Compact Scholars Blog

Student Spotlight: Jack Kennedy

Name: Jack Kennedy High School: Eastlake High School Major: Computer Engineering Expected Graduation: 2020 Favorite quote: Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Forrest Gump Hobby: Bodybuilding, Basketball   What is your... read more

Student Spotlight: Tanya Suarez

Name: Tanya Suarez Major: Psychology Expected Graduation Date: 2018 Favorite Quote: “Independence is happiness” -Susan B. Anthony Hobby: Painting, listening to music, helping people, picking up trash, cleaning, organizing, working, making money, doing... read more

Student Spotlight: Claudia Eguia

Name: Claudia Eguia High School: Eastlake High School Major: Chemical Physics Expected Graduation Date: 2019 Favorite Quote: “Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.” Miguel Cervantes... read more

Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Nicasio | Business Owner, Former Compact Scholar



My name is Jessica Nicasio and I graduated in May 2016 with a B.S in Business Marketing and a minor in Entrepreneurship and Spanish.


In my business, I help creative entrepreneurs + small business owners design a beautiful and modern website that converts. JNL Media Co. is a digital marketing agency that focuses on Squarespace website design, branding, and content management.


What compelled you to start your own business? What do you hope to accomplish through this opportunity?


When I graduated college I was faced with a tough choice: Would I go after my passion and start my own digital marketing business or go the corporate route? For more than one reason, I chose to take the corporate route and started working for corporate america. It seemed to be the best choice, and it was at the moment, but I quickly realized I couldn’t let go of the idea of starting my own business. I was learning a lot in my corporate sales job but one thing was missing, my creativity.


I did a couple of internships in social media marketing and content management so I was familiar with the field but I just didn’t know how I could take my skills and actually start my own business. I was lucky enough to run into a group called the Bucketlist Bombshells, which focus on teaching millennial women how to launch a service based business that allows for freedom to travel, and enrolled in their courses. I soon realized that starting my own business was possible so I took my love for marketing, design, and entrepreneurship and here I am now.


Through my business I hope to give creative entrepreneurs and small business owners the power to effectively present their services by transforming their ideas into beautiful brand identities with lead generating websites. On a more personal note though, I plan to build this business to a point where I am able to inspire other millenial women to do the same. I also have a love for travel so this location independent business will ideally support me financially so that I can be able to travel and work remotely. I am actually going on to my first destination this upcoming July! I will be spending the summer in Barcelona while joining a coworking community so that I can continue to grow my business.


What are a few challenges you’ve faced and may be currently facing with running your own business?


I think this is true for all business owners that are just starting out but it’s more of a learning experience than an actual challenge. When you are starting your own business you wear all the hats from marketeer to accountant so you can see how this might be overwhelming. When you’re your own boss you have to make sure you have everything straightened out but I am lucky that my passion is marketing and design so I really enjoy it. The legal, accounting, and budgeting sides are what I find the most challenging.


Is this something you always saw yourself doing?


I wouldn’t say always but from an early age I knew I wanted to do my own thing. I couldn’t picture myself working in a 9-5 job with only two weeks of vacation for the rest of my life. I knew that there had to be another way, a way that would allow me to express my creativity while providing value to others. I thought about it during college but I was so focused on my classes and didn’t even know where to begin so I didn’t give it a shot then.


What resources / activities / programs at SDSU enabled you to find success throughout college?


I would say that my study abroad semester and joining the board of two campus orgs impacted me the most.


Studying abroad in Madrid, Spain Spring 2015 literally changed my life. I know it sounds cheesy but it honestly did. I was a commuter student so I never did the whole going away for college thing, so you can imagine how terrified I was to spend a whole six months away from home. Something told me I would regret it if I didn’t do it so I took a chance and moved 5,500+ miles across the world. Being abroad taught me so much about not only myself but the way the world works. It made me appreciate other cultures and really changed my view of the world. I would definitely attribute my study abroad semester to giving me the travel bug, I am now at 17 countries and counting!


Becoming involved on campus came post study abroad. I feel like being abroad took me so out of my comfort zone that when I came back to SDSU I was ready to continue the trend. Like I mentioned earlier, I was a commuter student so I never took the time to get involved on campus, I would literally go to class and then straight back home. My last year at state  I joined two clubs and then became part of the board of those two clubs my last semester. The people I met and speakers I got to interact with were hands down the best part of my college experience (besides my study abroad semester of course).


What positive behaviors / mentalities / lessons have you picked up in college that help you to this day?


