VP of student affairs inspires through her work

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Courtesy of Berenecea Johnson Eanes

Vice president of Student Affairs Berenecea Johnson Eanes is in the business of changing lives at Cal State Fullerton.

“Her pushing me and encouraging me and telling me ‘Yeah, you can do it’ and believing in me when I felt like I didn’t believe in myself was very powerful,” said CSUF Chicano studies and human services alumna Eloisa Amador-Lara.

Eanes, an Indianapolis native, said CSUF offers her the opportunity to “work with students who are dynamic, diverse, reflective of the region and who really wanted to come here.”

As the leader of the division, Eanes said she strives to be a collaborative leader, a listener and a student-centered vice president.

“We’re never done learning how to lead,” she said.

In addition to a collaborative leadership style, a strong staff is key to a positive student experience, Eanes said.

Tonantzin Oseguera is the associate vice president for Student Affairs and has been a colleague of Eanes for over three years. Eanes was one of the reasons she wanted to work at CSUF, Oseguera said.  

“She walks the talk. When she says this is how we’re going to do things, she does it. And when she says I believe in diversity and inclusion, she demonstrates that. In a leader, that’s not always the case, but she makes damn sure that what she says is what she does,” Oseguera said.

Since arriving at CSUF, Eanes has focused on a variety of issues including financial aid options, athletics, orientation and outreach services and advising.

One of her biggest accomplishments was the development of the diversity centers, Eanes said.

“There were some identifiable opportunities for growth in this division,” Eanes said. “I’m really proud that we developed that office and hired the staff of the centers, and we’ve done great work to have these places for our students.”

Oseguera also worked closely with Eanes to get the diversity centers up and running for the students.

“She’s ensured that our diversity initiative resource centers and all of our cultural centers have full-time staff, have some programming money and we get new space in the library in the future” Oseguera said.

The team at the division of Student Affairs’ work on the DREAM center inspired Amador during her time at CSUF, she said.

Amador said Eanes supported her in her goals and pushed her to not only do better, but to reach further. Amador is a graduate student at the University of Vermont studying higher education in the student affairs program. She said Eanes was “instrumental in her decision” and made her transition smoother.

“She didn’t tell me ‘You need to go,’ but she talked to me and not only did she talk to me but she heard me,” Amador said. “We didn’t meet often … but when we did meet, it was just so powerful.”

Eanes said she loved helping Amador reach her aspirations.

“I try to do for my mentee what (my mentors) did for me,” Eanes said.

The vice president said her focus is on the students and their needs.

“What we do is help (students) either acquire the lesson or experience and then help (students) apply it,” Eanes said.

Bringing a commitment to the student experience was something Eanes has put time into since she became vice president.

Amador-Lara said some of the best advice she received from Eanes was, “No matter how you feel, no matter what’s going on, just get up and get out there and keep pushing and believing in yourself.”

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