EOP gives recognition to trailblazing students from 1968
Students, alumni, faculty and staff of the CSUN Educational Opportunity Program gathered around the Ralph Prator Sundial Fountain to unveil the memorial plaque in honor of the students who fought for justice on campus in the late 1960s.
EOP supports students of any ethnic background in their quest to succeed and gives students a place at universities. It provides low-income, first-generation students with assistance in applying for the EOP program, financial support, mentoring and other services.
Glenn Omatsu, professor of Asian American studies and mentor for EOP low-income freshmen, said that students themselves founded both Asian American studies and EOP.
“Asian American studies is part of [the] ethnic studies [program] that was founded by students. It’s not founded by administrators. It’s not founded by faculty,” Omatsu said. “I feel blessed, because the very fact that I am in these programs is because students founded those programs.”
José Luis Vargas, director of EOP and former CSUN student from 1968, said the program has grown from the time he began his education, from 150 students to more than 2,600.
“EOP was designed to give people hope to know that it is possible to go to a university and achieve your dreams,” Vargas said.
Omatsu and Vargas unveiled the plaque, which is dedicated to the students who did not stop until their demands were heard of increasing diversity and fostering inclusive programs. The plaque gives a recognition for the sacrifices students made.
There is an illustrated picture of people holding up signs demanding equal educational opportunities and under that image is an appreciation note to Professor Omatsu for his contribution to make the plaque.
Warren Furumoto, former biology professor at CSUN, traveled from Hawaii to California to attend the EOP Trailblazers event to give recognition to those students who marched their way to the creation of EOP.
“I consider them to be the real heroes,” Furumoto said.
Susana Amezcua, former EOP student, graduated in spring 2015 with a double major in chicano studies and sociology. She said she felt comfortable and welcomed by EOP in a way that made her feel that she did deserve to be at CSUN.
Amezcua said she faced struggles being a woman of color among white students whom professors would prefer just because they did not have an accent.
Amezcua is enrolled at UCLA and pursuing a master’s degree in teaching education and obtaining teaching credentials in math.
“EOP helped me to start letting go of those bad habits of staying quiet and just sitting in the back, not participating, and not taking an active role in my education,” Amezcua said.
Bryan Cervantes, freshman and current EOP student, said his plan before college was to obtain a degree and be done. But after hearing Amezcua’s inspiring story, he felt motivated to achieve more than just a bachelor’s degree.
“After coming here, I am more grateful to actually be here. Just knowing that they actually marched for us makes me want to take advantage of this program and not take them for granted,” Cervantes said.