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Founder of College of Business Toastmasters Group Wins Award

Debra Bertram holding a plaque listing the winners of the award

College of Business data analyst and distinguished Toastmaster, Debra Bertram (’03, psychology/’08, MBA), was honored with the Helen M. Blanchard Trailblazer Award fromToastmasters District 5 for her founding of the Toastmasters organization at SDSU’s College of Business Administration. The award was presented to her on August 1, 2015.

The Helen M. Blanchard Trailblazer Award has been given annually in recognition of innovative and exceptional service leadership in District 5 since 2010. It was named for Helen M. Blanchard who was the first woman in Toastmasters in 1970 and was elected as its first international president in 1985.

The College of Business Administration’s Toastmaster’s program is the only one of its kind at SDSU and is open to all juniors, seniors and graduate students who have declared a business major. The program, taught during each fall and spring semester, culminates in an awards event at the end of each 10-week session. “We get approximately 100 to 130 applications each semester, but we only have slots for 60 students,” Bertram said of the popular program. “A little over 85 percent of the accepted students complete the program.”

Bertram, who is a distinguished Toastmaster herself, suggested starting Toastmasters in 2012 to a former college dean and former college advisory board chair when they were examining options to help SDSU’s business students bolster their job interview and presentation skills. She then took the lead combining the Toastmasters Speechcraft program with a college course syllabus to fit the needs of SDSU’s business students.

The SDSU College of Business Administration’s Toastmasters program commenced on February 1, 2013 with Bertram as one of the room leads. As of the start of SDSU’s fall semesters 2015, over 250 business students have completed the program.

To learn more about the SDSU College of Business Toastmasters’ program or to sign up, please visit