Highlighting EOP student accomplishments

Buffalo State’s Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program celebrates its 46th anniversary this year.

The EOP is an admissions program that provides support in academics and financial aid for students in need. It allows students to participate in many activities such as peer mentoring, becoming part of the Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society, and tutoring.

Director of the program, Yanick Jenkins, said that when students are accepted in the beginning of the program, it is based on their different circumstances. She said it’s important to highlight these students for their accomplishments because of the circumstances in how they were admitted.

“Some students wouldn’t have been accepted if this program didn’t exist,” Jenkins said. “Students who otherwise wouldn’t be here, they’re doing a lot better than a lot of the other students.”

Each student in the program also has a counselor that they may go to for advice or assistance. William Ortega, an EOP counselor, described his job as one of the most important and rewarding ones he’s ever had.

“Every day brings a different issue or opportunity to serve our students,” Ortega said. “We are all well-versed in academic advising, financial aid and all other issues that affect all students on this campus. Students that are lost and don’t know where to go or how to resolve a particular problem can come to us and get full and competent attention.”

Janisa Thorne, a junior EOP peer mentor, said that the program has helped her learn to never give up regardless of how difficult a time she might be having. She said she thinks her biggest accomplishment is making it to her junior year of college.

“Statistically speaking, I wasn’t supposed to even make it to college,” Thorne said. “I left high school with a 79 GPA and ended off last semester with a 3.75. I made honor roll, Dean’s List, and this upcoming November, I will be inducted into the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honors Society.”

Thorne noted that having a strong support system and unlimited resources has allowed her to maintain a good class standing and improved confidence for herself.

“Having a counselor and essentially a family who sees my potential and will do anything to help me reach it fully,” Thorne said, “is more help than most people receive in a lifetime.”

The EOP counselors serve as both academic and life advisors. They are there to support students with their courses as well as with any problems that may arise. Incoming students are assigned a counselor who guides them and works with them until graduation.

Emma McFayden, an EOP counselor, said that her passion for the students and the program has been “steadfast” for over 35 years. McFayden said those students who create a comfortable relationship with their counselors may ask them for reference letters when they graduate.

“It is important to let others know that with a little assistance, our students are making the mark,” McFayden said. “Many of them are first generation college students who have been told they are not college-ready. On the contrary, they are ready, willing and able to do what’s necessary to be successful here.”

Being a student in the EOP opens up many opportunities to get involved around campus. The program has established a sophomore success readiness program as well as a first-year mentoring program. These programs help students better prepare themselves academically in order to graduate in the future.

Diamond Briggs, a junior sociology major, said that through the program, she was granted a lot of opportunities. She has been able to become a resident assistant, a McNair scholar, an academic and first-year mentor and student assistant for EOP and more.

“I think it’s the best opportunity a student could have,” Briggs said. “There’s so much support that’s given to you whether they’re helping you find jobs or helping you with tutoring, it’s like everything that you could need. It’s like a family.”

Briggs noted the counselors and faculty are very supportive with anything she decides to do. She gives back to the program by doing community service and helping out when she can. Her favorite thing to do is academic mentoring.

“I’m able to help people who are struggling in something I’m familiar with,”
Briggs said. “I could help them achieve their goals. I just get a joy out of helping people and helping them succeed. “

Through the EOP, Thorne has been able to become a student assistant for the freshman in the summer, as well as a peer mentor. Both opportunities helped her create relationships with other students and the ability to help them if needed.

“Over the summer, our saying was, ‘EOP, we all we got,’” Thorne said. “As a mentor and an EOP student, I take that to heart and I know that my students will one day as well.”

Jenkins said that this program is not just about the current students, but everyone who comes after. She wants continued success for all of the students.

“It doesn’t cost them to be in EOP, but we expect them to graduate,” Jenkins said. “We’re happy they’re here, but what we need back from them is to succeed.”

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Twitter: @lcoppola92.