Aztec Aquaplex
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ARC Employees

Employee of the Month

Max Maller

Max Maller 
Sailing Program Assistant, Mission Bay Aquatic Center

Aztec Recreation would like to recognize Max Maller, Sailing Program Assistant at Mission Bay Aquatic Center, as our July Employee of the Month! Max has been involved with the Mission Bay Aquatic Center for over 10 years, first starting as a camper and progressively becoming more and more involved. He steadily rose from a camper to a Counselor in Training (CIT), to eventually becoming hired as a camp counselor before joining the sailing department and becoming the program assistant. From the words of his supervisor, Paul Lang, “Max’s hard work and drive to improve our sailing program has positively impacted a lot of our staff as well as our students, and he is greatly appreciated at MBAC.”

When talking about his experience working at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center, Max describes how great his job is and the amazing the people he gets to be around every day. He appreciates how friendly and helpful all his supervisors are, making it enjoyable to come to work every day. Max’s average day is very rewarding because although it includes some office hours, he is still able to get out, check on other instructors and help them or even step in to teach a class, which he really enjoys doing.

Max describes the most valuable skill learned from his time working at Mission Bay Aquatic Center as the ability to present in front of people. When he first starting working here, he was very uncomfortable talking in front of groups of people, and he especially had a hard time sounding confident even if he knew what he was saying. Now he has confidence to address any group of people without hesitation. When assigned to oversee an event with one-hundred and twenty naval officers he was comfortable leading the group through all of the activities as the main instructor. He attributes his confidence to the experience he has been able to gain working at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center.

Max has become a vital part of the Mission Bay Aquatic Center staff and does a great job making sure all the sailing instructors work balanced schedules and are able to teach many different topics of sailing. His supervisor also adds that Max “treats his co-workers and our students with the highest level or respect and always makes time to talk to customers who have questions about our program.” 

Max is a fourth-year economics major and plans on moving on from the Mission Bay Aquatic Center after he graduates to find a full-time job where he will be able to use what he has learned in school as well as apply the skills he has learned from working at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center. Max likes to live by a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that states, “Far and away the best prize life has to offer is to work hard at work worth doing.” He explains that working for Mission Bay Aquatic Center has been extremely rewarding because every day he comes to work, he feels that it is indeed work worth doing.


June 2018 - Dan Schmitz Aquaplex Member Services Representative

Dan Schmitz

Dan Schmitz
Aquaplex Member Services Representative

To kick off the summer, we would like to recognize Dan Schmitz, Aquaplex Member Services Representative as our June Employee of the Month! According to Aquaplex Manager, Jake Siegfried, “Dan strives for excellence in everything he does and with almost three years of experience at the front desk, he is a tremendous asset to us here at the Aquaplex.”

During the summer prior to starting at SDSU, Dan visited the ARC and a student employee toured him through the Aztec Recreation Center. That tour guide made him very excited to come to SDSU and now Schmitz thinks about that experience every time he gives a tour of the Aquaplex. In every customer service interaction, Dan’s goal is to make people feel they have a personal connection to the Aquaplex and to SDSU.

When Schmitz started at SDSU and saw that Aztec Recreation was hiring, he applied straight away and got the job one month into his freshman year. He says that working for Aztec Recreation is one of his best things about his freshman year. He started with a large cohort group of student employees and now they are some of his close friends. He says, “There is an unspoken bond among coworkers. Working at the Aquaplex is a break from school and a chance to shift gears and focus on something enjoyable.”

Dan is the kind of person everyone wants as a coworker! His motto this past semester was “I’LL DO IT.” He regularly picked-up shifts and covered for other student staff whether they had conflicts or just needed to study. As a result, he was the employee with the largest number of transactions during the Spring 2018 semester and, he adds that it was also his best semester academically. He says that the more he applies himself, the greater his productivity.

Schmitz says that his job is all about the positive attitude and the work is “Simple, not easy.” Which is how he describes his path to success. Dan’s focus now is continuously recognizing and recommending small improvements to the administrative operation of the Aquaplex and he is mentoring new Aquaplex staff.

Dan is a fourth-year marketing major with a minor in graphic design and he has a passion for astral photography and digital art. As a man of many talents, his goal is to become an Air Liaison Officer in the Air Force. It’s a future that will enable him to apply his initiative, professionalism and people skills.


May 2018 - Bradley Mills Climbing Wall Lead Aztec Adventures

Bradley Mills

Bradley Mills
Climbing Wall Lead Aztec Adventures

IMAGE: Bradley Mills (center) with Tom and Virginia McCarron

Happy May, Aztecs! As we gear up to take on finals, we first wanted to congratulate our May Employee of the Month, Bradley Mills! Bradley is a Climbing Wall Lead and a fourth year student here at San Diego State studying History with a minor in Recreation and Tourism Management. Bradley’s goal is to pursue a career in the outdoors and he has found that working for Aztec Adventures has given him valuable leadership and management skills that he could use in any field.

Bradley got involved with Aztec Recreation his freshman year when he took a rock climbing ENS class. As he became more comfortable with climbing he decided to head out on his first Aztec Adventures field trip, and he was hooked! Bradley started working as a Climbing Wall Attendant at the ARC Wall right after that trip and this month he is celebrating his two year work anniversary! Mills reports that the Aztec Adventure student leaders who supervised him as a freshman, changed his life and now, having worked his way up to Climbing Wall Lead, Bradley is happy that he can do the same for others.

When describing his work, Bradley’s love and passion for adventure is obvious, and he feels extremely lucky to get paid for doing what he loves. His favorite aspect of the job, however, is not necessarily the trips outdoors but the people he meets on the outings or at the Rock Wall. Mills details the comradery around campfires on Aztec Adventure outings, where students from all walks-of-life can share a little of their story. Since working for Aztec Recreation, Mills expresses that he has become a better worker through his exposure to so many different people of different cultures and lifestyles that he has learned how to work with any person in just about any situation. Working with the outdoors is not always as easy as it may seem and Bradley is well known for thinking on his feet in tougher situations. His supervisor, Ben Ramaeker, commends Bradley for his, “maturity and adaptability, regardless of the circumstance.”

