College of Marin (COM) celebrated the accomplishments of graduates, transfer students, and scholarship recipients on Thursday, June 4th, during the sixth annual, first ever virtual EOPS (Extended Opportunity Programs and Services) Award Ceremony. The ceremony was attended by nearly 100 people and received tremendous feedback from students and guests.
Becky Reetz, Director of COM’s EOPS, CARE and CalWORKs programs at COM, recognized the difficulties in making this event happen, saying, “many colleges around the state cancelled or postponed end of year events due to COVID-19. But COM felt now, more than ever, it was critical to honor the accomplishments of students and recognize the incredible challenges they overcame to reach their goals.”
The EOPS Program at College of Marin is a state funded program that strives to create a supportive educational environment to honor the complex needs of diverse students with the goal of providing additional services and funding to educationally and economically disadvantaged students to help them reach their educational goals, including program-specific scholarships, funding for school supplies, and career and academic counseling.
Many COM students struggle financially due to the cost of living in Marin County, but are armed with great resilience and show a fierce dedication to getting their education in order to better their own lives, their families lives, and contribute to the mission of social justice. The awards ceremony pays tribute to the many hard-working EOPS students.
“I was awarded the EOPS scholarship in 2018, and at the time I had 3 jobs, so it was hard to manage school and work with such commitments,” said Odaiclet Piccinini, EOPS scholarship recipient. “This scholarship was an enormously needed financial help for me, allowing me to reduce my workload and help me focus on my schoolwork. Without the financial help of EOPS, I would have struggled to cover the basic needs that a community college student has.”
In addition to the usual challenges of attending college, students this semester faced unprecedented difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This last semester, students contended with job loss making paying for rent and basic necessities worrisome, had a lack of resources such as access to WiFi and personal computers for their online classes, and juggled to care for and teach children who were also staying at home. “After we transitioned to online courses, EOPS was very communicative and interested in learning if I was safe,” said Oda. “They continued holding counseling appointments, responded to my emails promptly, and sent regular emails sharing resources with information about food banks, the stimulus check, and COM-care reports for students who required basic-needs items and money for food.”
Since its inception in 1969 as one of the original equity programs from the Civil Rights Movement, the EOPS program has expanded to provide over and above services for low-income, first-generation, underrepresented students. It has impacted the lives of literally millions of community college students across the state of California. The state’s program celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2019. In joint resolutions, COM’s EOPS was recognized by local lawmakers, Assemblymember Mark Levine and State Senator Mike McGuire, as well as COM’s Board of Trustees honoring the program.
COM is grateful for donations received from COM’s alumni, retirees, community members, and one of their biggest supporters, the Emeritus Students of College of Marin (ESCOM). Locally, donations to the College of Marin EOPS program have directly supported thousands of students in reaching their educational goals successfully of graduating and/or transferring to a four-year university to continue their education.
For more information about EOPS at College of Marin, email EOPS@marin.edu. To support students in the program through scholarships or other means, visit https://marin.secure.nonprofitsoapbox.com/giving and designate your gift to the EOPS / CalWORKs program.