gtk-swaAt Southwest Airlines, our desire to make a difference in the lives of those who live and work in the communities we serve comes from a deep-rooted passion – connecting People to what’s important in their lives. That passion has been in our DNA since our first flight took off in 1971. Although our Company has gone from serving three cities to now serving international destinations, our commitment to connecting People to what’s important in their lives, has never faltered.

We believe that connections can inspire People to do what’s important to them, whether that’s to move to a new city and start a new job, fly home to be with loved ones, or finally get to see that bucket list city. We’re proud to play a part in those important life events for our Customers.

Louis C. Murillo never knew that a connection to a sport could forever change the path of his life. His love for basketball not only opened doors for him personally, it has inspired him to open doors for Latino youth, making a life-changing impact on the students with whom he works. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about Louis and the phenomenal work he’s done to create positive change in the Latino community.

Louis C. Murillo Looks Back

San Diego State University Compact for Success Director Lou Murillo is paving the way for students to achieve a higher education. Through his hard work and dedication he has changed the culture of San Diego’s South Bay in many respects for students and their families.

Giving Back Magazine: What is your background and how did you get to where you are today?

Lou Murillo: Like many first generation Latino college graduates, I am the product of immigrant parents. My father immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in 1917, first in Texas then he went with friends to Chicago to seek better employment. He worked in factories much of the 1920’s through 1930’s. On one of his return trips to Texas he met and later married my mom and then returned to Chicago. Although my parents never attended school, they always had high aspirations for me and my other siblings.
Ours was a Spanish speaking home so the first time I attended school, I was shocked that it was a totally English-speaking environment. One of the physical education teachers introduced me to basketball and my life changed forever. It was my love of basketball that kept me on the path to finish high school and aspire to attend college. My senior year in high school, our team made it to the final game of the Indiana State Basketball Tournament.
I attended Indiana State University and played basketball for a couple of years. I got my degree and eventually worked in the National Teacher Corps where I learned of the challenges of motivating diverse and poor students in urban settings to finish school and attend college. This experience became my life’s work over the last forty-five years.

GB: Tell us about your organization and some interesting statistics about what you do?

LM: I have had many wonderful experiences as an educator, teaching in elementary through the high school level. I have also been an administrator in several community colleges in both Michigan and California serving for five years as a president of a local community college. For the last seven years I have been the Director of Compact for Success at San Diego State University. This is a collaborationive effort between SDSU and the Sweetwater Union High School District which works with parents and students to show them the path to attend college. If students meet the established benchmarks, they are guaranteed admission to SDSU. Since 2006, more than 3,000 graduates of the SUHSD have enrolled at SDSU under this provision. When I first arrived at SDSU in 2007, the Hispanic student population was 21%, now we are a Hispanic Serving Institution and have a Hispanic student population of about 33%.

GB: Can you tell us about your unrealized projects?
LM: The Latino male college- bound student enrollment trends is alarmingly low compared to other ethnic/racial male counterparts. Although the Latino college population grew to be the largest minority student population in four-year colleges in 2011, the college attendance rate for Latino males continues to lag. As I approach retirement I would like to work with the education community and interested Latino community leaders to focus attention on this educational dilemma.

GB: What is your favorite quote?

LM: “If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach people.”
-Confucius, Chinese Philosopher

GB: How has Southwest Airlines helped you and your organization?

LM: Southwest Airlines (SWA) has been a real asset to my work at SDSU and as a Board Member of MANA de San Diego. One of our signature events for the SDSU Compact for Success is our Annual 7th Grade Campus Visit. SouthwestWA has provided support to recruit workshop presenters to these events. In my role as a board member of MANA de San Diego, I have witnessed the support that SWA provides to support field trips to Washington, D.C. and to Sacramento to expose our young Latinas to the political leaders and the legislative process. Thanks to SouthwestWA I believe that the MANA de San Diego organization is perhaps the largest and best organized chapter in the nation.