Bradley’s motto for his job and life in general, is a John Muir quote that says, “The Mountains are calling, and I must go”. Here at Aztec Recreation, we are so lucky to have employees like Bradley that are so passionate about their work. Congratulations Bradley,and thank you for your dedication to Aztec Recreation and the great outdoors.

Additionally, Bradley was recently presented with the annual McCarron Exemplary Service Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to an Associated Students employee who demonstrates the service ideals of an A.S. employee and member of the SDSU community. Congratulations Bradley, and thank you for your dedication to Associated Students, Aztec Recreation and the great outdoors.


April 2018 - Michael Fox Building Services Assistant

Michael Fox

Michael Fox
Building Services Assistant

We are starting this month by announcing an outstanding employee, Michael Fox! Michael is a current junior here at SDSU majoring in electrical engineering and has been with Aztec Recreation for just over two years. He started working for Aztec Recreation member services as a freshman just looking for a fun on-campus job. When an opportunity opened up in the building services department, Michael jumped on it. As an engineering student, it’s a perfect match for Michael’s ability to troubleshoot and repair just about anything in the ARC.

His supervisor, Rahfeal Alomar, describes Michael as a dedicated and reliable hard worker. Regardless of the task at hand, Michael consistently demonstrates professionalism, timeliness, and quality. Michael is known for his openness and willingness to assist all Aztec Recreation staff in any situation, helping anywhere that he can. His favorite thing about his job is that every day and every project is different and that each shift includes learning new things that help make the ARC a better place.

Looking back on his time here at Aztec Recreation, Michael fondly refers back to the memories made here with his co-workers and friends, whether it be in the office or at holiday parties, he truly loves getting to work alongside his peers delivering excellence to the members, his fellow students. When asked about advice for others interested in Building Services Assistant, Michael suggests two things: be on time and get your work done. This work ethic is inspired by his dad who says, "If you want a job done right, do it yourself".

Once again, congratulations Michael! Aztec Recreation is thankful for all you do.


March 2018 - Natasha Ramirez Member Services Representative

Natasha Ramirez

Natasha Ramirez
Member Services Representative

Hey Aztecs! We would love to introduce and congratulate our March Employee of the Month, Natasha Ramirez! Natasha found Aztec Recreation after she moved from all the way from the East coast to San Diego, and before she was an employee, Natasha was an Aztec Recreation member! Prior to her big move, she worked at another gym in customer service, so she figured she would apply to work as an Aztec Recreation Member Services Representative.

A year and a half later, Natasha has made a huge impact in our company with her positive attitude and hard work. Her supervisor, Katie Nelli, notes that Ramirez is a "self-starter" that is highly respected amongst her coworkers as they look up to her as a leader in terms of her amazing customer service skills and organized work ethic. When asked about any advice she had to give, Natasha recommends that after every shift, ask yourself if that was the best you could have done, and take that self-criticism and motivate you to be an even better employee every shift. In fact, three words sum up what she tries to live by, in and out of the office-Integrity, Motivation, and Professionalism.

In her time as a Membership Service Representative, Ramirez has enjoyed the friendly, fun atmosphere and work environment and the organization and professionalism of Aztec Recreation. Natasha loves getting to know our members, and enjoys the fact that she is a part of their workout routine. Her favorite thing about her job is knowing that our members recognize and appreciate her, and she does the same for them.

Once again, congratulations and thank you Natasha for everything you do for Aztec Recreation!


February 2018 - Erick Dietz Competitive Sports Office Assistant

Erick Dietz

Erick Dietz
Competitive Sports Office Assistant

Hi Aztecs! We would love to start February off with introducing our Employee of the Month, Erick Dietz! Erick is a senior here at SDSU who has been with Aztec Recreation for three years and currently works as an office assistant for the Competitive Sports department. You might recognize him, as he is also an intramural sports referee! As a freshman, Erick was just looking for an on-campus job to make some extra money, however he had no idea this job would be a three-year long commitment, or even inspire him towards a future career. Dietz is a Physics major, however after graduating he has hopes to work as a grad assistant for a collegiate intramural program.

In his three years at Aztec Recreation, Erick has loved his job. The flexible hours and proximity to campus has given him the ability to not only succeed at his job, but in school too. An average workday for Erick includes running the Competitive Sports office, responding back to players and teams, and making sure the supervisors are stocked with the needed paperwork for their day. Some of his favorite days though are those when he gets to go back to his roots as a referee and judge the intramural games. Some of his favorite memories working for Aztec Recreation include reffing the Greek intramural flag football games because the games are always high-intensity and high energy, and packed with supporters. This last intramural season, Dietz had the responsibility for refereeing the Greek championship game between Sigma Phi Epsilon and Theta Chi, yet another fun and memorable game to his three-year long reffing career.

As for advice to be successful as an office assistant or a referee, Dietz recommends being punctual, giving full effort, and being headstrong and confident in your decisions. These skills are acquired through time, but he also suggests that you can never go wrong with being friendly and having fun in whatever you do; a quote Erick believes that "time moves on no matter what you are doing, so you might as well have fun". His supervisors, Parker Anderson and DeJuan Bedford, note Erick’s outstanding work ethic, saying that he shows "sustained professionalism on every shift and maintains a level of excellence on the fields and in his office work". They also recognize Erick as a leader, and that many of his colleagues look up to him for guidance and as an example.

Congrats Erick on being Employee of the Month, thanks for everything you do--whether it be in the office or on the field!


