The Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) celebrated 45 years of dedicated service to students at California State University, Northridge on Tuesday, Sept. 16. Hundreds of CSUN community members participated in the event, which included food, games and prizes.
The EOP has much to be proud of as one of the leading programs in the CSU system, according to Director Jose Luis Vargas ’74 (Sociology).
“It occurs to me that what we do in EOP and higher education is incredibly important and continues to be the only thing that can sustain California as one of the better states in the country,” Vargas said.
With an average of 2,600 students each year, CSUN’s EOP has expanded dramatically since its beginnings in 1969 with just 90 students — one of whom was Vargas. The program has stayed true to its mission to assist students from low-income and immigrant backgrounds, Vargas said.
“Historically, it has done everything it can to preserve the original intentions of the program … EOP at CSUN is visionary, accommodating and resilient,” Vargas said.
A current member of EOP is finance major Edwin Lopez, who said that without the program, he would not have been successful in college.
“I was denied by the school and EOP gave me a second chance,” said Lopez, who started at CSUN in 2011 with a 2.1 GPA. He attributes his current GPA, which is over 3.5, to assistance from EOP.
“They prepared me for the fall. It’s a privilege,” he said, reflecting on his participation in the summer Residential Bridge program. “[EOP] helped me mature as an individual. They helped me achieve my goals.”
Marvin Villanueva ’05 (Child Development), director of the EOP in the College of Humanities and a former EOP student, said the mission of the program is true to assisting students who are in a position he once held.
“I love my job. I feel blessed,” Villanueva said. “I get up every morning looking forward to work.”
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Harry Hellenbrand reflected on the program’s work during a speech at Tuesday’s celebration.
“EOP has done wonderful things for the last 45 years,” he said. “You always have to hope and pray for a better day. Remain hopeful about changing the future.”