To Art Medina, an access and retention advisor for the Educational Opportunity Program, CSULB is about people.
“EOP is a job that demands plenty of people skills,” said Medina, a member of CSULB’s class of 2001 with a bachelor of arts in anthropology, and an employee since that same year. “Networking is the key, whether that means linking up with various student organizations or getting to know various departments. If Student Life and Development offers leadership training, I connect with them.”
Coming from a student background himself, Medina is able to anticipate the needs of undergraduates who may be the first in their families to seek a university degree. “I wish I’d taken advantage of EOP when I first transferred here from Long Beach City College,” said Medina, a Long Beach resident and graduate of Millikan High School. “As it is, I’m very grateful to Bruce Vancil in University Outreach and School Relations for all his help in transferring here. I grew up in Long Beach and I love the community enough to want to stay.”
Medina is a busy man. An average day can include visiting several high schools and attending an hours-long meeting. “Plus, I’m involved in several Pacific Islander community non-profits in Los Angeles and Orange Counties,” said Medina, who came to Long Beach in 1981 from his first home in Guam. “I am the vice president of NPIEN, or the National Pacific Islander Educator Network. We’ve hosted several conferences that brought to campus such speakers as the congressional representative and governor of American Samoa.”
It is the potential for changing lives that brings Medina to campus every day. “Being a transfer student, I know the importance of access to university resources,” he said. “There are students here who may not have any idea of what a university is really about and they are the ones who need access the most. For instance, I recently spoke to a high school student who was president of her local Pacific Islander club who hadn’t even considered CSULB. After speaking to her, we’re on her list when she hadn’t even thought about us before.”
Among his responsibilities are such popular EOP-sponsored programs as CSULB 101. “We invite six area high schools on our caseloads to campus to help them with their university applications,” he said. “In fact, when we had a group here recently from Huntington Park, we showed them the Japanese Garden and there were students who decided on CSULB right on the spot.” He stresses the importance of new students becoming involved in campus activities and the role EOP has in getting them there. “I’m working with University Outreach right now on organizing an Achievement Via Individual Determination (AVID) conference aimed at students from historically low-income backgrounds. This is a program that helps students enroll in the university and helps them take the right classes to prepare.”
Medina is proud of helping to make a difference in the lives of many first-generation CSULB students. “If I could speak to all the new students who might be helped by EOP, I’d say they need to make use of the many resources available to them,” he said. “That’s the way we can help them reach their full potential. EOP is here to help them.”—Manly is the senior writer in the Office of Public Affairs and Publications.