CSU Voices and Views

Supporting SDSU from Beginning to End

By Kathy Brown
Associate Director of Buying, SDSU Bookstore
Aztec Shops, San Diego State University

The SDSU Bookstore staff

The SDSU Bookstore staff.
(left to right) Ambre Dorsett, Laura White, Kathy Brown, Meghan Smith, Nancy Stevens, Kelly Morlock, Ben Compton

Commencement season is here! As seniors prepare for graduation and underclassmen wrap up their spring semester classes, my staff and I at The SDSU Bookstore are eager to assist with everyone’s end of the school year needs. Commencement season may be one of the busiest times of the year at San Diego State University, but in the heart of the chaos, the bookstore remains the rock of the campus.

Many people think of the campus bookstore as just that – a store on campus that sells and rents books. While that may be the core of its existence, The SDSU Bookstore takes pride in serving the entire campus community on various needs throughout the school year, including graduation.

The SDSU Bookstore kicks off commencement season by producing the huge GradFest event on campus in late March. GradFest is a one stop shop for all graduation needs; students can purchase their tickets to the ceremony, buy and take professional pictures in their graduation regalia, order their announcements, get frames for diplomas, get class rings, order flowers, and shop for alumni apparel and accessories – all in a festive and celebratory environment. Videos of prior year’s commencement ceremonies play on two large screens, as well as taped congratulatory messages from Dr. Elliot Hirshman, SDSU president, and Kevin Faulconer, Mayor of San Diego and SDSU alumnus. Over 70% of the graduating class attends the event and we’re proud to have been the first campus in the nation to have a GradFest, beginning in 1995.

While commencement season is a focus of ours at the moment, supporting educational success is a year-round responsibility for The SDSU Bookstore and its staff. This past year, we partnered with The Zahn Innovation Center, a commercial and social incubator that supports SDSU innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs—students, faculty and staff from any major or department on campus—as they transform their ideas into companies. As buying professionals, a colleague and I met with each of the aspiring entrepreneurs and had them pitch their products to us. We offered them feedback and set up a page on shopaztecs.com for the entrepreneurs to sell their products.

The SDSU Bookstore does its best to provide students with ease of access to products and services. The bookstore has all required course materials available with plenty of low-cost options through digital and rental programs. Our online textbook ordering site, EZ Books, allows students to conveniently select course materials and opt for pick up or delivery on or off-campus. Our branded Aztecnology area within the store provides the campus with all computer and accessory needs, including refilling ink cartridges through our partnership with Ink Jet Solutions. We also house a Verizon store, a Nike concept shop and a fashion apparel and jewelry section within our bookstore walls.  Additionally, we lease out a separate location to Blick Art Materials which serves our art students.

Our staff at The SDSU Bookstore are big promoters of campus pride, extending beyond the selling of school apparel and accessories.  We conceived of, with an assist from our Associated Students President, the Leave Your Legacy Campaign and strongly supported the Alumni Association in the development of the program.  Leave Your Legacy enables graduating students to donate money for scholarships awarded to future Aztecs. Donors will wear a distinct red and white twisted cord with their graduation regalia and will be asked to stand to be acknowledged during the ceremonies. This rewarding experience encourages a personal lifelong connection to students and their university. Nearly 1,400 students have given to the campaign since GradFest 2015.

The SDSU Bookstore is part of the not-for-profit Aztec Shops suite of campus business services and primarily functions as an auxiliary of SDSU. Each year we give back our net proceeds to the campus to support student programs. From the first day of the semester to the graduation ceremonies, our staff at The SDSU Bookstore work hard to ensure that students, staff and faculty are efficiently provided with the goods and services they need in order to accomplish their academic and department goals.

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