Iana Jones never thought she would go to college. That was until she arrived at California State University, Northridge’s Educational Opportunity Program’s Residential Bridge this summer.
Because of a learning disability, the 19-year-old from Inglewood had struggled in school most of her life. Her single mom was unable to help her with college expenses. However, EOP has helped the incoming freshman “visualize” a future in academia.
“I just didn’t think it was possible, but this has helped me believe I can be successful,” Jones said. “Now, I feel like I have support.”
She is one of about 500 first-time freshmen who participated in EOP’s transitional programs this summer. Their freshman programs include Residential Bridge, Commuter Bridge and FreshStart. This summer, EOP also offered two smaller programs to transfer students and second-year EOP students. All the programs are free and include special orientation workshops or classes that expose the students to the demands of college; provide the tools needed to successfully navigate these demands; create a community of learners and critical thinkers; develop support systems and student advocates; and instill pride in their rich heritage and appreciation for their diversity.
Jones was among nearly 140 first-time freshmen who for six weeks lived in campus dorms, ate in the cafeteria, visited the library and other facilities, and took college classes for credit this summer. She will continue taking classes as a member of the bridge long-term learning community for three semesters.
“Our programs have the capacity to change peoples lives,” said Glenn Omatsu, faculty in Asian American studies and a longtime lecturer in the EOP’s transition program. “We help students move forward in their lives.”
He said EOP students are successful, in part, because of the mentoring and values like “RRAM: respect, responsibility, attitude and maturity” that are instilled in the participants.
Cal State Northridge has one of the oldest and most respected Educational Opportunity Programs in the CSU system. It has been providing programs that have improved access and the retention of historically low-income and educationally disadvantaged students since 1969. The program provides admission and academic assistance to EOP-eligible undergraduate students. In many cases, the program offers financial assistance to eligible students. Campuses tailor their programs to accommodate the needs of their student population.
At CSUN, once admitted through EOP, students are eligible to enroll in an EOP transition program to strengthen their math, reading or other skills. Students are placed within a community of mentors and receive counseling, tutoring and academic advisement.
Yesmene Lopez, an 18-year-old freshman from Upland, Calif., said the EOP Residential Bridge program made her feel like she was part of a community.
“I never had a community,” said Lopez. “I feel like I can be successful.”