Category Archives: Alumni

From Political Science to the Presidential Campaign


Krista Parker is a former Associated Students Executive Officer at San Diego State University. She graduated in spring 2012 with a degree in political science and jumped right in to working on the reelection campaign of President Barack Obama. Following is her account of what that experience was like.

On July 14th, I jumped on a plane to begin the crazy adventure of campaign life- my destination Virginia Beach, VA. As one of the most important battleground “states”, I say state in quotations simply because VA considers itself a Commonwealth still to this day, VA was the place to be for this roller coaster Presidential Election and I was the lucky one who was able to sit in the front!Krista Parker

While in Virginia Beach, my role as a Field Organizer resulted in sleepless nights, stressful situations and pressure that is on the border of being scary. No day on the campaign was ever the same however our ultimate goal was consistent … win. That process was centralized around three types of communications: phone calls, knocking on doors and getting people registered to vote. I was responsible for seven voting precincts and the majority of those precincts had voted Republican back in 2008 so the difficulty level was high but the challenge was accepted. I met so many people on this journey ranging from the 78 year old woman who couldn’t read therefore had never registered to vote because nobody would help her with the form, to the man who lost his job because it was shipped overseas. Every person we talked to had a story of why they supported our candidate and every person had a vote.

On September 27th, I had the honor to meet the man I was working so hard for – President Barack Obama. I could use the cliché line of “this was the best moment of my life so far” and I will. We held a campaign rally in Virginia Beach that resulted in approximately 7,000 people to show their support for him. After he spoke, he walked around the crowd shaking hands, taking pictures and talking to the voters. This was my chance to thank him for everything he had done for the country and for me as a woman and student. He made his way around the curve and he shook my hand. His famous campaign quote came out of my mouth “Don’t Boo, Vote” he came in closer and replied “What did you say sweetie?” I repeated myself a little louder and slightly more confident and he smiled with a response “That’s right, Don’t Boo, Vote. Thank you for what you are doing for this country” THAT was the best moment of my life, so far.

krista parkerFrom July until early October, I spent most of my time developing teams to work as hard as possible during the final push – Get Out the Vote (GOTV). GOTV was by far the most exciting time on the campaign because everything started to fall into place. The polls didn’t matter in my eyes and I had to stop even looking at them as we started to inch toward November 6th. The days leading up to the election resulted in horrible fast food, absolutely no sleep and many trips to 7-11 for energy drinks. Think of finals week but far worse. Walk packets had to be prepped, scripts have to be crafted for volunteers and everything had to be perfect or you risk failure. We were lucky enough to have the best teams, the best voters and the best system – that resulted in an election night projecting our candidate Barack Obama the winner of the 2012 election.

Nothing is perfect. At some of our precincts, we had people waiting in line for 10 hours to cast their vote for the President in the pouring rain. We had systems that were meant to prevent any large problems and they were successful. We had worked for months to get to this moment. Our work had paid off and the President was re-elected. It was draining and exhausting but on election night after all the polls had closed and the results were final, it was all worth it. Four out of my seven precincts voted Democrat and voter turnout increased drastically. One of my precincts ended up having a seven vote difference, in favor of the President. That is the direct effect of a ground team and that is what won the election for the President.

Many have asked me “would I ever do this again?” My answer stays the same, I don’t know if I will ever connect with a candidate the same way I did with the President. I can’t imagine doing this for a candidate that I didn’t fully agree with their policies or their politics. The President is someone I supported and was willing to work 20 hour days for 7 days a week and to find a candidate like that will take time. The friendships I have made and the experience is absolutely priceless, so on that note, if the opportunity presents itself and one truly believes in a candidate, jump on the campaign while you can still operate in “college” like conditions. The outcome is worth it!

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Huddle Up!


Jim Herrick is the Director of the SDSU Alumni Association. This post originally appeared in his blog, Directly Speaking.

Okay, huddle up!

Pardon the football analogy but it is difficult not to go there at this time of year.  And the team approach to problem solving remains in vogue.

The problem, or challenge, as it were, is that only two percent of our undergraduate degree-holding alumni are annual donors.  We have dissected this at length for six months and concluded that Aztec alumni who love their alma mater will help improve this abysmal percentage if they fully understand why it is important to do so.  First some facts that support the notion that it is readily apparent that Aztec alumni love SDSU:

What our research indicates is that alumni do not understand that annual gifts of any amount factor into the rankings provided by US News and World Report and that donating to SDSU helps the university rise in those rankings and therefore in national stature. What alumni may also not understand is that any amount literally means ANY amount and that gifts to any San Diego State University department, college, entity, athletic team or program, scholarship, or particular academic major or program all count as gifts to SDSU.

We also learned that many alumni fall into two categories.  Category one is, “The only time you communicate is to ask for money.”  Category two is, “I’ve never been asked.”

