The Palo Verde College (PVC) Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) leadership is applauding a recognized student who has demonstrated excellence in academic and career pursuits for the 2019 year.

As selected by the California Community College EOPS Association (CCCEOPSA), PVC’s program was one of 115 respective higher learning institutions to bestow a scholarship award to the local collegiate pupil.

Presented and honored in front of attending friends and father at the CCCEOPSA’s Oct. 22 Annual Statewide Conference – which celebrated its 50-year semi-centennial – PVC’s own Veronica Mercedes Muñoz was the recipient of the $750 scholarship.

“I have been slowly chipping away at my Alcohol and Drug Studies (ADS) I and II certificates. I decided to turn my life around after getting an 11-year prison sentence. It was during this time I knew I would make the best drug and alcohol counselor, with more than 25 years (of) hands on experience,” stated Muñoz’s speech. “On June 1, 2019, I made six years clean and sober. Yes, I have overcome heroin addiction. I was also able to shave time off my sentence by training and becoming a certified wildland firefighter and a student for Palo Verde College. Preparing for my ADS Drug and Alcohol Achievement Award, which I have yet to finish my internship class (for). I want to say, upon my release in 2017, arriving on PVC campus has been a challenge within itself. I arrived with an earned default in financial aid. But with the help of EOPS, I have been able to continue my education. Not only with EOPS providing me with the textbooks that I have needed, but the time all the counselors have invested in me to figure out exactly the schedule to make my education smooth. Hats off to the Director of EOPS/CARE, (Maria) Machi Rivera who always has a kind word, and encouraging advice no matter what time of day it is. I personally approached Ms. Machi Rivera and she never turned me away. She always listens to me, very attentively, never making me feel like my concerns are a bother. Whether it was my personal problems or a problem I had concerning my academic studies, I was heard. Thanks EOPS, I could not have done this without you.”

The EOPS staff and leaders at PVC provide services, tools and guidance to students in a collective effort to mitigate and overcome various challenges – to include language, social, and/or economic barriers.

“The purpose of the program is to encourage the enrollment and retention of students who have unfavorable factors such as low success with prior educational experiences,” states EOPS/CARE (Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education) purpose statement. “EOPS is recognized as a state funded categorical program that provides innovative methods to shape the direction of the population it serves. What makes this program so special is the level of commitment devoted to student well-being. For a three year period (6 semesters), students are embraced and guided on a pathway to success. Each of the mentors/counselors on this team is specialized and well trained to provide students with resources, guidance, leadership, and comfort to reaching their full potential.”

Earlier this year, on April 25, Muñoz was also one of three students to provide keynote speeches and be recognized at the post-2019 EOPS/CARE Completion Ceremony’s dinner at the campus Francis “Ted” Arneson Fine & Performing Arts Theater patio.

“I will use this (CCCEOPSA) scholarship money to further my studies and complete my AA in Behavioral Science. Allowing me to live easier, being able to provide my basic needs will let me focus on my goals,” stated Muñoz. “EOPS, I thank you very much for believing in me, and giving me this opportunity. Hats off the EOPS department.”

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