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SDSU Imperial Valley admits its first batch of freshman in almost a decade for Fall 2019. Video: Padma Nagappan

Imperial Valley Freshmen Ready for Historic Educational Journeys

SDSU Imperial Valley admits its first batch of freshmen in nearly a decade for Fall 2019.
By SDSU News Team

Megan Brinkman and Carlos Fitch share a special enthusiasm and excitement about being admitted to San Diego State University Imperial Valley as freshmen for the fall semester. 

One’s an Imperial Valley native, the other a recent immigrant. Both are part of a class of 68 full- and part-time freshmen, the first time in nearly a decade the campus has admitted full-time students directly from high school. For Brinkman and Fitch, the educational journey promises to be historic, but for very different reasons. 

Fitch is attending SDSU Imperial Valley as a part-time freshman while also attending Imperial Valley College (IVC). A Calexico High School graduate, Fitch is the first in his family to go to college.
Brinkman, an Imperial High School graduate, is one of just 21 freshmen accepted to the full-time criminal justice degree program being offered to local high school graduates. It is the first time since 2010 a full-time undergraduate degree has been available at SDSU Imperial Valley.

“We are excited to be able to add one full-time degree program this fall,” Dean Gregorio Ponce said. “We want students to have the option to attend and earn a university four-year degree without having to leave the Imperial Valley.” 

In fall 2020, the campus will add a full-time psychology degree program.

Having full-time degree programs at SDSU Imperial Valley is particularly important to the region because many eligible local graduating high school seniors do not immediately enroll in any CSU campus, Ponce said. 
“To grow our local economy, we have to raise the community’s college-educated percentages,” Ponce said. SDSU Imperial Valley “can be an important part of the solution by offering more educational options and opportunities for students.”    

Close to home

Brinkman knew from an early age that she wanted to be an attorney. 

“I watched a lot of crime shows on TV with my dad when I was young,” she said. “A lot of my friends think it’s strange, but I knew what I wanted to do.”

Later, she learned criminal justice was a logical undergraduate field of study to prepare for law school.

Brinkman said she initially applied to California State University, Chico, but then decided she didn’t want to leave the Imperial Valley.  She was prepared to attend the Imperial Valley campus on a part-time basis when the full-time criminal justice degree program was announced in March and she was admitted.

Brinkman was home-schooled until she entered high school. She conceded the transition to public school was full of surprises.

“It was tough balancing my excitement with friends and classes,” she said. “There were so many opportunities available in public school that I didn’t expect.”

She took advantage of many opportunities, including choir and the FFA agricultural education organization. As a senior, she was editor of the Imperial High School yearbook. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

First generation

Fitch is one of the students admitted into the part-time freshman, or IVUP, degree program. IVUP is a partnership program through which students attend both SDSU Imperial Valley and Imperial Valley College (IVC) for their first two years while completing their bachelor’s degrees and potentially an associate’s degree within four years. 

Fitch, a history major, is a first-generation college student. “My parents are excited,” he said.

Fitch’s parents moved the family to Calexico from Mexicali to get their son a better education. He started his sophomore year at Calexico High. The transition wasn’t easy: Fitch didn’t speak English.  

English Language Development Classes eased him through his sophomore year; he moved into regular classes the following year. As a senior, Fitch took Advanced Placement English Literature and got an A. He graduated with a 4.08 GPA.

Fitch said the move to Calexico High School turned out to be the plus his parents had sought. “I learned a lot about people. I learned people are kind and want to help.”

Fitch had applied to and been offered admission at the San Diego campus before he chose to attend the Calexico campus instead.

“I know the community, I understand it,” he said. “I am proud of my heritage and I want to be part of it.”