EPC celebrates a decade of academic preparation and college access

Carrol Moran, executive director of the Educational Partnership Center, introduces Maricela Maldonado, a UCSC senior, at the EPC's 10th Anniversary Celebration.
Five of EPC's founders accepted awards at the EPC 10th anniversary. From left, J. Michael Thompson, Francisco Hernandez, Joyce Justus, Martin Chemers, and Karl Pister. Maricela Maldonado is pictured on the screen behind, front with a red sweatshirt, as a third grader visiting UCSC in 1999. (Photographs by Guy Lasnier)
Kids Around the University featured third graders from Aromas Elementary School in 1999.

Thirteen years ago, before the founding of UCSC's Educational Partnership Center, Maricela Maldonado was eight years old and a third grader at Aromas Elementary School.

She visited UCSC as part of Kids Around the University, an experience that made a lasting impression. "It was a tremendous step for me," Maldonado remembered Friday. From then on, "college was always in my mind."

Maldonado, now a fourth-year math major with a goal of obtaining a Ph.D. in education, recalled her visit as the EPC celebrated 10 years of making college more than a dream, of making it a reality for thousands of students like her in the Monterey Bay and Silicon Valley regions.

"If it wasn't for (EPC), I wouldn't be here today," Maldonado said, noting that no one in her family had completed junior high. Today, she also works at EPC.

The EPC continued and expanded the concept of Kids Around the University - giving younger students a glimpse at the possibility of college. It coordinates academic preparation efforts in area schools with the goal of increasing access to college for students from low-income and traditionally non-college-going families.

Friday's ceremony at University Center honored EPC's six founders and 12 individuals and organizations that are partners with the center. Carrol Moran, EPC's executive director since its inception, thanked the founders, calling them her mentors. Also attending were 150 former students, partners, parents, faculty members and founders.

In opening remarks, Chancellor George Blumenthal said the "vision and leadership" of the founders was "paramount to establishing the center as well as sustaining and expanding its programs and services." He said he hopes the innovative academic preparation program can be replicated elsewhere.

Founders include Chancellor Emeritus Karl Pister; Martin Chemers, professor of psychology, Francisco Hernandez, former vice chancellor of student affairs, now vice chancellor for students, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Joyce Justus, former vice president for educational relations at the UC Office of the President; and J. Michael Thompson former associate vice chancellor, enrollment management, now CEO of Xap Corp. The sixth founder, former chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood, was unable to attend.

Since 1998, the percentage of high school graduates from EPC's five original partner schools who enroll at a UC campus has doubled and now exceeds the statewide average.

Since its inception, EPC has also doubled the numbers of underrepresented students from Monterey Bay Area partner schools who apply to, are accepted, and enroll in UC or CSU schools.

The EPC's partners are area schools, corporations and foundations. Recipients of its 2009 Partner Awards are:

  • Dan Aldrich, statewide director, COSMOS and interim vice chancellor of advancement, UC Riverside;

  • Alan Brown, retired director of engineering, Lockheed and MESA volunteer;

  • Cisco Systems and Cisco Foundation;

  • College Access Foundation of California, represented by Jay Sherwin, vice president for programs;

  • Penny Edgert, ARCHES and California Education Roundtable ICC;

  • Martha Kanter, chancellor, Foothill-De Anza Community College District;

  • Dan Moser, assistant superintendent of instruction, East Side Union High School District;

  • Ylda Nogueda, assistant superintendent, Pajaro Valley Unified School District;

  • Jaye Padgett, chair, Committee on Educational Policy, UCSC;

  • Rosa Perez, chancellor, San Jose-Evergreen Community College District;

  • Bakthan Singaram, professor of chemistry, UCSC;

  • Kari Yeater, associate superintendent, program improvement and secondary instruction, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.