January 2018 - Heidi Sarmiento Wilson Instructor

Heidi Sarmiento Wilson

Heidi Sarmiento Wilson

To kick off the New Year, Aztec Recreation would love to introduce our January Employee of the Month, Heidi Sarmiento Wilson. Heidi is an SDSU alum, and her first experience working for Aztec Recreation was while she was an undergrad in 1992 as a fitness instructor while getting her first degree. Fast forward several years and three degrees later, when she returned to Aztec Rec last September as a martial arts, kickboxing, and self-defense instructor. Welcome back, Heidi!

On the Daily, Heidi enjoys seeing all of her students. She loves what she teaches and is all about health and wellness--this is fitting because Heidi has three degrees from San Diego State including her Bachelors in Nutrition, an MS in Nutritional Sciences as well as a Master’s in Public Health! Her favorite part about her job is that her passion and hobbies have turned into her job! Looking back, Heidi’s favorite memory working for Aztec Rec has to be when she was able to teach a group of women from San Diego State’s very own Panhellenic community in fall 2017. Over 140 attended, and seeing these young women take the first small step in protecting themselves against harassment meant so much to Heidi and her students who assisted in teaching the class.

Heidi believes that the first step for success as a fitness instructor is to love what you do. They say if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life, and Heidi finds this true every time she in the classroom (which is usually a fitness or martial arts studio). Another thing Heidi finds important is making a personal connection with her students, “knowing your students’ names and understanding their “why”, regardless of the class size, keeps my students motivated to approach the class with a high level of intensity”.

Heidi’s favorite class to teach is self-defense, because as a victim of sexual assault she has seen what it can do to young people. In light of the tragedy, Heidi has an amazing outlook that she shares with her students and fellow victims of sexual assault, “I’ve seen myself transform from a victim, to a survivor, and today I’m a warrior.” She finds that in teaching people self-defense, she can see this same transition within her students. Heidi’s passion is one her best attributes as an employee, as her supervisor, Julie Hannan says, “Her love and dedication to the field of self-defense and for empowering women completely shined through in her interview…In the short time she has been back with us, the program for women’s self-defense has grown immensely. From teaching her regularly schedule ENS course to special events that Heidi has managed.”

Congratulations and thank you for everything you have done for Aztec Recreation and the San Diego State Community, Heidi!


December 2017 - Matthew Vale Overnight Member Services

Matthew Vale

Matthew Vale
Overnight Member Services

For the month of December, we are giving a big congratulations to our Employee of the Month, Matthew Vale! Matthew has worked for Aztec Recreation since May 2017, and in his time with the department, he has made a huge impact on the overnight member services team.

Since signing up for his membership freshman year, Matthew had always wanted to work at the ARC. When the opportunity arose for the overnight position, he jumped at the chance. Although the “overnight” might have scared some candidates away, his night-owl tendencies made Vale the perfect fit!

Matthew says the work environment at Aztec Recreation is very enjoyable. He loves working with people on their accounts if there is ever a problem because he finds it fun, like solving a puzzle. During his eight-hour shifts that go from 11pm to 7am, he enjoys deep cleaning to impress our early morning members. Matthew’s fondest memories at the ARC include getting to know the nighttime regulars. During the nightshift, things can be quiet, but the regulars that now know him by name make it especially fun. Vale finds it funny how people exercising at two or three in the morning are so happy, but the regulars brighten his night, and he is glad he can do the same for them with his positive attitude.

When it comes to working overnight at the ARC, Matthew has two pieces of advice: drink coffee and keep a positive mindset! Coffee, Vale says, helps to prevent him from hitting that inevitable wall in the middle of a shift and keeping a positive mindset at all times is the key to a successful shift. Matthew noted, “The interactions with members this time of night can be very personal and you do not want to give our members a cranky, half-asleep staff member. Positivity not only makes shifts go by quicker, but also makes the time at work much more enjoyable, whereas a negative mindset makes everything seem like a chore. But works wonders.”

According to his supervisor, Member Services Manager, Vicki Greene, Vale has excelled far beyond expectations because of his “will do” attitude. Greene says that he is “willing to lend a helping hand and always volunteers to complete the not- so-glamorous tasks”. Comments from other night shift employees include; “Matthew has a stellar attitude, he never complains” and “Shout-out to Matthew for stepping in when a co-worker fell ill”. Greene also notes, “Matthew consistently provides exceptional customer service to our members and demonstrates great internal customer service in how he works with peers and co-workers”.

Vale is a fourth year student at SDSU majoring in Kinesiology. He is thankful for his opportunity in Aztec Recreation, as it has helped him become more responsible, develop interpersonal skills, and create the mindset for working harder. He plans to use these skills in his professional career in competitive fields. He intends to become either a doctor of physical therapy or physical therapy assistant.


November 2017 - Connor Bass Aztec Adventures Outings Lead

Connor Bass

Connor Bass
Aztec Adventures Outings Lead

This month kudos goes to Connor Bass, Aztec Adventures Outings Lead. In his year and a half on the team, Connor has held two positions starting as a Climbing Wall Supervisor and now Outings Lead. 

Connor’s experience with Aztec Recreation started in the spring 2016 semester when he enrolled in an ENS Climbing Class. It was Connor’s introduction to rock climbing. As part of the class, he went on the Joshua Tree rock climbing outing and says he “fell in love with the program.” He remarks that the rock climbing community and the climbing staff were awesome and a few months later when an opportunity opened-up he applied to work at the climbing wall and started in June 2016.

During that first summer, working as a climbing wall supervisor, Connor helped to reset the wall and do a lot of maintenance including vacuuming behind the wall. That may sound simple but involves a large space and a lot of dust! He worked throughout the year with other climbing staff to regularly clean all the holds; the colorful attachments on the wall that create a climbing route, and to repair the spinners which are the nuts that hold the holds into the wall. Of course, the biggest and best part of the job for Connor was supervising the wall during drop in climbing hours, which Bass did during the 16-17 academic year. Then in the summer of 2017 he was promoted to Outings Lead. Once again, summer is the time when Aztec Adventures cleans, organizes and maintains their equipment, so his first task as Outings Lead was to reorganize the Aztec Adventures backshop. He says, “All in all I’ve put in a lot of sweat equity”.

