College costs are to no one’s surprise on the rise, and Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) at COC can help offset some of those out of pocket expenses.
EOPS is dedicated to recruit and successfully retain college students of educationally and socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. The primary purpose of the EOPS program is to prepare students to transfer to a four-year university, complete an Associate’s Degree or earn a vocational certificate in order to acquire desirable career-related skills to obtain rewarding employment as a result of their educational experience.
Services provided by EOPS include registration assistance, academic counseling, and tutoring and transfer information. The CARE program is an extension of EOPS for single parents/heads of household receiving CalWORKS/TANF, who have at least one child under the age of 14. The services provided are, transportation, parking permits, books, supplies and meal tickets.
Most students start at community college with no idea how the system works and what classes they need to take to complete their degree. A valuable part of the EOPS program is that you meet with a counselor at the beginning of the semester to go over your educational plan and take part in a mid-semester progress report. At the end of the semester you review you progress and go over what classes you will need for the next semester to help keep you on track.
April Reardon was taking classes at COC but had no real sense of direction. Then she got pregnant with her son and knew she needed to get through school more than ever. The financial aid office had referred her to the EOPS office and according to Reardon, “my life was changed forever.” EOPS Director Dr. Pamela Brogdon-Wynne welcomed Reardon with open arms, and became her go-to person whenever she needed some guidance.
The additional support of EOPS provided helped her finish her associated degree, and continued her education to achieved her master degree. Reardon’s strong passion for this program has brought her back to COC to work at the EOPS office so she can help others finish college and start a career. With the extra guidance she can provide from her own personal experience she hopes to inspire someone’s life, just the way Dr. Brogdon-Wynne did hers.
Reardon didn’t always know that she wanted to be a college guidance counselor. After finishing her Associates degree in Kiniesiology, she transferred to CSUN and realized this is not what she wanted to do.
When Reardon was at COC in the EOPS program, Dr. Brogdon-Wynne asked Reardon to become a peer adviser. She loved the interaction with the students by being able to help guide them in the right direction. Once at CSUN she had difficulty getting classes and missed being a peer adviser. At that point she decided to transfer to the University Center and earn a degree in Counseling.
Dr. Brogdon-Wynne was inspired by a workshop she attended at West LA College and the workshop was about students and community college. What she learned at this workshop is that African American students and Hispanic students sometimes take 7-10 years to complete an Associates degree. Which is only a two-year degree.
This started the fire in Dr. Brogdon-Wynne passion for her students and her dedication to help these students to achieve their goals in getting their lives back on track. This is why she became an EOPS counselor and then moving up to be director.
Another factor that played into the director’s career choice was that a majority of the EOPS students were and still are first-generation college students. This is what pulled on Dr. Brogdon-Wynne’s heartstrings and started her devotion to helping students who are lost get back on the right track. Dr. Pamela was also a single mother while finishing her Doctorate degree so she knows how challenging life can get.
“I owe my completion of my education along with my career to the EOPS office, I was lost in life and they welcomed me and help me through academic counseling and my own personal advisement as well,” said Reardon.
A current returning EOPS student Natalie Simo is a single mother with two boys who are 4 and 5 years old. Before having her children she worked in retail and really enjoyed it. But once she became pregnant with her first son she quickly realized she needed to make some life changes. Working long hours and odd schedules was going to leave her little to no time with her kids. Simo came back to school as an EOPS/Care student and began to enjoy her education experience to get her life back on track.
Not only are Simo’s worries of how to pay for school taken care of she also picked up a part time job on campus at the Sustainability office. Simo is just one of the many students on the list of success stories involving the EOPS program.
With the change in the economy, young adults are finding harder and harder to make a living with out a college degree. Thankfully though, the EOPS program is just one of the many ways COC assists students.
According to Reardon, “If it were not for state funded programs like these many students would not be able to pursue their dreams.”
The EOPS office is located in Canyons Hall and is open Monday – Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m and on Fridays at 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. They can also be reached over the phone at (661) 362-3279.