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San Diego State University

13th Annual 7th Grade Visit

By Mary L. Lawlor

 

Sweetwater 7th Graders Continue Tradition with
Compact for Success Visit to San Diego State University

Saturday, October 20, 2012: Eddie Vasquez attended the Compact for Success 13th Annual 7th Grade Campus Visit to San Diego State University on October 20, 2012. What is so special about Eddie is that he also attended the inaugural 7th grade visit to San Diego State in 2000 as a 7th grader along with his mother and his teacher. Eddie remembers his teacher, “was so excited and I was excited with her.” The visit changed Eddie and his mother as well.

“It was the first time she ever saw me going to college,” he explained.

Eddie kept his commitment to the Compact for Success, graduated from Montgomery High School and enrolled as a Compact Scholar at San Diego State. While it took him 6 years, he kept his pledge to graduate. Eddie received his degree in comparative literature in the same Viejas Arena where 3,800 students and parents now waited in anticipation for their day of introduction to the Compact for Success.

While he sat in the transformed basketball arena in his cap and gown waiting to receive his diploma, Eddie looked at his mother in the audience, and saw her crying. Eddie used his extra time at SDSU to take a leadership role, joined the Scholars for Success program and with the Educational Opportunity Program office helped develop a transition program for first time admitted transfer students to San Diego State University in the spring semester of 2012. He hopes to continue to help students get into college as a career.

Day of Inspiration

The students from this new class of 2018 gathered for their day of inspiration beginning with a mariachi performance by Mariachi Chula Vista from Chula Vista High School. Dr. Lou Murillo , Compact for Success Director, introduced another SDSU graduate, Julio Velasquez, who received a Bachelor of Fine Arts’ degree in Dance in 2010. The hip hop hero performed some special moves and told the students that he got involved in dance as a 7th grader and dance helped him build his confidence and self-esteem. Julio then invited 60 plus students and his former physical education teacher to the floor to dance to the tune “Gangnam Style” with many students spontaneously flipping, splitting and breaking as the rest followed the choreographed moves of Julio with unbridled joy and enthusiasm.

Next, San Diego State University President Dr. Elliot Hirshman spoke of the over 310,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni who are sending a message to these young scholars that hard work and dedication will bring them to future careers in science, technology, English, math or maybe even as college professors. He presented three tokens of advice: learn a new word every single day, master algebra as quickly as you can, and be nice to your parents and everyone else who helps you along the way.

Opportunity of a Lifetime

Sweetwater Superintendent Dr. Edward Brand followed by calling the Compact for Success the “opportunity of a lifetime.” “The door is open for you. There is someone there to greet you. Seize the opportunity.” He warned that getting there requires perseverance and encouraged students to work hard every day. “Make a difference. Many of you will be the leaders of the future.” The time arrived to unfurl the “I pledge to go to college” banner that all the 7th graders were asked to sign that day.

Dropping from the rafters while tossing t-shirts to the crowd, SDSU Army ROTC Sergeant Eduardo Buelas rappelled to the floor to present the banner to the dignitaries who followed by signing the official Memorandum of Understanding for the Class of 2018 between San Diego State University, Sweetwater Union High School District and the San Ysidro School District. The 7th graders slowly filed up the Viejas Arena stairs to spend the next two hours participating in workshops regarding college, taking a tour of the campus, enjoying lunch provided by Rubios, perusing information booths on a variety of topics, listening to music, shopping for college gear at the SDSU Bookstore, and collecting free vouchers for a San Diego State football game at Qualcomm Stadium.

Aztecs for Life

This massive yearly event is only possible through the cooperation and coordination of the school districts, volunteers, community organizations, San Diego State University and the Compact for Success staff. As the sun rose overhead, warming the chilly air, the newly-minted “Aztecs for Life” gathered by their home schools once again to board their buses to return to the South Bay, armed with the knowledge, tools and desire to attend San Diego State University and grab the gold ring of opportunity for a wonderful future. Just like Eddie Vasquez did.