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San Diego State University

Compact for Success

12th Annual 7th Grade Visit

By Mary L. Lawlor

Saturday, October 29, 2011: Over 4,000 students from 12 schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District converged on the SDSU campus. Arriving in 68 buses, the students and many of their parents were here to participate in the 12th annual 7th grade campus visit. Groups ranged in size:

This is the first year that students attending San Ysidro High School were included in the Compact and attended the 7th grade visit.

As participants filed into SDSU's Viejas Arena to eventually fill over half of the venue, each student received a welcoming SDSU gift bag containing:

  • A commemorative T-shirt and backpack
  • A Compact folder with an informational booklet about SDSU
  • A flyer outlining the “A-G” course requirements
  • A pencil and an evaluation form for the visit

Being a participant also meant receiving a 10% discount at the campus bookstore and the opportunity for a voucher to attend an SDSU football game.

A Banner Day

Over 100 volunteers dressed in bright red vests helped facilitate the crowds. The morning was filled with motivational remarks, campus tours, informational workshops and booths, musical entertainment, and a catered lunch provided by Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill.

Each Sweetwater middle school has its own “Compact Advisors” who work through SDSU to assist students at their school sites, providing information, inspiration, encouragement and help.

Today, the Advisors held signs emblazoned with their schools’ names as they shepherded their charges to their designated seating areas. The Chula Vista High School of Creative and Performing Arts’ Mariachi Chula Vista, under the direction of Mark Fogelquist, provided some energetic entertainment, followed by the smoother sounds of the SDSU Latin Jazz Quartet with Dan Reagan and Lorraine Castellanos. Guests were also thrilled to view slides recognizing each of the 12 schools projected on the gigantic “scoreboard” suspended in the center of the arena.

Lou Murillo, SDSU Compact for Success Director, welcomed the largest crowd ever to attend a 7th grade visit. He recognized and thanked the staff and volunteers who work so hard to ensure that the event is a success. SDSU’s new president, Elliot Hirshman, was out of town but sent a welcome message via recording. Dr. Hirshman’s practical advice included:

  • Learn a new word every day
  • Master algebra as soon as you can
  • Be nice to adults who are helping you along the way!

Sweetwater Superintendent Edward Brand livened up the crowd by urging the students to raise one arm and then the other, then clap hands together to start their dreams today. He urged students to pledge to graduate from college and to seize the opportunity being presented to them.

“I Pledge to go to College”

At each 7th grade visit, students are asked to sign an “I Pledge to go to College” banner to demonstrate their commitment to the Compact for Success. This year, the banner was dramatically delivered by Captain Cotte from the SDSU Army ROTC program. The captain descended from a catwalk overhead and rappelled to the floor carrying the banner. Halfway down, he stopped and tossed Army t-shirts to the animated 7th graders, before delivering the banner to the stage.

Later, led by the Compact Advisors, students left the arena to head to the heart of campus for further activities. They had their choice of a campus tour, a variety of workshops, an information fair, or enjoying music and a DJ on the lawn on a beautiful fall morning.

A total of 8 workshops were each repeated 3 times and included topics such as:

  • “Steps to College”
  • “The College Experience”
  • “Preparing for College Costs”
  • “Exploring Careers”
  • “Decades of College Dreams: AVID”
  • “From Sweetwater to Sweet Success”
  • “Bootcamp College”

Presenters included the Parent Institute for Quality Education, SDSU Residential Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Compact Scholars Program, SDSU Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, San Diego County Office of Education, SDSU Associated Students, and Cal SOAP. Attendance at each workshop ranged from 45 to 100.

Filled with information and Rubio’s burritos, salsa and chips, the future class of 2017 Aztecs made their way back to the parking lot to return to their school sites, ready to focus on making their college dreams a reality.

James R. Kitchen, SDSU Vice President for Student Affairs, confirmed SDSU’s commitment to continuing the Compact for Success and even expanding efforts to include South Bay elementary districts and the community college district.

Not only is the 7th grade visit a symbol of commitment to future students, it is a tangible demonstration of the strengthening of community between San Diego State University and the region it serves.



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