The academic achievements of 47 Economic Opportunity Program (EOP) undergraduates and a further 28 students, who earned an upgrade distinction for continued pursuit of academic excellence, were publicly acknowledged in front of peers, faculty, EOP staff and family at the EOP’s ninth Annual Chi Alpha Epsilon Induction Ceremony on Friday, April 29.
It was followed by a pinning ceremony, an affirmative event for the students and their families.
“The Educational Opportunity Program induction ceremony was a very sweet and impressive event,” Jacqueline Andrews, assistant vice president for institutional research and planning, said. “It showcases youthful striving, energy, focus, hard work and intelligence. The pinning ceremony was especially moving. Students were pinned by their mothers, brothers, fathers, grandmothers, boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends and EOP advisors–tears and hugs abound.”
The ceremony’s keynote speaker was alumnus John Agnelli, vice president of student affairs at Vaughn College who holds a B.B.A. in hospitality management from SUNY Oneonta and an M.P.S. in humanistic multicultural education from SUNY New Paltz, among other degrees. He delivered a speech that captivated the audience and inductees with rhythmic, heady pleas for his superman or superwoman.
“We are the people of the United States looking so hard to see superman…when we see the poor on the streets we are shocked and impressed by the stories portrayed as acts of kindness when they should be seen as acts of obligation to our fellow brothers and sisters. This is why I am waiting for my superman, where is he and when will she come,” Agnelli said.
“Why am I here today before you? I didn’t really know…until I witnessed the movie “Waiting for Superman.” I renewed my commitment to higher education and society. I realized at that moment…I can no longer wait for superman, I have to believe in her or him before me, and in me. Are you the superman I have been waiting for? Are you her? Are you the one who will save us?”
New Paltz’s EOP is an academic program designed with the belief that all students, despite inadequate financial resources, academic preparation or unequal opportunities, can still reach their greatest potential and highest aspirations through higher education.
Winner of a Noel-Levitz Retention Excellence Award (2004), EOP enrolls more than 500 students annually. This comprehensive program and its devoted, passionate EOP staff strive to support the success, retention and graduation of its students. They offer a personalized, specially tailored support program that provides academic, personal and social counseling as well as financial aid advisement.
EOP’s retention rate is evinced in the numbers. According to Andrews, 84 percent of EOP students who entered New Paltz in fall 2009 returned in fall 2010, compared to 87 percent of non-EOP students. Eighty-eight percent of both EOP and non-EOP students who entered in fall 2008 returned in fall 2009.