Student Voices - EPOCHS: Enhancing Postbaccalaureate Opportunities at California State University Fullerton for Hispanic Students

The EPOCHS program provides services to Latino/a graduate students and activities to improve campus climate and improve retention and graduation rates. In 2009, though 33% of undergraduate students at CSUF self-identified Hispanic (consistent with regional demographics), only 15% of graduate students were Hispanic. Achievement gap existed for Hispanic grad students: Hispanics had lower graduation rates and disparately high percentage on academic probation and disqualification.  EPOCHS’ services to students include: new grad student orientation with Spanish workshops for families, grad student handbook, bilingual English/Spanish newsletter, tutoring and academic skills workshops, graduate student assistant program, faculty/grad student mentoring program, and grants to support grad student research. EPOCHS’ activities to improve campus climate: faculty advisor workshops on cultural competency (faculty is 66% white) and outreach activities (events, workshops, tabling) with community groups (high schools, community colleges, non-profits). EPOCHS is designed and marketed for Latino/a students, but its services are open to all students. Managed from the Graduate Studies Office, EPOCHS is well integrated into the Office’s daily operations, and has built partnerships in Student Affairs, IT, Human Resources, and Faculty Affairs. 

The overarching goal is to increase the number of Latino/a students who achieve a master’s degree at CSU Fullerton by increasing enrollment and improving persistence and graduation rates. EPOCHS’ meets goals with pervasive, campus-wide student support services (new grad student orientation, tutoring, workshops, handbook) and engagement activities (faculty mentoring, community outreach, graduate assistantships, grants, bilingual newsletter), plus improved campus culture in faculty training on cultural competency and issues of inclusion in higher education.