EOP Reunion in the Big Apple | SUNY Plattsburgh
New York City’s Club Quarters Midtown was the place to be during an exclusive alumni event in the Big Apple for more than 70 graduates of SUNY Plattsburgh’s Educational Opportunity Program.
Alumni enjoyed refreshments as they were welcomed by Distinguished EOP Alumna Pamela Hewitt ’74, President John Ettling, EOP Director Kyla Relaford ’02, EOP Counselor Amy Daniels ’08, EOP Counselor Cassie Christman and Associate Vice President for Student Life Michele Carpentier. Alumni reconnected with each other and with EOP.
“It felt a lot like a family reunion. There was a lot of hugging, a lot of tears, a lot of laughter,” Relaford said.
Hewitt, the event’s host and sponsor, said, “If not for EOP, I may not have had the opportunity to attend college. It afforded me 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 tasted and adapt to and enjoy all that the four years of college had to offer.”
She added that she hoped to see alumni get involved at earlier points in their careers. Hewitt established the Lynne White Scheider Memorial Scholarship in memory of her Plattsburgh roommate as a way to assist EOP students. She also helped create the CareerEdge program for EOP students.
“I would like to see more students receiving the financial, emotional and educational support that programs like EOP provide. Those of us who have grown through EOP have a responsibility to ensure it has a future. We are hoping for involvement with mentoring, the CareerEdge program and internships, in addition to financial support. There are so many ways to give back.”
That sentiment was embraced by Hewitt’s peers. More than 77 percent of alumni in attendance made a charitable gift to the program on the spot or online immediately after the event. Many alumni also volunteered to help strengthen the EOP alumni family. The NYC alumni reunion also inspired other EOP alumni to support the program, even though they were unable to attend. More than 70 percent of all donors to EOP to date were prompted to make a gift to EOP through communications related to the gathering.
“Many of our alumni are ready to give back and are uniquely qualified to do so,” according to Relaford. “We are just opening doors and creating opportunities for these connections to flourish.”
The annual CareerEdge Weekend conference is held on campus during Homecoming in October and gives EOP alumni a chance to help current EOP students. The three-day conference offers alumni panels, development of etiquette and communication skills, workshops, mock interviews, networking opportunities and more.
“It’s really an intensive weekend that cannot be done without alumni support,” Relaford said.