As the Outings Lead he now manages the backshop, does vehicle maintenance of two vans and supervises other outings staff. In addition, Bass assists with administration, including participant rosters, maps and weather reports for the trips. He is teaching two ENS classes this semester: Camping & Outdoor Skills and Wilderness First Aid (WFA). According to Bass, WFA is important to those who adventure, “so people can know what to do in case their friend gets hurt in the backcountry”.

Ben Ramaeker, Outdoor Programs Coordinator says, “Connor takes immense pride in Aztec Adventures programming. He is dedicated to mentoring and teaching fellow staff and pays meticulous attention to the finer details associated with our outings. In addition, he demonstrates great patience ensuring our staff are confidently making decisions both in the office and backcountry settings.”

Connor excels at the administrative and detailed maintenance work as well as supervising other outdoor adventure staff, but he says his favorite part of the job is interacting with the participants. “Anytime I see people get stoked on the outdoors it makes me happy and that’s what makes me excited to come to work”, says Bass. He fondly recalls a trip he led to Yosemite in May 2017 when the group bonded “Everyone got along great right off the bat,” says Bass, “The group had great jokes all weekend and it was awesome.”

Connor lives his passion for outdoors. While on vacation last summer, he participated in NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). The training involved living on a glacier in the North Cascade Mountain Range in Washington. Bass says, “We were living in the snow, I almost got struck by lightning and successfully scared off a bear”. He adds that when it comes to doing what you love, “Go above and beyond. It pays off”.

Bass is an Environmental Science major at SDSU and he plans to pursue a career in the outdoor recreation industry listing campus rec, guiding, instructing, or addiction therapy as possible career pursuits. His inspirational quote is from American author Carlos Castañeda, “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”


October 2017 - Kwan Carter Competitive Sports Official, Supervisor and Office Assistant

Kwan Carter

Kwan Carter
Competitive Sports Official, Supervisor and Office Assistant

Congratulations are in order for our October Employee of the Month Kwan Carter! As an official, a supervisor and an office assistant for Aztec Recreation competitive sports programs, Kwan is an invaluable resource to the department. Self-described as a “spontaneous, charismatic character,” Kwan’s optimism and enthusiasm is contagious with everyone he encounters — both in the office and at sports games. His favorite part of his job? Having a good time with our competitive sports participants. 

“It’s just a super friendly environment and I think that’s just what Aztec Recreation is,” says Kwan.

Since he started working for the competitive sports program in fall 2015, Kwan has really gotten to know the participants. Whether members are playing flag football, basketball or any multitude of sports — Kwan’s charisma, upbeat attitude and competitive sports expertise helps set the stage for participants to have a great time.

“We like to joke around a lot and it’s fun because when the participants are having fun, the staff gets to have fun,” Kwan said. “It makes the entire experience rewarding.”

With over two years of experience, Kwan has gained a comprehensive understanding of his program’s behind-the-scenes and frontline work. The specific skills that each of Kwan’s positions demand are what makes his role truly special. He is assertive as an official, supportive in assisting with online administration and a key resource for other officials on the team. Kwan has tackled each position with excellence, positivity and a good sense of humor.

“He always performs his job with the utmost respect for his colleagues and he’s an outstanding representative of our program,” said Parker Anderson, competitive sports supervisor. “Kwan continues to grow with our program and I think his potential is endless.”

At Aztec Recreation, we’re so proud of your leadership and hard work, Kwan. Thank you for always bringing a smile and infusing positivity into everything you do. With your ambition and optimism, we know that there’s only good things to come — congratulations!

Article by: Madeline Balicoco


September 2017 - Allie Jackson Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor

Allie Jackson

Allie Jackson
Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor

Get ready to dive in — congratulations are in order for our September Employee of the Month Allie Jackson, a lifeguard and water safety instructor at the Aztec Aquaplex! Allie’s patience, positive attitude and genuine passion for water safety truly shine through in her role at the Aztec Aquaplex. Every day she ensures our swimmers are safe and enjoy their time in our pools.

Water safety is the highest priority in Allie’s duties. When she’s on duty as a lifeguard, she keeps close watch on participants and helps swimmers become knowledgeable about rules that keep them safe. As a water safety instructor, Allie takes on a more personal approach to teach her students how to swim safely and confidently. According to Aquaplex Coordinator Marcos Ordaz, Allie’s unfaltering enthusiasm and encouragement greatly assists her students’ journeys into the water.

"Allie consistently receives a five out of five rating on her group lessons and is continuously requested as an instructor from returning students," Marcos said. "She goes above and beyond and is even willing to take on as many lessons as possible."

From small tots to adolescents and adults, Allie’s enthusiastic and calming approach helps her students overcome their fears and grow to love swimming. Her patience, understanding and steady encouragement are the perfect recipe for instilling confidence in her students.

"Half of it is teaching them how to swim and the other half is getting them to see the joy of being in the water and trying something new," Allie said. "Getting adults to swim is really exciting because they have that fear that’s kept them away from the water for so long."

Whenever her students venture out of their comfort zones, Allie’s supportive communication guides their personal growth of feeling empowered and safe in the water. Whether she’s supervising swimmers or encouraging her students, Allie’s passion for water safety creates a ripple of positive impact.

It’s even splashed into a team outside the Aztec Aquaplex. In 2016-2017, Allie served as the president of the SDSU Women’s Water Polo Sport Club team. This successful team represented SDSU at their national championship and went on to place third.

Aztec Recreation and the Aztec Aquaplex staff are proud of the sincere and meaningful impact you have on everyone you encounter, Allie. Thank you for ensuring our members are safe swimmers and helping some of them overcome their fear of the water. Congratulations on this well-deserved accomplishment!