Being accountable and working hard have definitely helped me the most post-college. Once you hit college you no longer have teachers reminding you of deadlines or holding you accountable to completing your assignments. You are on your own and will only see results if you actually put in the work. It’s the same in the “real” world, you either hold yourself accountable and do the work or you blame others for your failures.


If you had the opportunity to go back in time and adjust one behavior / habit you had in college, what would it be and why?


Get out of your comfort zone! I don’t know what was going through my head then but I wish I would have gotten involved on campus sooner. Being focused in school was good but I wish I would have been less focused on getting straight A’s and more focused on connecting with other like minded people. College is literally the best place to find people your age that are into the same things and whom you can learn from. There is no other time in your life where you will be surrounded by that many people your age and have that many opportunities to get involved.


Do you have any tips for other potential entrepreneurs or students in the media field looking to expand their knowledge and experience?


Of course! A couple of things actually:


  1. You don’t have to wait to be given opportunities especially with what you want to do. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur then making something out of nothing is your forte. If you can’t land an internship then start freelancing either on sites like Upwork or reach out to local businesses to help out with their marketing. College is the time to try different things and figure out what you are good at and what you enjoy doing.
  2. Now is the time to take risks because most people your age don’t have a family to support or a mortgage to pay, so if you’ve been dreaming of starting your business then do it! It may require upfront sacrifices like your time but if you love it then you won’t mind it.
  3. It’s great to read books, go to class, and listen to podcasts but at one point you need to find the balance between learning and doing. One thing I struggled with (and sometimes still do) was finding the fine line between being a student and executing. I naturally love to learn so I found myself consumed with consuming content. I have realized that I can actually learn more by doing that reading about what to do. Stop daydreaming and strategizing of how you are going to make it happen and decided to take action and make it happen.


Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?


Three of my biggest passions are business, travel, and writing so it’s no surprise that my five year goal involves all three. In five years I see myself continuing to travel and operating my business simultaneously, as long as I have a wifi connection then I can work from anywhere. I also love to write and have been writing on Medium about business/marketing, life lessons, and travel so I see myself writing in some bigger publications such as the Huffpost.


For now success to me doesn’t involve living in a nice studio apartment, having a corporate job, and a new car. I had all that but traded it for staring my own business and traveling.

The why you do something is more important than how you do it so as long as my why remains the same I will continue to strive to inspire people through my story, actions, and accomplishments. I want to encourage others to believe in themselves and know that they can do and be anything they want to as long as they are being authentic to themselves.


(Optional) Please include anything else you feel important to tell our student readers, or anything you’d like to say in general!


Don’t let your sense of possibilities be replaced with what society tells you is realistic. Reality is subjective, your reality is created by convincing yourself it’s actually possible. You don’t have to have everything figured out now but know that the only way you will figure it out is by trying new things. Now’s the time to do the things you’ve always wanted to, whether is starting your own business or going on that backpacking trip.


Thanks for featuring me, it’s truly an honor! If any student wants to reach out to me and ask me any questions they are more than welcomed. The best way to reach me is and they can find my website at


Let me know if you have any further questions.


Name: Edgar Ramirez

High School: Olympian High School

Major: Biology – Biology Engineering

Expected Graduation: 2018


Favorite quote:

“Life well spent is long.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“Life itself is a quotation.” – Jorge Luis Borges


They both go hand in hand I guess.



I love to play video games, preferably if they are Pokemon. I also love to travel (it doesn’t matter if it’s far away or a couple of hours from SD–it’s an adventure). I like to hike, have picnics, read (especially if close to lakes or bodies of water). I enjoy taking runs and walks at parks. I like to watch 80s movies because they are super cheesy.


What is your favorite part about SDSU?

I’ve been at SDSU for about 6 years now. I love the Koi Pond Area a lot. All of the rebuilds are great, but my favorite part of SDSU has to be the weekly Farmer’s Market Food; I love trying new food and that place is the place to go for top notch food at a reasonable price.


How has the Compact Scholars Program helped you throughout your college career?

Compact for Success helped me in my high school years quite a bit. They were my first insight into the possibility of going to college and they motivated me to maintain a strong GPA in order to make that possibility a reality. It was because of the program that I took AP and Honors classes which prepared me for college. The program’s first meetings gave me a glimpse of what college was going to be like, which helped me visualize my career path. Other programs like PATH, for example, knew of this program, so the networking aspect also helped me meet new professionals.


