Eastern in the City welcomes new program director

Amy Perez began her position as new program director of Eastern in the City on Sept. 22, following Jeneen Barlow who served as program director since the beginning of EIC in 2006.

“I’m excited to be here,” Perez said. “I think the mission and vision of the program is something that is worth investing myself in.”

Perez graduated from Eastern in 1995. After working at Ayuda Community Center for eight years, Perez earned her master’s degree in social work at Temple University. While attending Temple, Perez worked part time with teen mothers and their children in various urban high schools of Philadelphia. She later worked for the city of Philadelphia under Mayor Street in administration for social services.

“[Working for the city] taught me a lot about administration and policy,” Perez said. “I think [my work experiences] are important in terms of why I’m qualified to be here.”

According to Administrative Assistant Weslie Holland, the responsibility of the program director is to provide direction for the administrative staff and to oversee all aspects of the program, including admission and academic support for students. The program director also interacts individually with the students during one-on-one meetings to discuss progress, Holland said.

EIC, according to Perez, is the first year of a student’s four-year undergraduate degree. Students can complete their degrees at Eastern or any other four-year college. EIC switched from a two-year to a one-year program in the spring of 2008. According to Holland, the program now offers 34 credits, and the curriculum includes more core classes necessary for various majors.

One of the advantages of EIC, Perez said, is the small class sizes, which average between 12 and 15 students. Referring to its Philadelphia location, Perez said, “We use the city as our classroom.” The students interact with the city, Perez said, supporting the program’s mission of creating urban leaders.

Jeneen Barlow, former program director, stepped down from her position in order to work towards a doctoral degree. “(We) teach people to use their education for their purpose and destiny,” Barlow said. “Part of my philosophy is that you need to do as you teach, so I did this by pursuing my doctoral degree.”

In addition to studying, Barlow is currently an affiliate professor of Eastern. She teaches a variety of classes at different Eastern locations, including EIC, Palmer Seminary and Esperanza College.

“I hope that (Perez) can bring more name recognition to the program and do some grant writing to bring financial support to the program,” Barlow said. “Much of her experience is in that area.”

“[Perez] is a person of strong faith,” Barlow said. “She brings the love of Eastern, in general, to the program.”

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