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Fifty and Still Flying

Cal Poly’s Educational Opportunity Program celebrates milestone anniversary

By Jarod Urrutia
Fifth-year student, Journalism

Counselors from Cal Poly’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a festive booth on Dexter Lawn featuring food, games and a photo booth for its students and supporters.

According to EOP counselor Cynthia Diaz, the celebration event not only honored the history and work of the program, but the people behind it as well.

“This program is huge, and we wanted to be sure to celebrate this together with our students and staff,” said Diaz. “It’s really important for the campus to get together and see our students be able to hang out in a setting that enjoyable.”

The program, which serves students who are historically, educationally or economically disadvantaged, was first established at Cal Poly in 1968. Dr. Everett Chandler, who served as Cal Poly’s Dean of Students at the time, personally brought together counselors, administrators and staff from Student Affairs and Academic Affairs to support an initial cohort of 22 students at the university. The following year, the California State Legislature earmarked funding to establish EOP throughout the state. 

To commemorate the milestone, all campus EOP programs gathered at CSU headquarters in Long Beach earlier this fall.

“It’s been a really big year for us,” said EOP applications coordinator Angela Marino. “All of the EOPs at the conference had to show the history of their program. It was really great getting to share all of our journeys for the last 50 years.”

Cal Poly’s EOP display included photos of EOP students and past events, program t-shirts and other promotional materials, and old Mustang Daily news clips, among other items.

The EOP was groundbreaking at the time for being the first program that helped students transition from living at home, to living on campus — especially first-generation college students. Today, Cal Poly’s EOP serves more than 600 eligible students.

“What’s significant about our anniversary is just how much it's a benefit to these students.” added EOP counselor Lyzette Martin. “When the Chancellor spoke at that conference, he spoke about how our students are pioneers. We’re really privileged to work for such a robust support system.”

Chandler’s legacy of staff collaboration for student success endures even today at Cal Poly. University Housing, for example, is an instrumental partner in providing on-campus housing accommodations for incoming first-time students participating in EOP’s Summer Institute, a three-week residential program focused on the transition from high school to college. The program offers social activities, connections with advisors and the opportunity to take six course units to get a head start on their first fall quarter at Cal Poly.

Several EOP campus partners also attended the program’s celebration on Dexter Lawn, including University Housing, Academic Advising, Career Services, TRIO and Cal Poly Scholars. 

“I’ve spoken with the students after they attend Summer Institute who say, ‘I am so incredibly thankful,’ and they really feel ready for college of going through that experience,” said Marino. “Being able to provide that kind of support for this long is truly an achievement.”

Make a difference for Cal Poly students who depend on programs like EOP with your support by visiting https://studentaffairs.calpoly.edu/givetoday/areas. For more information, please visit the EOP website.

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