Article by: Madeline Balicoco


August 2017 - Alexa D’Orazio Group Fitness Instructor

Alexa D’Orazio

Alexa D’Orazio
Group Fitness Instructor

This month, we’re excited to congratulate Group Fitness Instructor Alexa D’Orazio as our August employee of the month! Alexa’s passion for teaching and yoga shines through the classes she instructs, Deep Stretch Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga. According to Aztec Recreation’s Fitness and Wellness Coordinator Julie Hannan, Alexa strives to be her best self in every class she teaches and always checks in with her students.

“Between staying late to discuss yoga and nutrition with members after class to her preparedness and genuine passion for sharing her love of yoga and health with others, Alexa sets the bar for excellence in maintaining her position as a role model for others in her words and actions,” Julie said. “She deserves this recognition for her unwavering commitment and excellence.”

Alexa started teaching at Aztec Recreation in October 2013 and she continues to invent and instruct creative yoga classes that engage our members. She is genuinely passionate about teaching and dedicated to helping her students. “What motivates me every day is that I literally love teaching,” she said. “When I wake up and I know that I’m teaching that day, I’m just over the moon.”

According to Alexa, her favorite part about teaching is the feedback and progress of her students. “I love seeing them flourish – whether it’s their first class or their third class,” she said. “I want to make my students feel welcome and that the studio is really their space and not mine.”

Alexa’s classes give our members the opportunity to reduce stress, practice mindfulness and improve their flexibility and focus. Her enthusiasm and encouragement create an inviting environment for our members to learn and enjoy deep stretch and vinyasa yoga. She goes above and beyond by connecting with her students, before and after classes, and ensuring they continue to improve.

Additionally, Alexa translates her personal experience, understanding and love for yoga through her classes. “I used to be a very fast-paced person, but yoga has really helped me slow down and focus,” she said. “Now when I’m teaching yoga, I love seeing what it’s done for me in others. I’ve experienced what it’s like to grow and progress, so I know what my students are going through when they’re learning.”

Alexa’s thoughtfulness, care and love for teaching are what make her a truly excellent instructor. Her passion for teaching actively shines through her classes and her students. Above all, her positive guidance encourages many of our members to improve their yoga skills and fully understand their practice. At Aztec Recreation, we’re so proud of your hard work and dedication to our members, Alexa – congratulations!

Instagram handle: @yogabyalexa
Facebook: Alexa D’Orazio

Article by: Gregory F. Royse II


July 2017 - Ciara Boyd Aztec Aquaplex Facilities Representative

Ciara Boyd

Ciara Boyd
Aztec Aquaplex Facilities Representative

This month, we are happy to congratulate Aztec Aquaplex Facilities Representative Ciara Boyd on becoming our July employee of the month! At SDSU, Ciara majors in Kinesiology: Pre-Physical Therapy and minors in psychology and she was attracted to working for Aztec Recreation in fall 2015 to work with like-minded students.

To this day, Ciara continues to display an excellent work ethic and serve as a source of valuable information not only for members, but for her co-workers as well. According to her supervisor, Marcos Ordaz,”Ciara connects with members and participants on a personal level.” This level of customer attention shows in her consistent outstanding secret shops. Every month, secret shoppers go to Aztec Recreation program areas and ask employees a variety of questions. Then, the shoppers complete a report about the experience and grade the staff member on a scale of one, indicating the lowest satisfaction, to five, indicating the highest satisfaction. Ciara has been shopped twice and received an overall top score both times, excelling at answering members’ questions and providing superb customer service!

Ciara is also a champion of helping other Aquaplex staff. According to Ordaz, “Ciara voluntarily serves as a mentor to all by offering her expertise and knowledge to her fellow coworkers. As a veteran employee, she has helped guide her fellow coworkers through a variety of complex membership processes ensuring that they are equally successful. Ciara has also served as a designated mentor to newly hired employees.”

There is no ordinary day for Ciara because she is continuously searching for interesting projects and ways in which she can learn more, contribute more, and develop her skills. Her most recent skill update is teaching youth swim lessons. “At the Aquaplex, we’re like a little family,” Ciara said. “When my co-workers learned that I wanted to get in the water, they taught me how to get more technical with my swimming and how to master all the strokes.” After training for months, Ciara is now teaching Level I lessons. In the level one swim class, Ciara helps kids ages 5 to 7 get comfortable in the water and teaches her students different swimming techniques such as front and back floats, freestyle, front crawl, scissor kicks and back stroke.

“I love my job, I love my co-workers and I love my boss,” Ciara said. “I’m so glad I’ve had the experience to work with someone who genuinely believes in each and every person.”

Ciara’s favorite quote is from Dr. Seuss:

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”

Aztec Recreation and the Aztec Aquaplex family truly believe there is no one who is you-er than you, Ciara. We and appreciate your dedication and hard work.

Article by: Gregory F. Royse II


June 2017 - Krystal Hernandez Building Services Assistant

Krystal Hernandez

Krystal Hernandez
Building Services Assistant

Congratulations to Building Services Assistant, Krystal Hernandez the June employee of the month. Krystal started a year ago and according to Building Services Coordinator, Rahfeal Alomar, she has become a valuable employee who acts as a leader, is creative in problem solving and takes great pride in her work. You will find Krystal repairing machines, completing preventative maintenance, responding to members and assisting Aztec Recreation staff in a variety of day-to-day building repair situations. Alomar says, “Krystal is very dependable and works efficiently without a lot of supervision.”

It seems Krystal fears nothing. Her accomplishments include repairing plumbing fixtures, light fixtures and floor tile. She helped to build a 15-foot scaffold and replaces racquetball light bulbs. The job is a perfect fit for Krystal, who is a senior in mechanical engineering at SDSU. She does not mind getting her hands dirty and she is not intimidated. In fact, she finds the work is a lot of fun! She adds that the professional building services staff are very motivating because they are fun, patient and knowledgeable.

