On Thursday, the Educational Opportunity Program at San Diego State began its annual Transfer Bridge student orientation. This is the fourth year in a row the program has been directed by Dr. Reginald Blaylock.
For students, the program consists of a full four days of events that include guest lectures; workshops and team-building exercises designed to help indoctrinate the students to university services and student culture.
“The program is designed to help students that aren’t accustomed to university life get their bearings on campus and understand the services it offers,” Eddie Vasquez, lead mentor and student assistant for the Transfer Bridge Program, said. “At the same time, we’re taking away some of the nervousness and anxieties of being in such a large place by introducing the students to each other and making them interact and discover the campus together.”
Vasquez, a senior studying comparative literature and a member of the university’s Ambassadors, has worked closely with EOP Retention Coordinator Robert Guzman, who is directing this year’s Transfer Bridge Program. Vasquez, who was a part of the last three transfer programs, said the program is a “total team effort.”
“Every EOP counselor and employee puts time into this in one way or another, it’s a lot of hard work and long days but you know it’s worth it when the students start having fun and relaxing,” Vasquez said. “They start really enjoying being on campus and that’s the whole idea.”
The program utilizes student mentors to proctor the students through the four-day process while EOP counselors and staff coach the students through the various workshops including tutoring and career services, financial aid and scholarships, and a detailed orientation of the university’s extensive library, which can often be a daunting place for new students.
“I was intimidated about being in such a big place, but I definitely feel more comfortable now,” Rachel Mark, a criminal justice junior, said.
EOP found its roots during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when Mexican and African-American students attending California State University Los Angeles began looking at various social and economic barriers that restricted access to higher education for minority groups. In 1967 the students formed the United Mexican American Student Association and the Black Student Association.
In 1969, Senate Bill 1072, known as the “Harmer Bill,” was passed in the California Legislature, which established the EOP program at CSU campuses across California.
Now, 42 years later, SDSU boasts the largest EOP program of all the CSU campuses.
When asked if the EOP mission had changed throughout the years, Blaylock responded, “Our students have changed, and the ways that students obtain information is much more dynamic now. It’s incredible, the Internet and computers and everything they have is different, so we’ve had to change too, to meet those needs, but the mission is still the same; We’re here to ensure these students have every opportunity to succeed so that they can go back and be leaders and make a difference in their communities.”