Well, we are going to start asking.

Because here is the punch line: We need all of our alumni who love SDSU to donate some amount to any SDSU entity every year.  We need you to declare by action that you believe in your alma mater. We need you to be counted as among those who are helping State carve a better reputation.

Did I mention any amount?

Thanks for clicking here: Give Now

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Our basketball season is over … now what?


Did your bracket come crashing down — and your season come screaching to an end — when the Aztecs lost to North Carolina State in the 2nd round of the NCAATournament last week? Are you already itching for next season to start? Are you thinking to yourself ‘Now what? What will I do with my Tuesday and Saturday nights, if not watching college basketball at the Madhouse on the Mesa?’

Well, you’re in luck, because, as I learned a few years ago, life does go on after the basketball season and, at SDSU, there are actually plenty of other things to do outside of Viejas Arena.

For instance, a former United States Ambassador to Israel is on campus today, speaking about the Middle East.  If Peace in the Middle East is a little too political for your taste, the School of Music and Dance is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and has something fun and entertaining going on all the time.

And the Farmer’s Market … ohhhh the Farmer’s Market.

But if you just must get your sports fix, there are still lots of spring sports going on, like baseball, softball, golf and tennis.

I guess the point is, sometimes we take for granted all the activities we have going on right under our noses here on campus. Take a minute and check out the events calendar and try an event you’ve never done before. The upcoming Jazz Ensemble at Smith Recital Hall isn’t the same as The Show. But it’ll be a good show none the less.

 

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Top University Videos of 2011


One of the most powerful forms of media is video. I’ve heard it called the “You’ve got to see this” factor, that transcends language. If a video is fun, funny, unique or moving, people will watch it, share it, comment on it — and it will help get your message across in a powerful way.

As a professional in higher education, I particularly like to see what other universities are doing when it comes to video. So following, in no particular rank or order, are 6 of the best university videos that I found from 2011.

  1. San Diego State University – I’ll start with our own. We’ve gone away from the typical institutional television spot showing faculty members in labs coats and tried to do something a little more fun, that shows both the passion of our alumni, and the reach we have into the community. Our institutional spot focused on a chant that the student section does before every home basketball game – “I Believe.” The commercial features several prominent alumni, including the founder of the Rubio’s Fresh Mexican food chain, Ralph Rubio, and the mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders. But the best part is what we did after the commercial debuted. We were able to get Mayor Sanders to join the student section before a game to lead them in the chant. And we captured it on a smart phone (Not all videos need to be professionally produced to have impact). But the video was a hit and shows the excitement and atmosphere at our games.

  2. Boston UniversityBoston Red Sox, Behind the Lens.  We all like to share stories about our successful alumni.  BU does a great job on this feature, shadowing this sports photographer as he shares his experiences taking pictures at historic Fenway Park in Boston. The production value of the video is outstanding, very creative, weaving in still photography, making it look as though it’s moving. And the story is compelling, like something you might see on a network sports show.
  3. University of Toledo#whyUToledo. This is a great example of an integrated approach to new media. It started as a Twitter campaign, asking people why they chose UT. Then they took the images of the actual Tweets and made a video out of it, with voice overs of (supposedly) the students reading their Tweets. Really fun, forward thinking, great way to connect with the generation that is currently looking to go to college.
  4. McMaster UniversityThis Month with the President. While this is a very simple concept, execution is not always as easy. McMaster sits down, in a different location, each month with the president of their university and has him discuss a particular topic. It’s not scripted, there’s no teleprompter. It’s just him sharing his thoughts. It’s a great way to personalize someone who, often times, people on campus don’t get to interact with.
  5. University of OregonCall me a Duck. I’m a sucker for Hip Hop songs being used in non-traditional places. And this one is outstanding. It’s actually sung by an a Capella group from UO that went on a national television singing competition show. It’s an amazingly well produced music video that shows school pride, passion and creativity.
  6. Bowling Green UniversityStroh Center Rap. One of the challenges in the Advancement and Development world is educating people – particularly students – about the importance of philanthropy to a university. The typical introduction of a newly built and/or named building is a press release and a ribbon cutting ceremony with a photo opp. The opening of Bowling Green’s new basketball arena, The Stroh Center, was anything but typical, thanks to this video. The rap talks about the people who made the building possible, including how much money they gave. — “He will melt your face with his philanthropy” — And the video features those donors. The production value of the video is excellent. But for my money, getting the donors to participate in the video is well worth the watch.

What great university videos did you produce or see this past year?

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Filed under Admissions, Alumni, Athletics, New Media, Prospective Students, Students, University News

Commencement is Here!


Commencement ceremonies may not happen until May, but for me they’re right now.

Let me explain.  I’m currently building a new commencement website.  There is a great deal of information to organize and communicate and I am neck-deep in it all.