Krystal’s favorite memory of the job thus far has been the successful outcome of a major team troubleshooting. Four building services students, under the supervision of Equipment Mechanic, Mack Posey, worked overnight from 10pm to 6am to solve a TV reception issue on the cardio equipment. The system had a lot of static and they were able to determine that the problem was from a frequency disturbance caused, in part, by the position of a receptor. They made changes and resolved the problem, which was very satisfying to the whole team!

Krystal’s philosophy is to take initiative. She says, “This job has given me a confidence to try new things and I have learned to do things hands on. When approaching something new I continue to get better troubleshooting skills.” Her belief stems from her confidence and fearlessness as she learns from her successes and failures and says, “Even if you make a mistake you can learn from it.”

Krystal’s favorite quote is from an original TV star, Milton Berle, "If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door."

Krystal says that she is highly motivated by Aztec Recreation members and she knows that her work helps better people’s lives. She is also a family-focused person; as the oldest of six kids, she says she likes to spend time with her five little brothers and sisters and she puts effort into being a good role model for them.

Congratulations, Krystal, we think you are a great role model to a lot of people including your coworkers and your family! 

Facebook krystalmhdz

Article by: Gregory F. Royse II


May 2017 - Caleb Adkins Climbing Lead, Aztec Adventures


Caleb Adkins
Climbing Lead, Aztec Adventures

This month we are happy to congratulate Caleb Adkins on becoming Aztec Recreation’s employee of the month! Caleb was first introduced to Aztec Recreation when he signed up for the Introduction to Rock Climbing ENS Credit Class his first semester at State. He went on to then take the intermediate class because Caleb really took a “lichen” to climbing. These programs fostered a passion for him and he knew the best way to continue developing as a climber was to teach new people to climb. So when a job opened up with Aztec Adventures in December 2014, Caleb was instantly drawn to it and has been working for Aztec Adventures ever since.

Ben Ramaeker, the Outdoor Programs Coordinator says, “Caleb is a hard-working individual who dedicates his efforts to developing quality programs at our ARC Wall. He has implemented a comprehensive on-board training curriculum for new hires and he has organized our ENS Climbing Course curriculum with a step-by-step guide to instructing weekly lessons. Caleb has a good understanding of the direction and vision for Aztec Adventures and is always looking at ways that our climbing programs can reach more individuals introducing them to the sport/ physical activity of rock climbing.”

Caleb has a passion for nature and the outdoors - Rocks in particular! And I mean he loves Rocks! As a Geology Major, Caleb not only loves to climb on Rocks but loves to study them as well! He also plays guitar in a punk Rock band called the Wanted Noise, which is pretty “gneiss”! We can say that Caleb’s life Rocks literally and figuratively. As a Geology Major, Caleb sees climbing as integral to his life purpose. He recognizes that his ability to climb to astounding features of interest furthers his ability to study the earth. One of his favorite quotes is from Raul Robbins; “The more we count our blessings the more we seem to have”. This quote relates to how Caleb lives life to its fullest and takes nothing for “granite”!

Caleb will be graduating this semester and moving on to pursue his career in Geology. He has worked hard, dealt with the pressure to graduate and all that college life has to throw at him, but in the end, he turned out to be a diamond! Caleb is pursuing an internship with the National Park Service with a goal of working in a National Park where he will be able to do research as well as have the opportunity to educate the public about the geological features of the Park. He is excited to start this new chapter of life. He is thankful to San Diego State for fostering his career and grateful for Aztec Adventures in enabling him to pursue the passion that lets him hang out with Rocks! Congratulations Caleb from all of us here at Aztec Recreation, thank you for all your dedication, passion, and fun attitude. You truly Rock!

Article by: Gregory F. Royse II


April 2017 - Phebe Boye Aztec Lanes


Phebe Boye
Aztec Lanes

Congratulations to Phebe Boye our Aztec Recreation April employee of the month! Phebe started working at Aztec Lanes last summer. She had been looking for work that could offer her the convenience of staying on campus as well as the school-friendly hours and found Aztec Lanes is a perfect match.

Phebe’s supervisor, Jamie Spector, says, “Phebe has been a rock star team member since day one of her employment. She takes pride in her position and the delivery of her work and she is able to produce a solid product no matter the size of her workload. She takes initiative when coming up with new ways to complete procedures, whether it be cleaning the pool table equipment or organizing supplies. Phebe’s genuine and kind character contributes to a positive guest experience.”

Phebe’s continued dedication to her work and anything she puts effort into speaks volumes to her character. She is perusing a degree in Psychology with a Minor in interdisciplinary studies and she plans to continue her education into graduate school. She is also a student of the Weber’s Honor College and a member of SDSU elite dance team - The Diamonds.

In addition to dancing for The Diamonds, Phebe started a dance club, Afrique Dance, two years ago. A traditional African dance club, Phebe has worked to build Afrique Dance Club from the ground up. The Club now boasts a robust roster of members and performance schedule. Afrique Dance will be holding a showcase on April 23rd in Montezuma Hall from 7pm to 9pm!

A quote that Phebe lives by is “Don’t stress. Finesse” Phebe shows a dedication to this saying, by gracefully navigating all that life throws at her. Whether it be a rush at Aztec Lanes, a dance performance or school, Phebe takes action to not let the stress affect her, instead she responds with finesse and appreciates all of her life experiences.

Phebe congratulations from all of us here at Aztec Recreation, thank you for continuing to provide an excellent environment for customers and your co-workers!