Tell us about an experience you have had outside of class. (Job, internship, project, etc.)

Last summer, I was selected on behalf of the MHIRT program to go to Taiwan for 3 months. It was my first international experience overseas and it was fantastic, super fun and eye opening. In Taiwan, I worked at KMU’s Sports Medicine Department designing a novel leg press machine for the Eastern Asian elder population. It was a very daunting task which required me to not only design a novel machine, never to be seen before, but also write an article on how this machine operates and how it will be used for research, how to build it, and how to code the electronics.


Basically it was a project that maybe 6-10 engineers could work on being done by only me. It was very hard, and all the software was in Chinese. I was by myself working on this and also helped other students with their research projects since I had experience in this field of Sports Medicine Research. It was all worth it, though, because it was fun and challenging in a good way. I made friends that to this day I am still in contact with, and I finished the product and got the department funding to make a prototype. Currently, the NIH and other biomedical programs want to help fund me a small company where I can make my inventions and turn my ideas into reality. The experience helped me network with engineering companies and research agencies. But enough of the professional stuff! I also learned to be even more open minded about the world. Like everyone, I only had perceptions of Taiwan thanks to Youtube or googling around. I wanted my own experiences and views so I tried to research as broadly as possible, about the history and maybe social interactions, to not offend anyone. But being there, like I said before, it was great. The island is so beautiful and rich in culture. The people are super nice and friendly. It’s safe. It’s beyond humid but that’s besides the point. There is so much to explore and do and it was really “homey,” which I appreciated.


What is your favorite class on campus and why?

My favorite class that I took was SPAN 402: Spanish American Prose and Poetics. You would image that because I am an engineer I would have chosen an engineering or science related class, but nah, this class is super fun. What I loved about this class is when we read Jorge Luis Borges who has become my favorite author of all time because he incorporates philosophy and all types of science, mostly theoretical physics, together in his stories, which blew me away. I found a class where I could discuss with my fellow peers what I love, which is science, and philosophy and psychology. In that class, our minds traveled to the possibility of parallel universes and micro/macro universes. You name it, we thought about it. Lots of thinking!


Are you involved in any organizations or clubs on campus?

I was involved in a couple of organizations before like AMSA and SHAB, SWE a bit. But currently, no.


What do you plan on doing after graduation?

I am planning to work in the biomedical industry. I would like to work with technology that surrounds orthopedics, biomonitoring, rehabilitation or sports medicine/biomechanics.


What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?

My advice for incoming freshmen is to have an open mind to whatever and whenever things happen. For me, my college years have been the best years of my life. The most fun for sure, but also the most transformative. I have had the best experiences, the best friendships, and I have met amazing people in these years. I also experienced the worst moments of my life as well as the most difficult years, work and personal. My advice is to get to know your true self and do stuff, explore what you need to explore, do what you want to do, learn what you want to learn and seize any opportunity that comes your way that you think will help you in the future, no matter how difficult, hard or simple, no matter how daunting the opportunity seems. You will learn to appreciate and coordinate your career direction, to be more artsy about it. You paint your own canvas better with these opportunities. Allow yourself learn new things, new skills, new career opportunities so that these lessons can open new venues for you. Lastly, have fun and enjoy the ride!


Student Profile

Kaylani Cayabyab

High School: Otay Ranch High School

Major: Microbiology

Expected Graduation: 2021


Favorite quote:

“Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.”

– Theodore Roosevelt


Hobby: I like to hang out with friends, play music on different instruments, listen to instruments, and go out for food.


What is your favorite part about SDSU?

My favorite part about SDSU is the campus’s welcoming community and approachable staff.


How has the Compact Scholars Program helped you throughout your college career?

The Compact Scholars Program has given me different opportunities that I wouldn’t have found out on my own.


Tell us about an experience you have had outside of class. (Job, internship, project, etc.)

I did STEM Start over summer with Dr. Casas, which helped me transition into my first semester of college.


What is your favorite class on campus and why?

I enjoyed COMM 103 because although I am not a communication major, it helped me organize my thoughts into an effective way for delivery.


Are you involved in any organizations or clubs on campus?

Yes, APSA (Asian Pacific Student Alliance) , AB (Andres Bonifacio) Samahan Organization, and the Women in Science Society.


What do you plan on doing after graduation?

I plan on going to graduate school and eventually going into to either research or the medical field.


What advice would you give to incoming freshmen?

Don’t underestimate general ed classes and find ways to maintain the motivation and excitement that you have in the beginning of the year.