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In the Spotlight

Emily Andrade

Emily Andrade

Expected Graduation: 2015
Major: Criminal Justice
Minor: Sociology

Emily was raised in Watsonville, California and came to Sacramento State in the fall of 2011, as a first generation college student. She is currently a sophomore pursuing a major Criminal Justice, with a minor in Sociology.

In High School, Emily volunteered for the Watsonville Police Department as a Police Cadet for two years where she assisted in crime scene searches, assisted officers in the field, helped with clerical needs, directed traffic, and performed parking control for special events. Emily was recognized for her services and received numerous awards from several government agencies including the California State Assembly “Certificate of Recognition,” the City of Watsonville City Council “Certificate of Appreciation,” and “Certificate of Appreciation” from the Watsonville Police Department.

Some of Emily’s personal challenges as a college student has been searching to find financial support, as well as transitioning to her professors’ teaching styles in the classroom. Emily is not only an EOP Student but has been working as a student administrative assistant for the EOP office since Spring 2013.

Emily’s motivation to succeed has always been her parents, family and community. While growing up, she was aware of her parent’s financial struggles to provide for her and her family. This has motivated Emily to strive to graduate from college. Emily’s ultimate goal is to graduate with a Doctorate degree. Her passion is to become a police officer with an interest in investigations and wants to return to work in her Watsonville community. Emily would like to be a positive role-model and an advocate helping motivate youths from her community. She aspires to educate the youth of the opportunities of success in higher education that is available for them.


Jennifer Yang

Graduated: Spring 2015
Major: Ethnic Studies with a concentration in Asian American Studies

Jennifer was born and raised in Sacramento, California. Growing up, Jennifer witnessed her mother endure numerous challenges as a Hmong woman. Because of the lack of educational opportunities for women in Laos, her mother encouraged her to take advantage of the educational opportunities here in America. This inspiration was stir the drive for Jennifer to empower other Southeast Asian students, especially Hmong women, and influence them to break free from the traditional gender norms as they excel in their education.

As a first generation college student and the first in her family to go to college, Jennifer faced numerous challenges. She found support from equity programs such as Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and the Full Circle Project (FCP). These programs were a big part of her educational success because they focus on improving college access and graduation achievements of underserved students.

As a Peer Mentor for the Full Circle Project, Jennifer served as an academic peer advisor, a resource to the campus and community, and a mentor to first generations Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) college students. As an Ambassador with the California State University (CSU) AAPI Initiative Program for three years, Jennifer has reached out to underserved and at risk middle and high school students.

Through these programs, Jennifer has become aware of how the model minority myth has perpetuated the false belief that all AAPIs are academically advanced. She learned the value of providing students with supportive relationships with peers, faculty, staff and community. These programs taught Jennifer the importance of campus engagement through leadership programs, clubs, organizations and their community. Lastly, Jennifer’s educational and extracurricular experiences have helped her developed a better perspective on her personal experience regarding gender, social, and educational inequalities within underserved communities.

Jennifer will be continuing her education by perusing her master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania in Higher Education.


Esmeralda Mendoza

Year of graduation: Spring 2015
Hometown: Stockton CA
Major: Health Science
Concentration: Health Care Administration

I was born in San Jose CA, but raised in Stockton CA. I am the oldest out of seven and I am the first in my family to attend college. Being the oldest of my family has taught me the importance of working hard and setting a good example to my siblings. I decided to attend a four year university because I wanted to grow as an individual and create a strong foundation for my future. My parents have always been my biggest supporters and they have always pushed me to continue my education. I have always had an interest in working with health but wasn’t sure what field to go under. In high school I was an intern at Kaiser Permanente. Working at Kaiser Permanente helped me realize that the health filed was a lot larger than I imagined. My advisor at Kaiser Permanente was the health educator and she explained to me what public health was and how it affected the community. After that experience as an intern I realized that I wanted to work in Public Health and that I wanted to make a difference in a person’s access to care. As a student at Sacramento State I have volunteered at Imani Clinic which is located in Oak Park here in Sacramento. Oak Park is a community where many of its community members are low-income and many do not have access to health care. I meet a lot of patients who did not speak English and needed translators to get access to health. I worked side by side with the preceptors and helped translate the needs of these patients. At Imani Clinic we worked with UC Davis medical students and helped give health care to these people. I am currently as an intern at Women’s Health Specialists Clinic, I work with their outreach and education department. We go out to the community and promote female reproductive justice and promote the clinics services. As an EOP student I have meet great faculty and staff that have motivated me to continue my education and never give up. EOP has taught me that education is the key to success. I have grown as a student and as an individual in EOP. After I graduate from Sacramento State I want to obtain my Masters in public health and I want to continue volunteering in the community.


Damariye L. Smith

Year of Graduation: Spring 2014
Student's Hometown: Vallejo, Ca
Major/Minor: Communication Studies (Mass) Career Information: Program Assistant for the Educational Opportunity Program
Future Plans or Goals: College Professor in the field of Communication Studies; specifically focused on media and culture.

Damariye was born in Vallejo, California and came to Sacramento State in the fall of 2008, as a first generation college student. He is a recent graduate of the university and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Arts degree in Communication Studies at Sacramento State.

Damariye has made several accomplishments throughout his undergraduate career. He graduated with above a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and made the dean’s list in the fall of 2013. He has also been the recipient of multiple awards within his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, including the coveted, E. Lionel Davis Undergraduate Achievement Award, which is awarded to an undergraduate member within the western region of Kappa Alpha Psi for outstanding accomplishments within the community, fraternity and the campus community. Damariye has also been nominated for Student Leader of the year by the Student Organization and Leadership office.

Some of Damariye’s personal challenges were him being a first generation college student in his immediate family and not having any positive male role models.  With these deficiencies, Damariye had many early struggles throughout his undergraduate experience. However, after some self-evaluation and connecting with different mentors via his fraternity, he quickly surrounded himself with the high level achievers and began to understand how to achieve in college like he did in high school.

While an undergraduate Damariye served his fraternity nationally as an undergraduate leader, as well as locally in various roles. Additionally, he has served as the president of the Black Greek Council on campus, the secretary for the Cooper-Woodson College Enhancement program and is instrumental in the foundation of the Male Empowerment Collaborative Student Association.

Damariye plans on pursuing a doctoral degree in Communication Studies, with an emphasis on media and culture, and wants to become a professor and teach in order to have more diversity amongst the faculty in higher education. 

As an EOP student, Damariye is a prime example of the success level of the EOP program and how the program can help propel low-income and first generation students to be successful.


Vilailuk Her

Year of Graduation: Spring 2014
Major: Social Work
Future Plans: Master of Social Work

My name is Vilailuk Her and I just graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work.  I am currently the Program Assistant for Full Circle Project and was an Orientation Leader for three summers and I was a Care Teacher at the Children’s Center.  This fall, I will be starting the two year Master of Social Work Program here and continue to work for Full Circle Project along my internship. After earning my Master’ degree, I plan to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  Last but not least, I cannot imagine not having EOP being my home base as I continue my higher education here at Sac State.  “Once and EOP, always an EOP” Quoted by the EOP Advisors.