Article by: Gregory F. Royse II


March 2017 - Bailey Buhrer Aztec Adventures

Bailey Buhrer

Bailey Buhrer
Aztec Adventures

Congratulations to Bailey Buhrer, Aztec Adventures Outings Lead, the March Employee of the Month for Aztec Recreation! Bailey is a student of Environmental Science at SDSU, so when a job opened up with Aztec Adventures in fall 2015, her lifelong wanderlust kicked-in and called to her to apply for the position. With her high level of dedication, since that time Bailey was promoted to serve as the Outings Lead Supervisor. In her role, Bailey strives to reconnect fellow Aztecs to the outdoors through academic instruction, logistical coordination, and mentorship in helping other students learn the skills to become outdoor leaders.

Ben Ramaeker, Outdoor Programs Coordinator says, “Bailey takes immense pride in Aztec Adventures programming. She dedicates her time to mentor and teach new generations of student leaders the finer details associated with our outings. Additionally, she demonstrates great patience ensuring our staff members are confidently making decisions both in the office and backcountry settings.”

Bailey grew up in Northern California and camping was her family’s tradition. Growing up, she found herself journeying to places like Lake Shasta, Beks Lake, and local mountain ranges many weekends every year. This engrained a lifelong love of the wilderness! Coming to an urban campus like SDSU required an adjustment period, but Bailey was lucky enough to hold on to a bit of home though Aztec Adventures.

Being an Environmental Science major, a life goal for Bailey is nature conservation and its role in the modern world. She plans to become an Environmental Science professor so that she can inspire young minds to seek to enjoy and understand our environment. This would also allow her to continue her love for teaching that she has cultivated though some of the instructional classes she teaches now through Aztec Adventures ENS programs.

Some of Bailey’s favorite memories are from leading Aztec Adventures outings. Taking people into nature and teaching them how to be safe, have fun, and respect the environment, is incredibly fulfilling for her. Bailey finds that the best part of any trip is getting to sit around a campfire, look up at the stars and share stories over what may be someone’s first S’more. She sees the light in their eyes as they are caught up in all the new experiences! Bailey’s bliss is sharing a moment when the stress of city and school fade away and everyone can relax back into the familiar arms of mother nature.

Bailey’s favorite quote is from a high school friend, "There is no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing!" Bailey takes this quote to heart when heading out on adventures, firmly believing that being prepared is being safe, and you have to be safe to have fun!

Bailey, you have introduced the wilderness to so many, and are such a light in the office showing genuine passion and excitement. Thank you from all of us here at Aztec Recreation, as well as all those who introduced to the natural world.

Article by: Gregory F. Royse II


February 2017 - Zakiyyah Shaheed Member Services Lead

Zakiyyah Shaheed

Zakiyyah Shaheed
Member Services Lead

This month we are happy to congratulate Zakiyyah Shaheed on becoming the employee of the month. Zakiyyah began working at the ARC back in 2014 when she changed her major to nutrition. To her, the ARC has become more than just a place with people who share her passion for wellness, but also a place where she has made some great connections and friendships. To Zakiyyah her coworkers are one of the best parts of her job. She also enjoys her work because it gives her a chance to practice leadership skills, as well as help her fellow member service coworkers to provide the best guest experience for all the members.

“As a Member Service Lead, Zakiyyah has stepped up to become a leader amongst her peers. She is always looking for ways to contribute to making process improvements for the department and is always vocal about her ideas that she feels will benefit everyone,” said Jonecia Mahan, Zakiyyah’s supervisor.

Zakiyyah hopes to open up a nutrition company that focuses on pregnant mothers and infants after she graduates. Nutrition being her great passion in life, she said that being able to help give nutrition advice to people who are going through a new and profoundly distinctive life experience would be very fulfilling.

A surprising fun fact about Zakiyyah is that she loves to knit, and will most likely have a pair of Knitting needles somewhere close by at all times. To her knitting is a great way to practice self-care. Knitting a complicated pattern or just knitting something simple is like meditation to her, serving as a deeply cathartic practice that is a great way de-stress after a long day.

A personal quote that she tries to live life by is “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you” - Dr. Seuss. Zakiyyah said that this is one of her favorite quotes because it is all about self-confidence and being yourself. Which Zakiyyah feels is perfectly fits into her personal commitment to wellness.

Zakiyyah from all of us here at Aztec Recreation, as well as, all the members you’ve helped congratulations on becoming the employee of the month!

Article by: Gregory F. Royse II


January 2017 - Justin Barner Aquaplex Lifeguard

Justin Barner

Justin Barner
Aquaplex Lifeguard

Justin Barner began working with Aztec Recreation in April 2016. He lifeguarded in high school, so he felt that working at the Aquaplex would be a good fit for him. “I also knew I would actually enjoy going to work every day and could have a positive impact on Aztec Recreation,” he says.

The atmosphere of the Aquaplex is makes working there fun and inviting for Justin. “My favorite part about my job is everyone on the Aquaplex staff. We all get along really well and it makes working there extremely enjoyable.” He says that to succeed at his job, it’s necessary to come into work with a positive attitude, regardless of whether or not you’re having a bad day. “Even if you’re having a bad day, being thankful about having a job you like can really put things into perspective,” he explains.

“Justin is an excellent team player,” says Jake Siegfried, Aquaplex Manager. “He is dedicated to his position and works hard to help participants and fellow staff. He never misses a beat by coming prepared for every shift and goes straight to getting operations set for the day which include testing pool water chemistry and setting the deck. He is very knowledgeable about aquatics and on multiple occasions has offered creative and effective solutions to solving facility problems and/or issues.”

Justin is pursuing a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in Public Administration. After graduating, he is considering either the military or a career in law enforcement. He believes his job at the Aquaplex prepares him for these potential careers by helping advance his communication skills, being highly trained in rescue situations and interacting with the diverse participants every day. The motto he tries to live by is “work hard, play hard,” and that definitely shows through his work ethic. Congratulations, Justin! We appreciate your hard work and positivity!

