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Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) CareerEdge Alumni Gathering in NYC | SUNY Plattsburgh

The “opportunity” in SUNY Plattsburgh’s Educational Opportunity Program is seen through the hundreds of successful alumni who, by their own admission, would have never been able to attend college without it.

Educational Opportunity Program alumni from the New York City area attended an EOP alumni gathering on March 27, sponsored by staunch supporter and alumna Pamela Hewitt ’74, a human resources consultant who has been on the top rungs in HR at such corporations as Clorox and Quaker Oats.

Given a Chance

“If not for EOP, I may not have had the opportunity to attend college,” Hewitt said. And although she hails from a loving household “… we were quite poor, so the ‘full ride’ scholarship was a blessing for our family. I was headed for living at home with my parents and attending a local community college, but EOP provided me with several major life experiences.”

EOP afforded Hewitt the “opportunity to live away from home for the first time, to experience a diverse living environment, to learn to travel on my own, to manage a budget, tackle racism, teach high school students, intern in New York City, eat foods I had never seen, and adapt to and enjoy all that the four years had to offer.”

It provided her a chance to earn a four-year degree through a four-year scholarship, which “minimized the worry that I wouldn’t be able to complete my education.”

The program also “was a cushion to ensure that I successfully graduated from Plattsburgh and enjoyed the experience,” she said. “I wish that I knew then what I know now. I would have been more active in EOP.”

Hewitt, who supported the March 27 gathering with a $5,000 gift to the Plattsburgh College Foundation, is encouraging that participation now from fellow alumni, asking them to step up to the plate and support the program that all of them benefitted from.

“We believe this event will be the springboard in our ongoing effort to build an even stronger EOP alumni community.  We will encourage EOP alumni to get into the habit of supporting EOP charitably, to network professionally with one another and to stay tuned-in with EOP Director Kyla Relaford and her team on campus,” said Anne Hansen, vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the Plattsburgh College Foundation.

“EOP and like programs are critical for students such as myself,” Hewitt added. “I had loving parents — the best — but I was a first-generation college student. They could not help me determine best class schedules or manage living in a dorm with no other African-Americans. EOP was critical in helping me make wise choices and getting me through some of the challenges of college life.”

Support for CareerEdge Program

In 2010, Hewitt endowed the Lynne White Scheider Memorial Scholarship, named in memory of her best friend and roommate who was killed at age 30 in a car accident. Aimed at helping EOP students in their second, third and fourth year, the scholarship was Hewitt’s first foray into supporting the program that meant so much to her then and now. Since then, she has supported the EOP CareerEdge Program, which is now in its third year of helping EOP students through alumni support and mentorship.

Hewitt appeared first as a panelist at 2013 CareerEdge weekend retreat for select EOP students and then co-sponsored the 2014 event with fellow panelist, David Zebro ’72, the inaugural sponsor of CareerEdge, who has been supporting the program and EOP ever since.

“These students are so motivated and professional,” Zebro said. “Meeting them and supporting them has been a privilege.”

CareerEdge Expands to Pre-Law

The CareerEdge concept expanded last fall, bringing the first-ever Pre-Law CareerEdge Day to campus during Homecoming 2014.

“We took the EOP model and with the help of the Dr. James Coffey and Dr. William Peters, co-coordinators of the legal studies minor, and Michelle St. Onge from the Career Development Center, we built a session that gave students the chance to hear from a U.S. district judge, New York state associate and U.S. assistant attorneys, the senior managing counsel for Xerox, a city court judge, and attorneys specializing in environmental and energy/utilities law,” Hansen said.  “They say the best form of flattery is imitation.  The EOP CareerEdge model is certainly worth imitating.”

About Career Edge

For more information on the CareerEdge and how you can help, contact the Plattsburgh Alumni Association, 518-564-2090.

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