated risks, uniting people and making change.

Lepule is an activist for Pacific Islanders who believes it is necessary for leaders to engage, encourage and empower others. He spoke of the importance of utilizing assets such as community and culture.

“Recognize who is not at the table,” Lepule said.

The final speaker was Kelli Kedis Ogborn. Ogborn shared her ongoing struggle to overcome stereotypes. She said it is important to realize and remember everyone deals with prejudice.

“Don’t let labels hold you back,” Ogborn said.

After the event, students discussed their connection with the speakers and the advice that impacted them the most.

“With being a leader, there comes responsibility, but there is so much that can happen when you step up, become a leader and make change,” SDSU public relations and communication double major Anthony Lee said.

SDSU Dean of Students Randy Timm said the goal of the event was for current students to learn these challenges happen through the years and every student generation is faced with challenges that they have to stand up to.

Timm said it’s important for students to see there are people they could look up to that have been in their shoes before.