Toby Uecker serves as the Dean of Students at SDSU.
How has the Honors College at SDSU influenced your current path?
“The simplest answer is that the Honors College is the biggest reason that I even attended SDSU, and the community that I had in Honors as an undergraduate formed my deepest connections to this place that is now both my alma mater and my professional home. It was Honors faculty and staff whom I came back to visit in the decade or so between graduating and coming back to work in Brookings, Honors friends I stayed in close contact with over the years, an Honors administrator who made sure I knew when a job opened up in SDSU Housing & Residential Life that matched my professional experiences. Beyond that, thought, the values I learned and lived in Honors shape the way I live and work today. The interdisciplinarity of Honors gave me a wide-ranging toolkit for understanding the complex world around me. The relationships among students and faculty modeled for me how to get to know—and how to sincerely connect with—people across all sections of any community I’m a part of. The seminar-style of Colloquium and other Honors general education requirements gave me experience engaging in an array of group settings. Independent study taught me how to hold myself accountable for big projects and how to persevere when roadblocks come up. Honors didn’t solely dictate the path to where I am today, but it has been absolutely vital to shaping the way I approach that path and make choices along the way.”
What has your biggest "success" been?
I’m really proud of the success I’ve been a part of in building on SDSU’s Meet State program, the series of events that gets students moved in and connected to SDSU in their first few days on campus each fall. The Honors Hike and Read was really my “Meet State” when I started at SDSU Labor Day weekend of 2000, and I remember how meaningful it was to have members from across the SDSU community welcoming me to campus in my very first moments as a full-fledged Jackrabbit. Coordinating that kind of welcoming experience for a whole class of incoming students has meant a lot to me in the last few years. I’m proud of the way that Meet State unifies students, faculty, and staff around a common goal. I’ve been excited to build growing connections with Brookings community partners and with Jackrabbit Athletics to make Meet State even bigger and better. I’m grateful for all of the Jackrabbits who really think of Meet State as a part of their list of annual campus traditions. Even with the different approach we took to Meet State 2020 (spreading move-in out across more days to create greater safety in the global pandemic), I was bursting with Jackrabbit energy each day that I put on my blue Meet State t-shirt.
What advice would you give current students? Your peers?
Regardless of where you are in life—current student, recent alum, longtime friend of Honors—I think it’s incredibly important to make connections with people who are at a DIFFERENT place than you are. That could mean getting to know a neighbor down the street who’s older or younger than others on the block or connecting with someone at your workplace or in your classroom who grew up a different part of the country or going to a community event hyped up by a friend-of-a-friend social media contact, even though you don’t know much about it.
For Honors alums like me, I think have more of a challenge than a nugget of advice. That challenge is to give sincere consideration to how you’re going to “pay forward” the experiences you’ve had so far. It could be through parenting or community service or fundraising or political activism or writing a book. No matter what it is, your work can propel others’ experiences in the same way that the people before us—many of them in Honors—boosted us on our own journeys.