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Monday, September 25, 2023

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A student signs the "I Pledge To Go To College" board at the Compact for Success 7th Grade Visit to SDSU. (Credit: SDSU Student Affairs Communications Services) A student signs the "I Pledge To Go To College" board at the Compact for Success 7th Grade Visit to SDSU. (Credit: SDSU Student Affairs Communications Services)

Achieving the Dream

Seventh-grade students get the opportunity to embark on the Aztec Experience.
By Mallory Black

More than 5,000 students from 18 local middle schools and their parents descended on the San Diego State University campus last Saturday for the 17th annual Compact for Success 7th Grade Visit to SDSU.

In collaboration with the Sweetwater Union High School District, the SDSU Compact for Success Program offers a path to higher education to underrepresented middle school students from San Diego’s South Bay region. Compact for Success Director Wendy Alemán said the goal for the visit is for students to leave campus envisioning themselves not only as college students, but SDSU students in particular.

“We want students and parents to know what SDSU is now and what it could potentially be for them in the future,” Alemán said. “These students are potential Aztecs - the Class of 2022. We want to connect them to what the Aztec Experience is, what the university has to offer and show them the benefits of being a part of the SDSU community.”

With support from partners from across campus, the activities began with a welcome ceremony for families in Viejas Arena. Throughout the day, tours and informational sessions — offered in English and Spanish — gave the seventh graders and their parents a glimpse of campus life.

Several student and parent panels, representing each of the university’s colleges and campus partners such as the Division of Undergraduate Studies, SDSU Athletics and Associated Students, were incorporated this year to offer first-hand experiences on topics such as paying for college, getting involved and finding a major.

Motivating students to succeed

Compact for Success is a long-standing community partnership between SDSU and the Sweetwater Union High School District to ensure the district’s students graduate from high school college-ready. Sweetwater students are encouraged to participate in Compact for Success, which offers students guaranteed admission to SDSU if they meet specific curriculum requirements from seventh through 12th grade.

On Saturday, participants signed the “I Pledge To Go To College” board as an act of their commitment to continue their education after high school.

SDSU alumnus Nancy Castro-Nieto (‘81, ‘82) is a Sweetwater district counselor. She said the visit motivates families to prepare for college early.

“The whole day makes it easier to have the conversation about why college is important, especially because San Diego State is in their backyard,” Castro-Nieto said. “While the benchmarks are rigorous, students who complete the Compact for Success requirements will be college-ready."

Next generation of Aztecs

Alemán said the vision for Compact for Success is to create a college-going culture for students that transcends across the Sweetwater district and beyond generations.

Aztec alumnus Angel Rocha (’15), is a first-generation college graduate and now a graduate student at SDSU. He remembers walking by the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre as a freshman and getting flashbacks from his seventh grade visit.

“My parents didn’t know much about colleges in the area, so when we came to the seventh grade visit, we became more informed and were able to see the campus for the first time," Rocha said. "Coming here to SDSU as a student was something I was proud of and my parents were proud of me too.”

For more information about Compact for Success and the requirements for Sweetwater district students, visit the program’s website.