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Seniors celebrated at EOP event

Marina Rico, the youngest of seven siblings, grew up in an agricultural area of Monterey County. Her parents did not finish the second grade.

The school system failed to inspire her to continue her education, but at the last minute she enrolled EOP logoin the local community college. With assistance from support programs at Hartnell College, she transferred to CSU Monterey Bay two years later and was admitted into the university’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).

Like most first-generation college students, she had no one to help her navigate the university. However, in EOP, “I got a lot of personal support from people who believed in my ability to continue my education. I never felt judged about where I came from.” Rico said.

She took advantage of the services EOP offered, and on May 2, she and 63 other students will be honored at the sixth annual Educational Opportunity Program and TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) Senior Celebration.

It’s just the first celebration Rico will attend. At the May 16 Honors Convocation, she’ll receive this year’s Alumni Vision Award, given to a member of the graduating class who exemplifies CSUMB’s vision of diversity, academic excellence and service. The next day, she’ll be awarded a bachelor’s degree in psychology at commencement.

TRiO logoEOP and SSS are designed to support and retain low-income and educationally disadvantaged students in their pursuit of a college degree. Services include academic advising, peer mentoring and support, academic and personal development workshops, and cultural enrichment activities.

All are intended to help students realize their potential and create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.

Like Rico, most EOP and SSS participants are the first in their families to attend a university. They face more challenges – socially, economically and academically – than traditional students. Despite the additional obstacles, the retention rate for EOP and SSS students has consistently exceeded the retention rate of the total CSUMB student population.

“EOP helped me to believe in myself,” Rico said. And that was all she needed.