Promotion Creates Awareness of Alumni Association
Robin Koenig and Jan Kohler appeared unsure quite what to make of all the hubbub surrounding the Alumni Association tent set up on Centennial Walkway near the Student Services Building south of the SDSU Bookstore. It was noon on the second day of classes and dozens of students were crowding around the pop-up awning hoping to score a free T-shirt.
(l-r) New students Robin Koenig and Jan Kohler display their Aztec for Life T-shirts.
Like other newcomers enrolling at SDSU for the first time, Koenig and Kohler, who are both upper division exchange students from Germany, had signed up for the shirts weeks before during new student orientation. They received text messages from the Alumni Association telling them where and when to pick up the shirts.
"I like it. It's great," said Koenig as he examined his white T-shirt with the words “Aztec for Life” emblazoned in black lettering across the chest. The junior from Bremen who is studying journalism and media studies with the intent of working in advertising, vowed to wear his shirt “everywhere.”
His friend, Kohler, a lanky senior studying digital media and computer science, was pleased just to have one that fit.
"In my size, it's hard to get one," he said. “I will wear it in Germany everywhere and here maybe for training or working out."
MORE TO THE MESSAGE
New students line up to receive Aztec for Life T-shirts.
That’s what SDSU Alumni Association Associate Director Tammy Blackburn likes to hear. She said one of the purposes of the T-shirt giveaway is to spread the organization’s message of a lifetime connection to SDSU from the moment a new student steps on campus.
“We definitely want them to feel like they’re part of the Aztec family now,” she said, “and we want them to feel that way for the rest of their lives.”
But Blackburn explained there’s much more to the Aztec-for-life message. The T-shirt giveaway establishes an awareness of the Alumni Association in the minds of students at the outset of their college experience.
(l-r) Freshmen Pedro Cardenas, Rosa Maria Pablo and Julie Nguyen display their Aztec for Life T-shirts.
“Too often we approach graduating seniors about joining the Alumni Association and they aren’t quite sure who we are and what we do,” she said. “The earlier we establish a connection with students and are viewed by them in a positive way, the likelier they are later in life to be receptive to our messages of support for the university.”
Blackburn said students who signed up will receive text messages about once a month during the semester alerting them to special offers on campus like the T-shirts or free pizza. The giveaways serve as a reminder that Aztec alumni want to help them succeed and that there is an expectation of helping to elevate the university even after graduation.
PRIDE AND SPIRIT
It’s a message that seems to be getting through to many of the more than 350 T-shirt recipients who stopped by to claim their prize.
Junior transfer student Lisa Bui with her Aztec for Life T-shirt.
"This shirt says, ‘Aztec for Life' and to me it symbolizes a unity between everybody on campus, whether you're alumni or freshman, undergrad or graduate,” said Julie Nguyen, an 18-year-old nursing student from Oakland. “It just makes us feel like one big family. I'm feeling ‘Aztec' and it's only been our second day of school."
“It makes you feel the pride and the spirit of being here at San Diego State," agreed Pedro Cardenas, an 18-year-old civil engineering major from National City.
But symbolism and messages aside, sometimes it’s just nice to receive Aztec schwag.
"It's great,” observed junior transfer student Lisa Bui. “There's nothing wrong with getting free stuff."