The SUNY New Paltz Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) held its fourth Bi-Annual Conference on April 30, featuring workshops and lectures given by guests drawn from the ranks of the EOP student and alumni network.
The theme for this year’s conference, “Strong Foundation, Strong Future,” emphasized the success of New Paltz EOP in preparing students from underrepresented and underprivileged demographics to thrive as scholars, professionals and community leaders.
“For close to half a century, EOP has fulfilled a critical mission in higher education: providing access to students who overcome significant barriers and challenges to gaining higher education, which is truly a ticket to a brighter future,” said President Donald P. Christian. “Our EOP staff shows great leadership and takes a student-centered approach with advisees, providing the building blocks for success during their time here and after graduation, and I know from my conversations with students how much they value that support.”
The conference focused on providing valuable educational opportunities and connecting student and alumni members of the EOP family. It also gave an occasion for the program’s constituents to celebrate the recent news that SUNY will devote recurring funding to expand New Paltz’s EOP by 100 students and one advisor over the next four years.
“Many of our students are Chancellor’s Award winners, Honors students, campus and community leaders and world travelers, and we have high retention and graduation rates that increase every year,” said EOP Director Antonio Bonilla. “The combination of these accomplishments, awards and accolades has afforded us many new opportunities, including increases in our number of students. The only way for a program like this to earn that recognition is through the actions of our students, the dedication of our staff and the great support of our College administration, and I want to thank all of these people who continue to make EOP at New Paltz a success.”
A number of distinguished alumni returned to campus to speak at the conference, including Keynote Speaker Janet Davis ’96 (Communication Media), Cheyenne Vancooten ’07 (Sociology), Diones Adorno ’12 (Sociology), Anthony Winn ’92 (Business Administration), Milton ’11 (Television Production) and Idelsi Olivero ’11 (Finance / Journalism) and Luz Avila Kyncl ’96 (Psychology), on campus with her husband, the spring 2016 Distinguished Speaker Robert Kyncl ’95 (International Relations).
“EOP gave me the opportunity to come to college and earn my degree,” said Avila Kyncl. “My mother was a housekeeper with four children, and she could not afford to send us to college. New Paltz gave me the knowledge and the skills to fulfill my dreams, but EOP was the foundation of everything. It really opened the door for me.”
Two student-run workshops rounded out the EOP Conference program. The conference was made possible thanks in large part to the efforts of EOP Advisor and Conference Coordinator Jessica Purcell.
About EOP at New Paltz
Founded in 1967, the Educational Opportunity Program provides academic and financial support to New York State residents with a high school diploma or its equivalent, and who do not meet general admission criteria, but have the academic potential to earn a college degree. The program serves students from a variety of circumstances that may present barriers to academic success.
More information about EOP at SUNY New Paltz is available online.