For Sacramento City College students, the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services office has one main focus: counseling.
Each student has a specific counselor assigned to him or her. The three counselors in the EOPS office — Adam Freas, Sandy Ruedas, and Ken Times — are part of a team led by Irma Rodriguez.
They counsel students on everything from success and failure in their studies to personal private matters.
“A core aspect of it is counseling. I’m not the boss here, I’m faculty. Sandy, Ken, and Adam are all faculty, so we are laterals. We report to the dean of Financial Aid and Student Services,” Rodriguez says.
Working as a team, the four help students in the EOPS program succeed.
“I have had many students share with me their appreciation for Irma’s leadership and commitment to the EOPS program,” says Freas, who in addition to serving as a counselor is a Human Career Development Instructor.
“Whether it be making herself available to sit down with a student who is dealing with challenges to rallying the EOPS staff and students to speak at the capitol on behalf of EOPS and social justice efforts, I am honored to work with Irma, who embodies the spirit of many great social justice advocates of our time,” he adds.
“On the real, I often refer to Irma as a warrior,” Times says. “She is an exceptional leader for our EOPS program, our students and for myself and my colleagues. On a daily basis, Irma exhibits her extensive knowledge in program management and exemplary people skills.”
City College offers students numerous programs and opportunities to move forward through college and beyond. EOPS was designed with student success in mind, counselors and students say.
“Working with Irma Sandoval Rodriguez has been a true honor,” says Carlesha Maddox, office assistant for EOPS through the Federal Work Study Program. “She is well organized and dedicated. Irma is a magnificent role model in the workplace.”
EOPS is the only campus program that is aimed at full-time students, notes Rodriguez.
“I’m a product of what EOPS program is about. I’m a product of what education can do for you,” Rodriguez says with a bright smile.
Rodriguez takes a pause, then sighs, her face turning scarlet, and reaches for a nearby box of tissue.
“I make more in two months than my father made in an entire year,” she says, shedding tears. “Six thousand dollars my parents made, and to know that actually in a month and a week I make more than what my father made as a farmworker. I’m thinking he sacrificed so we can have an education.”
“I come to work every day. It’s ’cause I want to make a difference. I breathe and bleed EOPS, and I feel like had I not had this opportunity, I would have just taken that cannery application,” she says, recalling advice she received in high school.
“I would have settled for that because I thought we were farm workers. I was an English language learner, financially needy, always rich in love, never hungry, had beans and rice but never hungry. I feel I know what the power of transformation of education can do, and till the day I take my last breath, that’s what I want to do. I want to do this because I see myself in my students.”
Rodriguez dabs her eyes, absorbing her tears with the ivory colored tissue. She looks up with joy on her face and adds, “When it really hit me is when my son Andres was graduating high school, and he was filling out his college applications. I remember when I filled out my college application, I put my father has a third-grade education and my mother a sixth-grade education in Mexico. That’s what I put. My son, when my son was filling out his application, he put his father has a Ph.D. and his mother has a master’s.”
As the interview is ending, Rodriguez gathers herself and the materials needed for her next meeting and says, “Both parents Latino, first generation, English language learners, special action, our parent’s farm workers and factory workers. I took this breath and said, ‘Thank you God.’”