Christopher Shephard with Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco at an event which encouraged youth to continue with their educational and vocational careers.
Christopher Shephard started CSULB as a full-time student and continued either as a full-time or part-time student until he graduated in 1995 with a bachelor of arts degree in black studies. Shephard continued with his studies and received a second bachelor's in information technology from DeVry University in 2002.
Through his job, Shephard became a part of a fellowship program that accepted only 16 students. Through this federally funded program, Shephard was awarded a scholarship for a master's degree in executive business management at Minot State University, which he completed in 2004.
Below, Christopher talks about how his career started during his time attending CSULB:
During my time at CSULB, I participated in tutoring sessions at Compton College. I was responsible for tutoring elementary school kids in math and English or whatever they would bring to the sessions. I had no idea that I would later be responsible for the educational and vocational development of at-risk youth.
I have worked for several Job Corps contractors and participated on successful contract bidding teams for contracts worth more than $100 million. After working with Job Corps contractors, I was soon hired by the Department of Labor Education and Training Administration and started working out of the San Francisco regional office.
I became part of a team that is responsible for overseeing contracts in Alaska, Hawaii, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. My responsibility is to ensure students are receiving educational services based on the contractual agreements, as well as receiving vocational services for job placement. The total sum of these contracts is well over $900 million. I have a very vital role in ensuring that the federal government's money is spent appropriately toward the inner-city youth and at risk youth of America.
I also attend special honorary engagements that are supported by mayors and various political figures and speak to youth about the importance of education and vocational skills. It has been a journey.
I look forward to working with the EOP department in the near future. We must engage in new ideas and concepts geared toward offering EOP students first-hand information. Being able to assist EOP students in advancing their education, job placement and networking capabilities is a necessity to catapult the EOP families and las familias of all cultures toward the future.
What do you believe assisted you in achieving the success you have today?
I could not have achieved the success that I have today if I did not have the support from immediate family members, close friends and EOP. A good daily prayer helps too!
How do you think EOP students can make the most of their college experience?
Learn the history of EOP and utilize the services EOP has to offer. There was such a strong network of students when I was attending and we had organized strong support groups. I know this concept has to exist today. For students to get the best out of EOP, I suggest that they build strong support groups within the EOP department and keep an honest and open line with their EOP counselor. Also, the students must sit down with their EOP counselor and develop a personal career development plan on a yearly basis until they graduate.
People often say, "I wish I knew then what I know now." With that in mind, what do you think students should know?
Students should know how to manage their time when in school. They should learn how to study, when to study and just keep studying until they graduate. Studying can never hurt, it can only help you make an “A” on that next test, midterm or final. You make the choice.
Network with your instructors; find out how you should approach the books if you are having some challenges. Also, review your lecture information before attending class. Ask questions in class and develop dialog to help you better understand the topics.
Use the library as often as you can. There is so much information there and I am sure it is now easier to access. Also, utilize the private study rooms in the library, not just during crunch time, but all the time so you can be ready.
What made EOP an important program to you and how has it made a difference in your life?
EOP was my introduction to college. I can remember my friend Mario Gardner bringing me the EOP paperwork to complete. I was not really interested in going to college. I completed the paperwork and had my sister look it over before I sent it in. Soon after, I started to receive calls from the EOP office, but like I said, I did not want to really attend college. The EOP office called so much I just gave in and enrolled the next semester for $356.00. WOW!
What made EOP an important program was the support it provided and the jobs it offered the students. They basically hand walked me through the registration process. There were times that I just thought I was not going to make it and wanted to give it all up. What I found out was that I was surrounded by many EOP students who just would not let me even think like that. The staff in the EOP department was just as supportive.
As a professional and alumnus of CSULB, what advice do you have for students who are graduating this semester and beginning their careers?
Start an EOP networking group. Stay in touch with the EOP department, come back and offer your services to EOP and the university. Send the department updates of your success with your new career and send in suggestions on how the department can improve, based on your success. Some students would not have had a chance to attend college if it were not for EOP, so remember to always give back.