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San Diego State University

14th Annual 7th Grade Visit

“The Road to Success . . . Starts Here”
14th Annual Compact for Success Visit Brings Record Number of 7th Graders to San Diego State University

By Mary L. Lawlor

Saturday, October 26, 2013: For the 4,300 Sweetwater Union High School District 7th graders and their parents who arrived at San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena for the 14th annual Compact for Success program on Saturday, October 26, 2013, success seemed palpable as SDSU President Elliot Hirschman recounted stories of former San Diego State University scholars who have since graduated and are making their marks on the world. 

These include such notables as Ellen Ochoa, a former astronaut and current Director of the Johnson Space Center, and Ricardo Lara, California State Senator from Los Angeles. But then he made it personal by pointing to Compact for Success graduates who took advantage of the opportunities presented at SDSU.  These included Eddie Vasquez, who now serves as a Student Services Specialist at Cuyamaca Community College; Lindsay Goulet who participated in a Study Abroad opportunity and attended school at Oxford on her way to getting her teaching credential; and Ellese Carmona, who received her bachelor’s degree at SDSU and is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in biological and biomedical sciences at Harvard.  His point is that they all started on their roads to success at San Diego State and so could the 7th graders present today.

Next, Sweetwater Superintendent Dr. Edward Brand challenged the students to make their commitment to go to college now and be accountable “to yourself, your parents, your community and your country.”  He reminded them that, “People believe in you.”  He and Dr. Hirschman signed the memorandum of understanding cementing the relationship between the organizations through May of 2019.  This year’s crop of potential Compact for Success scholars is slated to graduate from Sweetwater in 2019 and San Diego State in June of 2023.

Mutual commitment

Part of the long-term continuity of the Compact for Success program has been the mutual commitment to support the Sweetwater students to get prepared, get in, and get through a 4-year university.  These include efforts by the Sweetwater district and school site personnel as well as Dr. Lou Murillo, who is the SDSU Compact Director, and his cadre of volunteers and Compact Mentors who assist middle school students in Sweetwater. Dr. Murillo and his staff work carefully to ensure that the components of the program, including the 7th grade visit, are completed in cooperation with Sweetwater counselors, teachers, parents, administrators and the community.  San Diego State professors have long cooperated collegially with Sweetwater teachers and support staff on professional development to increase rigor in classrooms and better prepare Sweetwater graduates to be college and career ready, and these efforts continue as the common core state standards and new assessment systems are implemented.  Students and their families receive assistance on financial planning, scholarships, tutoring services, university life, extracurricular opportunities, athletics, alumni services and support while they complete their undergraduate education. This has resulted in receipt of many awards by the Compact for Success and efforts to duplicate it at other universities and school districts.

Biggest in CFS history

The largest number of students and parents in history attended this 14th annual event.  As the crowd entered the venue, the newly established SDSU Mariachi Ensemble performed traditional standards. After the welcoming remarks and entertainment by the SDSU K.O. Hip-Hop team, the guests departed to choose from a campus tour, an information fair or attendance at any of eleven workshops ranging from topics such as saving for college to developing leadership skills to connecting with a mentor.  A Mexican-style burrito lunch was provided by Rubios.  Ten percent discounts were available at the SDSU Bookstore, and each 7th grader could pick up a pair of Aztec Football tickets at the fair.  All were asked to sign the banner pledging to go to college.  Being a beautiful fall San Diego day, many just enjoyed line dancing to the DJ music on the sidewalks in front of Hepner Hall or relaxing on the benches on the wide grass boulevard, known as Campanile Walkway,  running alongside Love Library, envisioning their future tenure here as San Diego State University students of the Compact for Success.