Commencement is the most important thing we do.

Much of the information is geared toward students, but families and friends are also included. Schedules and other critical instructions are sorted by college.

This student graduated from SDSU in 2011

Commencement captures a feeling of momentous achievement for many graduates, illustrated by this SDSU graduate from 2011.

Believe it or not – if you have a twenty-something college student for a child, my guess is you believe it – some students don’t know their college.

That’s right.  After four-plus years and all those classes in the Arts and Letters Building, some literature major will email commencement organizers to ask, “What’s my college?”

This prompted me to include on the site a list of majors and departments by college.  I’m sure we’ll still get those emails.

Cynicism aside, commencement is the most important thing we do.  More important than the novel discoveries, innovative programs and community service, graduating students defines the value of San Diego State University.

I’m reviewing hundreds of photos from last year’s commencement and I’m struck by the emotions captured in each snapshot – a mix of elation, pride, satisfaction.

A few knowing students look afraid, perhaps about entering the real world.

But most look happy.  They leave campus with terrific memories, hard-earned achievements and the initiative to take on their next challenge.

To the class of 2012, I offer a hearty, “Congratulations!”

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Filed under Alumni, Commencement, Events, Greater Good, Students, Uncategorized

10 Things I’m Thankful for As SDSU’s Chief Communications Officer


As the SDSU community closes out the year, I’d like to reflect on some of the things I’m most thankful for.  I know – it seems like we are inundated with lists this time of year – but my team tells me lists get lots of hits, so here goes…Student Services

10. Stephen Weber – for 15 years, President Weber was the identity of our campus – and our most effective storyteller.  He transformed SDSU and left us with incredible momentum.

9. Elliot Hirshman – SDSU could not have found a better president.  He has brought new energy, passion, humor and a laser focus on student success.

8. Steve Fisher, Beth Burns, Rocky Long, Tony Gwynn and all SDSU’s outstanding coaches – SDSU would be a great university without a great Athletics program but now we’re on the verge of having both.  Beyond building successful programs, these incredible people work daily to shape outstanding citizens.

7. 69,000+ applicants – I guess we’re doing something right!  Seriously, California has many talented young people filled of hope and enthusiasm for the future – let’s not let them down by closing the door on their dreams of a university education!

6. SDSU’s incredible faculty – they continue to bring accolades for their outstanding work and $150 million in research that has elevated SDSU to be among the top public research universities in the U.S.  On the downside, I have to go to work knowing I’ll never be the smartest person in the room!

5. Our students – they are why we are here!  A lot has been written about the current generation’s short-comings – don’t believe it.  From what I’ve seen, our future is in good hands. I’m especially impressed by the accomplishments of our student leaders in the areas of sustainability and social justice.

4. SDSU’s donors who have enriched SDSU with $280 million to The Campaign for SDSU. SDSU would be a far different place with their investments in our talented people, nationally ranked programs and beautiful facilities.  Thank you 280 million times!

3. Our hard-working staff – they look after our students, fix our computers, protect the campus and keep it looking amazing.  While the jobs vary, they share a belief in the power of a university to change lives.

2. My team – through their efforts, the MarComm team is helping transform the image of 114-year old university and engaging more people in powerful new ways.

1. My family – for putting up with the 3 a.m. phone calls (which are never good) and generally supporting me through all the adventures that come with the job.  It helps that my wife Lucita is an Aztec alumna!

I’m tempted to add that I’m thankful for the delicious cookies baked by Aztec Shops – which have got me through many long meetings.  Instead, I’ll close by thanking our troops for keeping our country safe and allowing us all to live our lives in freedom.  Peace to all!

Jack Beresford is Chief Communications Officer at San Diego State University

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Filed under Admissions, Alumni, Athletics, College Community, Greater Good, New Media, Prospective Students, Students, University News

Becoming a working mom


You may have heard that we recently had a baby boom in our division. Three new babies in one year, and one of them is mine!

Before baby, I was a notorious work-a-holic.  Checking email day and night, staying late, the epitome of someone who loves their job but doesn’t know how to “switch it off.”

It took the whole three months away on maternity leave to finally shake the old me and bring me face to face with the new me: a working mom.

As media relations manager, I am still on-the-job around the clock so to speak, but instead of checking my email before settling down to sleep,

Roman Jacobs

This little guy is the reason I have dropped my old "work-a-holic" habits.

I am prepping bottles, putting away toys and doing other things that were never before part of my daily routine.  Honestly, did I really spend that much time on my smart phone before the baby? (My husband says yes!)

Thankfully, my beautiful new son has really put things into perspective for me. I still love my job – how could I not working for my alma mater by helping to raise the prestige of our great university?  But as most working moms know – at the end of the day, the only thing I want to do is drive home and do the job that matters most – being the best mom I can be.

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