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.