Access and Educational Equity

Educational Opportunity Program Gala to Recognize Alumni, Supporters

April 22, 2008

By Debra Cano Ramos

Cruz Reynoso, the first Chicano to serve on the California Supreme Court is keynote speaker for the April 29 Educational Opportunity Program Hall of Fame Scholarship Gala.

"Access and Educational Equity is a Right!" is the theme of the public program, part of the university's 50th anniversary celebration. The 5:30 p.m. event will be held in the Titan Student Union.

Reynoso was born in Brea to Mexican farm workers and grew up in a family of 11 children. As a youth, he worked in fruit orchards and later graduated from Pomona College and then earned a law degree from the UC Berkeley. Reynoso is recognized for his leadership in civil rights, immigration and refugee policy, government reform, the administration of justice, legal services for the indigent and education.

"The goal is to educate the campus community and public about the program, established more than 39 years ago to increase the access and academic success of California's first generation, educationally and economically disadvantaged college students," said Janette L. Hyder, an EOP counselor who proposed the idea for the event.

The gala will feature a reception, dinner and keynote presentation prior to induction of the first EOP Hall of Fame recipient. Three individuals will receive special awards and scholarships will be awarded to three current EOP students.

Cal State Fullerton alumnus Lawrence R. Labrado (B.A. ethnic studies '73), will be the first person inducted into the EOP Hall of Fame. Labrado, who once picked fruit as a migrant farm worker, now owns a tax preparation business and serves as an elected trustee on the Rancho Santiago Community College Board. He also served as Cal State Fullerton's Educational Opportunity Program coordinator and held several other positions during his 27-year tenure at the university. He retired from the university in 2000.

Other award recipients are: Educator of the Year - Jack Bedell, professor of sociology and chair of Anthropology; EOP Alumni of the Year - Therese Mosqueda-Ponce (B.S. human services '77) co-coordinator of Cypress College's Puente university preparation program; and Friends of EOP - Son Kim Vo, retired coordinator of Cal State Fullerton's Intercultural Development Center.

Individual event tickets are $75. Sponsorships and items for a silent auction are being sought. Funds raised will go toward a scholarship fund for first-generation, historically underrepresented college students.

"EOP students, most of whom have limited financial resources, continue to face increased costs to attend a university and earn a college degree. While EOP provides services and support, there is a great need for additional financial contributions to keep the program alive," said Hyder, who is an EOP alumna at Cal State Fullerton and first-generation college student.

Currently, there are about 2,000 students in the university's EOP program, including more than 500 freshman and community college transfer students, Hyder noted.

Hyder said that civil rights movements of the 1960s inspired many college students to play an active role in affecting changes within a system that created economic and social barriers. Poverty, discrimination and other socioeconomic barriers began to be linked to the lack of higher education opportunities for underrepresented and socially disadvantaged students. In April 1969, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 1072 (the Harmer Bill), which established EOP at the California state institutions of higher learning.

"The EOP Hall of Fame Gala Scholarship Dinner will begin to establish a stronger foundation with the community at large and educate individuals about the value of the contributions people of color make not only in higher education but in society at large," said Hyder, who also coordinates the Links Mentoring Program. The peer mentoring program offers career development, scholarships, education workshops and field trips for undergraduate students.

Hyder is the creator of the EOP mural project, a 50th anniversary project that ties in with the EOP Hall of Fame event. The mural, unveiled in September, reflects the struggles faced by students during the 1960s while fighting for civil rights and educational equity, said Hyder. The mural is on display outside the EOP Office, Room 143 of University Hall.

For tickets and information, call Janette L. Hyder at 278-3920 or

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