Educational Opportunity Program helps first-generation students

By Alexis Parra
Flapjack staff

The Educational Opportunity Program, more commonly known as EOP, at Humboldt State University has been helping educationally and economically disadvantaged students since 1969. The program helps disadvantaged students succeed during and after college. The EOP house can be found on the Humboldt State University campus in Hadley House 56.

EOP Director, Dan Saveliff, has worked with the program for 35 years after he graduated from Humboldt State. He decided that he wanted to work in the EOP office after he saw how much fun some employees were having on the roof of the Hadley House.

“I wasn’t an EOP student so I didn’t know what this house was,” he said. “I saw people sitting on the roof while I was walking to class and they busted out in laughter and I thought to myself that that looks like a fun place to work.”

Saveliff shared how EOP came about and the full purpose of the program. EOP was created by California lawmakers in 1969 much in the response to the Civil Rights movement in California that was happening at the time.

“Protests were breaking out on college campuses, specifically about the lack of access and inequity of access for under-represented people of color getting into the system,” he said. “EOP was created to provide that access.”

Saveliff believes that the true purpose of EOP is to provide access to the CSU for low-income and first-generation students. The key thing about EOP is to give access to a college-education to students who might not have come if it wasn’t through the help of EOP.

To get into EOP, students need to fill out an application and submit with a letter of recommendation.

Tania Maren, Humboldt State Alumni and EOP Admissions and Summer Bridge Coordinator, reviews applications. Maren worked as a student assistant for EOP for five years, then as an admissions assistant for two years, and has now been a coordinator for one year.

Maren believes that EOP plays a big role in students’ transitions into Humboldt State and relates to that because of the fact that she came to school here from Calexico, California. Her EOP mentor and employers were her support system when she needed one and she values that EOP offers this to all of its students.

“I like to see my students grow,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll be complaining that there is nothing to do here, but other times they are also appreciative that there isn’t much of a distraction for them to go out.”

Maren appreciates the fact that classroom sizes at Humboldt State University are small. This allows students to create a one-on-one relationship with their faculty.

Although Maren has so many favorite memories with EOP, she was able to narrow it down to her top one.

“It was an EOP graduation ceremony,” she said. “I was struggling a lot with my science classes…and I was getting to that point where I wanted to go home.” She had the help from her EOP employer Tracy, and graduated as a communications major. During the EOP graduation ceremony they put out a questionnaire and one of the questions was: “What was that ah-ha moment for you?” Her ah-ha moment was when she fell in love with learning all over again.

Each EOP student is given an advisor to help them transition into the college-life. Each student has to meet with their advisor once a month until their second semester of their second year of college then they move onto their faculty advisor. Even thought they no longer have monthly meetings, their EOP advisor is always there for any help the student needs. EOP advisors start calling their students as soon as the summer before their first semester in college to help with class registration, making sure they have housing, and lots more.

Roger Wang, originally from Los Altos, California and a Humboldt State alumnus, is the EOP advisor for students who major in either arts or humanities. Wang has only been working as an EOP advisor for a year and two months.

“My job as an EOP advisor is to help these first-generation students who come from low-income backgrounds, not only get to college but be successful, and plan for what they want to do after they get their degree,” he said.

Wang believes that the biggest thing EOP has to offer is the fact that there is always someone that is looking out for you even beyond their college career at Humboldt State University.

Something that Saveliff, Maren, and Wang all have in common is that if they could change anything about EOP, it would be that they would have more funding to either give out to EOP students in need of it. EOP has a grant that is only prioritized to first-year students and transfer students. Whatever is left over from that is later dispersed to other EOP students who weren’t prioritized. At the moment the most a student will get from the grant is $1,000 and they hope to raise that number along with helping more students.

 

 

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