EOP Honors Convocation: Paying It Forward

EOP Honors Convocation: Paying It Forward

Posted: May 5, 2014

These students—all 422 of them— weren’t supposed to be at college at all. However, on Thursday, May 8, Buffalo State will hold the 2014 Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program Honors Convocation at 3:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center in Rockwell Hall. The students to be honored maintained at least a 3.0 grade-point average during the spring or fall 2013 semesters.

Yanick Jenkins, director of EOP at Buffalo state since 2001, said  "These students have maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 during their entire Buffalo State career, thanks to the successful partnership between the student, our program, and Buffalo State."

The theme of this year’s EOP convocation is "Imagine, Believe, Achieve: Because of Buffalo State EOP, I Am Paying It Forward." Jeff Oyo (pictured left), class of 2014, is among the top five graduating seniors and he has already begun to "pay it forward." Oyo, who received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, majored in economics with a minor in mathematics. He took time out from his rigorous academic program to tutor other EOP students. He has been accepted into the economics doctoral program at Ohio State University, where he plans to conduct research in labor economics.

LaGuardia Billingslea, Shantay Owens, Casey Li, and Challis Cooks complete the list of seniors in EOP with the highest GPAs.

The following awards and honors will be given:

  • Alumni Association Awards: LaGuardia Billingslea, Shantay Owens
  • EOP Staff Merit Award: Rita Gallagher, Karen Jezioro
  • Annie Joe Memorial Award: April Benitez
  • Kolowale Glover Memorial Award: Niasia Spand
  • Martha Pierce Student Recognition Award: Jeramie White
  • Theresa A. Shepard Advocacy Award: Jeff Oyo
  • Arthur O. Eve Distinguished Student Achievement Award: Challis Cooks
  • EOP Director’s Award: Jason Greig
  • EOP Faculty Merit Award: Lori Woods

The award for the highest cumulative average by class will be given to first-year student Edwin Cabiness; sophomore Jazlyn Porter; juniors Daquan Anderson and Diamond Briggs (tied); and senior John-Paul Joss.

Debra Vizzi, ’81, will receive the EOP Distinguished Alumnus Award. Vizzi, who spent her childhood in foster homes, has held a series of executive positions in the not-for-profit sector. A native of the Bronx, she returned there in 2009 to head VIP Community Services, which offers a continuum of services to people with histories of chemical dependency.

Ninety-three percent of EOP students come from families with incomes of less than $25,000 a year. The EOP program provides students who are disadvantaged financially and academically with a way to be admitted to college, providing the students demonstrate the ability to succeed. While EOP provides some funding to students, its greatest value lies in the counseling and tutoring support it provides to students.

Vizzi, in a career dedicated to serving others, has returned the EOP investment many times over. Today, she says of her work, "I’m privileged to work for an organization that can say that on a bad day, we help hundreds and on a good day, thousands."

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