Raised in Compton, Oscar Espinoza has always appreciated the values and opportunities
in his community. In high school, Oscar's parents and counselors encouraged him to
take the SATs and apply to institutions statewide. But Oscar knew he had the best
resources for practical training, industry experts, and student support in his own
"I wanted to choose a small college where I could develop strong relationships with my professors and get hands-on support," says Oscar, who is currently pursuing a master's degree at Johns Hopkins University with the goal of becoming a NASA engineer.
After Oscar graduated high school, he joined the Air Force as an Aircraft Mechanic, where he spent the next four years on active duty with his platoon. When Oscar left the military, he knew he wanted to continue his career development in an environment with a similar structure that could offer hands-on training, readily available mentors, and a community of friends.
"It was difficult for me to put my education on hold when my friends were starting college and new jobs," explains Oscar. "But earning my degree at Compton College made it worth it."
Oscar chose Compton College because of its affordable rates and the variety of classes offered. For transfer students like Oscar who want to pursue a four-year degree, going to Compton College was an easy decision. In 2019, Oscar earned an associate degree for transfer in physics. Along the way, he took advantage of student resources like the STEM Center, which introduced him to a student community with similar career goals.
"I appreciated my STEM advisor, Lorena Fonseca, and the student community," Oscar explains. "We worked together throughout the semester, which made my program even more rewarding."
Compton College offers more than 40 degree and certificate programs to prepare students for direct entry into in-demand careers. Students gain practical training on industry-standard equipment with a curriculum designed by qualified professionals.
Oscar's favorite class was part of a calculus series taught by mathematics professor Jose Villalobos. Over the semester, calculus became less of an abstract theory and more a daily tool he could use to solve problems in the real world.
"Professor Villalobos rewarded students who earned a high average throughout the semester with a pass to skip the final exam," Oscar explains. "That helped me understand that education is not only about how high you score but how to apply what you've learned."
Completing prerequisite classes toward an engineering degree was challenging for Oscar, but he is grateful for his experiences at Compton College. Oscar's STEM cohort advanced his study skills, supported his career development, and expanded his network with reliable and industry-driven peers.
Today, Oscar is finishing his master's degree in space systems engineering at John Hopkins University while working as a systems engineer at Raytheon Technologies, one of the largest aerospace and defense manufacturers in the world.
To students interested in taking the next step in their career, Oscar says go for it. "Explore the courses, reach out to students, and look beyond what meets the eye," Oscar explains.