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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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Compact Scholars Are Ready for the Next Step

Compact Scholars will honor its sixth annual graduating class at a reception on May 2.
By Kristin Riemedio

San Diego State University’s Compact Scholars are students who have had their eyes set on crossing the commencement stage since seventh grade.

The partnership, between the Sweetwater Union High School Distric and SDSU’s Compact for Success Program, involves SUHSD teachers working with SDSU faculty to create a curriculum that helps students meet specific benchmarks for guaranteed admission to the university. Now, many years later, these Compact Scholars are fulfilling their dreams and are ready to take on the real world.

On May 2 Compact Scholars will hold its annual graduation reception. This year marks the sixth graduating class that the program has produced and each year the number of students who earn their degree through the program grows. The current six-year graduation rate for the program is 65 percent.

“I think these students thrive because of a combination of factors including dedicated effort, long-term vision and planning,” said Janet Abbot, director of Compact Scholars. “That individual determination and focus, coupled with support provided by the Compact program sets the students on a positive trajectory from a very early age.”

The goal of the Compact Scholars Program is to deepen student engagement and to promote higher graduation rates for Sweetwater District students and ultimately, get them to attend and graduate from SDSU.

“I have seen that the students are proud to be Aztecs and, in many cases, proud to be the first in their families to earn a college degree,” Abbot said. “They do not take their education for granted and are sincerely invested in their own success.”

Students in the Compact Scholars program utilize the resources available to them to make their own success. Emily Escalante, Michael Mothershed and Jessica Macias are testaments to that.

Emily Escalante, 23, B.S., mechanical engineering

Emily Escalante

Emily Escalante joined the Compact for Success program in high school. Since coming to SDSU she has been a part of the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) program, Scholars for Success, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and started the SDSU chapter of MAES Latinos in Science in Engineering student organization.

She is appreciative of the experiences she had at SDSU and plans to use what she’s learned in the future.

“The Compact Scholars program grabbed me very early in my college career and showed me the importance of giving back to the community,” Escalante said. “I am truly blessed to have had such a successful five-year journey with SDSU, and will take all the lessons I’ve learned with me forever.”

Her favorite thing about being a Compact Scholar is the sense of community that it gave her.

“As a commuter it’s difficult to feel involved in campus life. Compact Scholars helped me belong to something and for that I’m eternally grateful,” she said.

After graduation, Escalante will be a full-time professional mechanical engineer for the Department of the Navy and is currently choosing between two job offers from Naval Air Systems Command in either Florida or California.

Michael Mothershed, 21, B.A., political science

Michael Mothershed

Michael Mothershed said the Compact Scholars program has provided him with structure that has helped him excel academically and personally.

Since becoming an SDSU student, Mothershed has been a part of numerous organizations. He held many leadership positions with Scholars for Success, Scholars Without Borders, Mortar Board Senior Honor Society and was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Eta Sigma and the Golden Key Honor Societies.

Mothershed knows that getting involved on campus has been extremely impactful on his college career.

“Success takes hard work, vision and dedication,”Mothershed said. “But most importantly it requires us to not be afraid of taking a step into unfamiliar territory, not knowing what challenges we may come across.”

He is grateful for everything he has learned and gained through Compact Scholars.

“I appreciate that Compact Scholars staff always want the best for students, pushing us to engage in opportunities and help us grow as people,” he said. “They will stop at nothing to provide as much help as you need.”

After graduation Mothershed plans on seeking employment opportunities with intelligence fields within the federal government.

Jessica Macias, 21, B.A., single subject english

Jessica Macias

One of things Jessica Macias’ values most is to give back to the communities that have given her so much.

During her time at SDSU she has served as the secretary and public relations officer for Scholars for Success. She also served as the treasurer and president of the Pacific Islander Student Association and was a member of the Educational Opportunity Program.

Macias also works as a program assistant at the After School Programs Department for South Bay Community Services, where she feels she has been able to make an impact on student’s lives.

“My main objective as a future teacher is to inspire students to also give back to their community,” she said. “I want to be the leader that plants the seed in the students’ minds so that they want to help others in any way possible, even if it is as small as donating a few hours of their day.”

After graduation Macias is planning to pursue a teaching credential to work toward her goal of teaching English in the South Bay community.