Why I am Thankful for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)

Why I am Thankful for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)

Proud to be EOP!
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I know there aren’t many people out there that know about or even know what EOP is, so I’ll just give a brief summarization of it. The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) is most formally defined as a program that is prompted to provide students admission and give financial assistance to undergraduate students that are eligible, based upon High School GPA’s, SAT scores, etc., etc. But to me, it is so much more than that.

Being a student at the University I attend, UAlbany, I was one of the lucky ones to be selected for this program. I can honestly sit here and say, that if it weren’t for EOP, I don’t know where I’d be today. They gave me a chance, for which I am forever grateful for.

When you are selected under EOP, you are to attend a five-week program usually for the whole month of July. It’s an intense program at my school. No phones. No physical contact. A strict dress code (not even shoulders). Nada. You are also to take three classes throughout the program and attend lectures. A fully scheduled day. And when you’re spending the five weeks in the program many people are like man, “Why, WHY am I here?!”

But for me, it was different, I knew why I was here. There was just something about my summer that I truly loved and always stuck with me. It’s where I gained most of my college friends, where I stepped outside of my comfort zone, where I truly felt like I could be myself. It was an opportunity for me to grow and get started for something that’d change my life for the better. It was an opportunity that gave me the chance to bloom. I learned so much about myself and college, before I actually even started college, and it’s all thanks to EOP.

It’s not the same for everyone, not everyone’s going to feel the same as I did. They won’t feel that it was this life changing thing, some just don’t see it that way, and that’s fine.

But I’m writing this because it did so much for me, so much that I even decided to become an SA (Student Assistant) for the next two summers following mine! And even though those weeks were tough, and stressful, it was so rewarding to both give and get back. You learn so much about the students and the staff, the counselors and the amazing director (Maritza Martinez is thee best EOP Director by the way). We all come from such diverse backgrounds and I just think it’s amazing because we learn so much about one another.

I just wanted people that stereotype us EOP students to know, this is not a program for some poor kids who get bad grades and are just thrown into college - no. We are scholars who put in the time, night and day to work towards something bigger than us. As students, we all have goals, and we all have dreams that we strive towards – the only difference we may have from regular admission is we, as an EOP family, have each other to fall back on at the end of the day. No matter what paths we walk, no matter what roads we take - that’ll never change. #EOPHoldinItDown

Thank you for everything you have done for me. Sincerely.

Cover Image Credit: Claudio Gomez

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To The High School Teacher Who Changed My Life Long After Graduation

It is about time you knew.

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I have been putting off writing this since graduation; what do you say to someone who changed your life completely? Exactly. I had no clue either, but after thinking, writing and rewriting this all came together.

I finally knew what I wanted to say to you.

First and foremost, thank you. Throughout my high school career, you were the one person that no matter what I was feeling, thinking, or needing you understood. You are my biggest supporter and even throughout college, you continue to reach out to make sure that everything is going well.

You encourage my dreams, tell me how you really feel and never let me make the stupid choice. You listened to me as I cried and laughed with me through the good moments. You encouraged me to reach for the stars and no matter what you told me that I could. You created this idea in my mind that I could be anything I wanted, and anyone I wanted and because of you I believe that now.

Second, you are incredible.

I know you will never believe me on this but you never gave yourself enough credit anyway. You stuck with your passion for teaching even after the benefits of other jobs. You raise a family and support three kids and a wife through their biggest moments despite the time consumed at work. You manage to be a friend, a colleague, a tutor, a coach, a teacher, a husband, a father, a son, and a neighbor and never let your commitment to anyone go without attention. You spend countless hours on the people around you and never ask for anything in return. You give everyone the time of day they deserve and you make sure when they are done talking to you they feel better. I hope someday you see that you are one of the most incredible people, you deserve to.

Lastly, you make a difference.

I know after a long day of high school students you feel like you talked to a brick wall. I know you feel like what you just did was a waste of your time and theirs, but you need to know that is not true. You encourage students to pursue their dreams. You encourage people to make the right decisions despite the wrong temptations. You encourage students to be themselves and give them an environment in which they can, safely and happily. You make a difference on every student you encounter.

While writing about your students, I cannot even begin to tell you how you make a difference in your children. Your children look up to you, believe in you and listen to you. You pursuing your dream, giving them a home and loving their mother makes a difference every single day in their life. I have asked them about you, and the things they say would bring the toughest man to tears. Please know at the end of every day - you made a difference.

After everything you did for me, I will never be able to repay you.

I hope I can make you proud and I hope that no matter where my future takes me you will forever know that I am there in part because of you. You deserve the world, but a letter will have to do for now. Continue to be the incredible person you are, because the world needs more people like you.

From,

The Student Who's Life You Changed

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How Your College Break, Holiday Season Will Probably Go Down, As Told By 'New Girl'

Thank God for that spiked egg nog.

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YAHHHHHHH!

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If you know me at all, I believe this is the best time of the year, everything is decorated with twinkly lights, there is an abundance of ice skating rinks around town, the Starbucks Christmas cups are here, and of course the time of going home to your families.

Introducing significant others to the family is always exciting yet nerve-racking. Especially in my household with my millions of cousins who all take the responsibility of being my intimidating older brother. Did they lock my boyfriend in a closet at some point? You betcha. Now did that relationship last much past that? You tell me.

So whether you are bringing a sig-o to meet your family or just your lovely self, there are always the up's and downs of the Holidays. The following is a Christmas Story as described by "New Girl".

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Ah, cuffing season, we only love you if we're reaping the benefits.

You come home during the Holidays and your Aunt asks, "where's that one fella?", and your mother gives her the look and she quickly tries to change the subject. You proceed to have the lovely conversation of why you're alone, but actually totally okay with it, cause you don't have the time, and are a busy gal trying to juggle clubs, a job, an internship, and school all at once. You talk about the accomplishments that you've been making, and the only part of that speech that is registered by your family members is that you came alone, you get that endearing pat on the back, of "it's gonna be okay". I KNOW SUSAN.

Or you might bring home that boyfriend, finally someone worth bringing home to show off to your family but of course, being the overachiever that you've been looking for, he tries to fit in too quickly, impress your family. Then goes in for the hug with your Dad right off the bat, when your dad was going for the handshake.

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Tone it down babe.

This is then the point of where you walk away to take a breath and go straight for the food -- but hold on, it isn't ready yet because you came for dinner and it's 2 pm.

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You go sit down next to your elderly relatives to see how they are doing, and you're surprised because you find yourself relating to cynical old Uncle Larry. Bonding.

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Then finally, the Turkey buzzer goes off and its time to eat, your grandmother continues to then feeds you loads of her homemade stuffing.

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Then your lovely Aunt Sheryl stops by and takes a seat next to you and asks you what you are planning on doing with your life.

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God bless that spiked eggnog.

Everything might not go according to plan, it never does.

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Yet at the end of that hectic day, you look at everyone surrounding you, and you are damn thankful to have all of these people in your life. Whether they are family, friends, or your cousin's boyfriend you're meeting for the first time. Everyone there made the effort of coming together, enjoying one another's company, celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, and enjoying a nice cup of hot cocoa. Even though parts of it may seem painful, Christmas is still the all-time best, especially when you have an Aunt like mine who decorates her house like the actual North Pole, and you can't help but walk around like a giddy Jessica Day.

Having the privilege of relaxing and celebrating, and eating good food with each other.

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I can't wait.

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