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San Diego State University Senior Receives 2020 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award

From the thousands of graduating seniors who have participated in Miracle Network Dance Marathon at the approximately 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, 25 students were selected to receive the 2020 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award for making an exceptional impact within their Dance Marathon program, on their individual campus and for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. To see all of this year’s recipients, click here

Hometown: Livermore, California

Degree(s): Bachelor of Science in Food Nutrition with a minor in Psychology

Dance Marathon Involvement: My involvement in Dance Marathon at San Diego State University in 2018 when I participated in my first Dance Marathon as a dancer. I knew it would be a fun event, but little did I know that it would change the trajectory of my life forever. I was so incredibly inspired by each of the families that shared their stories, the student leaders on the Executive Board, and by my peers that selflessly gave up a night’s sleep to dance the night away for kids and families that they may never meet. After the event, I knew I needed to make DM an important part of my life forever, and was fortunately granted a position on the DM at SDSU Finance Team for the 2018-2019 year and I couldn’t have been more excited to serve and make more miracles happen for the kids at Rady Children’s Hospital. In my role, I helped plan our special events that we had on campus and created templates for dancers to use to reach out to donors. At DM 2019, I had a realization that I wanted to do even more within this next year for this movement, which is the moment I decided I wanted to apply to become Executive Director of Dance Marathon at SDSU. I was so honored to be selected and serve as Executive Director of Dance Marathon at SDSU for the 2019-2020 year and lead the movement of one generation fighting for the next here at SDSU, and the largest Dance Marathon program in the West Area.

Campus/Community Involvement: SDSU Ambassadors; Rotaract of SDSU: a member of the collegiate chapter of Rotary Club 33 in San Diego, participating in community service events while networking with professionals in various different fields; Gamma Phi Beta Sorority: served as a Standards representative, Dance Chairwoman, Ritual Chairwoman, and New Member Educator for my chapter; Student Nutrition Organization; Associated Students Judicial Affairs Council; Peer Health Educator through SDSU Well-Being and Health Promotion; Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society

Awards/Recognition: College of Health and Human Services Dean’s List (7 semesters and 3 summer terms); SDSU Alumni Legacy Scholarship; Gamma Phi Beta Member of the Month; Conrad Prebys Student Leader Endowed Scholarship; Pedrozzi Foundation Scholarship; Conrad Prebys Student Leader Endowed Scholarship; Dance Marathon at SDSU Awards: Miracle Network Dance Marathon Campaign Activation Award

Post-Graduation Plans: Post-graduation, I am planning on entering a Dietetic Internship emphasizing in Clinical Pediatric Medical Nutrition Therapy. I have applied for programs and I hear back on April 5th on where I am accepted. My number one choice program is through the Medical University of South Carolina, where I would be learning, working, and completing my rotations at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, which is the newest Children’s Miracle Network Hospital that just opened February 22, 2020! After the completion of the 10-month internship, I will be eligible to take my Registered Dietitian exam and once I pass, I will be able to work as a Registered Dietitian. Within my time in Dance Marathon and working so closely to Rady Children’s Hospital here in San Diego, the CEO of Rady Children’s, Dr. Patrick Frias, offered me a job as a Registered Dietitian as soon as I pass my exam, so ultimately, I will be ending up back at the hospital that inspired my passion for fighting for children’s health. Being “For The Kids” is such an important part of who I am, and knowing that I will get to live out a new meaning of “For The Kids” through nutrition therapy and get to start my career at a CMN Hospital is a dream come true.

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

I look back on my childhood with nothing but fond memories. Knowing that kids get robbed of their opportunity to grow, play, and learn due to a childhood illness is incredibly unfair. It is unfair to the child, parents, siblings, friends, and unfair to the people who did not have the opportunity to be impacted by the child because the childhood illness had other plans. Dance Marathon changes kid’s health and gives students a way to advocate and fight for new technologies and treatments that will lead to future cures so that one day, there are no more sick kids. Dance Marathon provides services to kids and families at the hospitals to take their minds off of their situation and lets them escape their harsh reality. These reasons are why I dance. I dance for my friend Robert, who was greeted by Cold Play during one of his treatments. He would not have had that experience if it were not for funds that Dance Marathon raises. I dance for Gideon, our Rady Rockstar who is currently kicking leukemia’s butt for the 2nd time, all before his 10th birthday. I dance for Madi, DM at SDSU’s angel who lost her life at age 14 after her 3rd battle with cancer. I dance for all the kiddos who I have yet to meet, but I know they are worth fighting for.

How has Dance Marathon impacted you as a student leader? What specific skills have you developed during your involvement?