Article by: Asha Bailey


December 2016 - Jake Hartford Intramural Sports

Jake Hartford

Jake Hartford
Intramural Sports

Jake began his journey with Aztec Recreation in 2013, where he worked as an Intramural Sports Official. “After participating in a number of Intramural Sports during the 2012-2013 school year, I saw an opportunity to partake in a more interesting side of sports,” he explained. “The way the officials carried themselves and the way they acted made me really respect the program and eventually lead to me applying for the position.”

Jake describes his experience working with the ARC as challenging but rewarding and fun. His favorite part about working with Intramural Sports is his opportunity to meet and get to know people from all over the United States and around the world. He also loves the relationship he has with his coworkers. “My coworkers are like a family to me,” he says. “We all work hard to support each other both at work and outside of work and we always have each other’s back.” The environment and relationships he’s built with his coworkers and players make Jake’s job enjoyable and makes him continue to work hard every shift.

Jake’s advice to people wondering how to succeed at his job is simple: enjoy what you do. “I have loved working at Aztec Recreation and that’s why I stayed for as many years as I have. Find a job that is not a 9-5, but a job that you want to go to and be excited about no matter the hours. You can find happiness in work but you have to be willing to pursue it.”

Congratulations Jake! You deserve it!

Article by: Asha Bailey


November 2016 - Joshua Holmes Aztec Recreation Marketing

Joshua Holmes

Joshua Holmes
Aztec Recreation Marketing

Congratulations to Josh Holmes for being selected as Aztec Recreation’s employee of the month! Josh has been with Aztec Recreation since Fall 2012. He applied for the job of Intramural Official at that time because he felt that the atmosphere would fit his personality best, which turned out to be true. “I’ve had an amazing experience working in Aztec Rec,” he says. “I’ve been able to move up in the organization and work in fields related to my future career. I have dozens of strong relationships with coworkers that I’ve known since 2012.”

Josh is double majoring in Psychology and Journalism & Media Studies, plus a minor in Marketing. After he graduates next spring, he plans to work for an advertising agency, creating digital ads. His job at the ARC prepares him for his future career by giving him “strong logistical, strategic, data mining and creative skills necessary to work as a social media and digital advertising specialist.”

“Josh Holmes is a tremendous asset to Aztec Recreation,” says Amy Schiller, Marketing Coordinator. “He has been able to assist with important communications on social media and has developed our post boosting and social media advertising programming. He has both strategic and technical skills in the platforms.” He appreciates the fact that the environment he works in is diverse and relaxed, and that his coworkers are also his friends outside of work. His advice to other coworkers on how to succeed at his job would consist of asking questions early and often, and do what’s within your power to find the answer.

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” Thanks for constantly hustling for Aztec Recreation, Josh! We appreciate you!

Article by: Asha Bailey


October 2016 - Kelly Kortright Aztec Aquaplex Lead

Kelly Kortright

Kelly Kortright
Aztec Aquaplex Lead

This month we are congratulating Kelly Kortright on being Aztec Recreation’s October Employee of the Month! Kelly started working at the Aquaplex 10 months ago as a lifeguard and aquatic instructor. She had a solid foundation in aquatics, but has grown in her position by applying her organizational and supervisory skills. Within the first six months Kelly was promoted to the role of Aquaplex Lead.

An average day for Kelly doesn’t exist. She explained, "There really is no such thing as "an average day." Every day is different and presents new experiences and challenges." When asked what advice she could extend to anyone thinking about applying for an Aquaplex position, she replied, "Don’t let anyone drown." On a serious note, she said that the most important thing is to be nice and remain respectful, even in potentially heated situations. She loves her job because of the environment the Aquaplex creates for her and her coworkers. To Kelly working at the Aquaplex is more like a family community than a workplace.

Jake Siegfried, Aquaplex Supervisor, said, "Kelly’s enthusiasm and connection with the staff and Aquaplex participants is apparent and contagious. She is always looking out for her co-workers and tries to make every experience with our guests memorable through her positivity and focus on providing excellent customer service."

Kelly’s personal motto is, "Sometimes the questions are complicated, and the answers are simple." Well, the answer is clear and simple that you definitely deserve to be October’s Employee of the Month! Congratulations, Kelly!

Article by: Asha Bailey


  • September 2016 - James Baluyut Mission Bay Aquatic Center Paddle Instructor/Dockmaster
  • August 2016 - Sergio Montes Aztec Recreation Member Services
  • July 2016 - Magda Aguirre Aztec Recreation Graphic Artist
  • June 2016 - Madelyn White Aztec Recreation Member Services
  • May 2016 - Allie Leduc Aquaplex Facilities Representative
  • April 2016 - Eric Barbret Aztec Adventures Equipment Maintenance Tech / Outings Lead
  • February 2016 - Sean Vessey Aquatic Instructor & Lifeguard
  • January 2016 - Tatianna Frausto Aztec Lanes Attendant
  • November 2015 - Juliana Spina Intramural Sports Supervisor, Official, Office Assistant
  • October 2015 - Alexa D’Orazio Group Fitness Instructor
  • September 2015 - Kassey Smith Aquaplex Lifeguard
  • August 2015 - Alyssa Romero ARC Member Services
  • July 2015 - Cory Dela Cruz Member Services
  • May 2015 - Austin Rhatigan Aztec Aquaplex
  • April 2015 - Sam Halliburton Member Services
  • March 2015 - Kendra Sin Aztec Recreation
  • January 2015 - Daniel Koble Aztec Lanes
  • December 2014 - Neely Waiche Group Fitness
  • November 2014 - Lauren Vollrath Aztec Adventures
  • October 2014 - Jesse Cabral Aztec Aquaplex
  • September 2014 - Hanna Leong Aztec Recreation
  • June 2014 - Mafer Arce Aztec Recreation
  • May 2014 - Sarah Smiley Aztec Recreation
  • April 2014 - Katie Hecker Aztec Adventures
  • February 2014 - Amanda Whiteley ARC
  • December 2013 - Corry Vogel ARC
  • November 2013 - Allie Raimondo MBAC


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