Dance Marathon has impacted me as a student leader in countless ways that have strengthened my ability to lead and make a difference in the communities around me. This movement has instilled a faith in me that my generation has the capability of changing lives, which has motivated me to inspire students to see this same faith within themselves within my different roles as a student leader. Dance Marathon has impacted how I look at tough situations and how I face challenges in my life. When I face adversity in my life, I think about the kids and families that I have met through Dance Marathon and know that if they can come out of their struggles strong, I can too. This mindset has helped me be able to bring light into stressful times within organizations that I am apart of. Dance Marathon has made me a more empathetic student leader, as this movement has taught me how important it is to show more grace and love and appreciate those around you. Specific skills that I have developed through my involvement in Dance Marathon include time management skills, confidence in public speaking, organization, adequacy in conveying a message in an effective way, and efficient communication within a team to help accomplish goals.

What personal accomplishment/contribution are you most proud of from your involvement in Dance Marathon?

My proudest personal accomplishment in Dance Marathon has to be the successful use of getting others involved with Dance Marathon. During Dance Marathon in 2018, I was on the Gamma Phi Beta where, as a team, we raised $8,639.00. The next year, I served on Finance Team DM Executive Board, but also served on the GPhi Executive Board as New Member Educator where I was in charge of the 90 new members. During the weekly meetings with my new members, I would share Dance Marathon stories, videos of the event, or news about Dance Marathon and how they could get involved. At Dance Marathon 2019, Gamma Phi Beta became the highest fundraising team besides the Dance Marathon Executive Board, raising $22,130.68. Most of the team were my new members. Knowing that I empowered my new members to make a difference me very proud. My proudest accomplishments in my roles in the Dance Marathon Executive Board include leading our two most successful push days, creating a new partnership with SDSU Athletics where we were able to raise $4,000 at 6 different SDSU Athletics event, seeing the most people stay for the entirety of the DM 2020 and lastly, I am proud of my Dance Marathon 2020 Executive Board for every single member hitting comma club!

Why should students get involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus?

Students should get involved with the Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus because the organization will give you the chance to give back to the local community, and the event will change their perspective on their lives. I believe that as college students, it is so easy to get consumed in our own personal lives as college is a time full of challenges and self-discovery, but Dance Marathon gives students an opportunity to show students that they are capable of making a difference in people’s lives. It goes beyond just making a difference in people’s lives, but students are essentially giving families the hope that one day, their child will be able to be a college student too and have all the opportunities that we as students have. Giving students the perspective that we have what kids and families at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals strive to have one day allows students to reflect on the blessings and opportunities that they have, and therefore participate and fundraise for their CMN Hospital. The event itself is life-altering as students see directly how their selfless acts affect the kids and families of the local CMN Hospital. Hearing a mother, father, sibling, or even patient themselves share their story and say “Thank You” puts so much in perspective to the students in the room. Knowing that money that you spent time and energy raising is going towards bettering the lives of people that have gone through the unimaginable makes students want to fight harder and do more because there are so many people out there that are so undeserving of the cards that they have been dealt in life, but the funds raised can help these kids and families sleep a little easier at night, which makes everything worth it. Plus, the Dance Marathon event itself is SO fun. You really can’t go wrong with dancing, food, prizes, entertainment, and friends around you. When you add giving back to kids and families of CMN Hospitals in the mix, it does not get better than that!

Why should people donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals?

People should donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital for one simple reason: all kids deserve to have a childhood. All kids deserve to go to a middle school dance, get their driver’s license, have sleepovers with friends, and find a passion that they love. Unfortunately, all kids do not get that chance, but with donations, we can give these kids and families the hope that one day they will get all the opportunities that they deserve. People should donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital because this isn’t just a cause you give to, its people giving to people. Every dollar directly impacts kids and their families who are going through the unimaginable by helping fund programs like music and art therapy, special events with therapy dogs, collaborations with celebrities and local organizations to put on entertainment acts in the hospital, all while also funding technology and medical research to fight childhood illnesses. Most people grow up happy and healthy without having to worry about what their tomorrow will look like, and this is why people should donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital so that others do not have to worry about what their tomorrow is going to look like too.

Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 400 colleges, universities and K-12 schools across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. These students work tirelessly throughout the year to raise funds one dollar at a time by making the ask to family and friends. Their hard work culminates in a 6-40 hour celebration on their campus, where participants have the opportunity to rally together as a community for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Students involved in Dance Marathon gain valuable skills in fundraising, peer management, delegation and philanthropy. Miracle Network Dance Marathon programs have collectively raised more than $300 million since 1991.

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