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Graduating Seniors Offer Advice to New Students

Graduating Seniors Offer Advice to New Students

Posted: May 10, 2012
Updated: May 17, 2012

If you’re just starting your college career, you’d do well to heed the words of these six members of the class of 2012. Each is graduating with academic honors.

From Martha Chery, a fashion merchandising major with a GPA of 3.77: “Don’t focus on past, present, or future obstacles that make you feel like you can’t accomplish your goals. And don’t be late for class.”

From Yunimar Alfonzo, a psychology major with a GPA of 3.66: “Dedication and aspiration have kept me on track to achieve my goals.”

From Jani Cash, a history major with a minor in French and a GPA of 3.63: “The sacrifices I’ve made are just social ones...Not earning my degree would have been a much larger sacrifice.”

From Kimani George, a criminal justice major and coaching minor with a GPA of 3.61: “I try my best to stay organized and put sufficient time into every class.”

From Orlando McEwan, a biology honors major with a chemistry minor: “The more prepared you are, the more primed for success you are!”

From Thaddeus Hagood, a media production major with a 3.59 GPA: “To earn my degree, I’ve had to put priorities in order, which meant skipping nights out with friends and cutting down on video games.”

And guess what else? These students weren’t considered capable of succeeding in college. Buffalo State’s Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) gave these students a chance.

To be eligible for EOP, a student must meet two basic criteria: low household income and ineligibility for admission through a standard college admissions process. However, to be admitted to EOP, a student must show some evidence of being able to achieve academic success.

While it’s clear that these students made academic success a priority, they also had a lot of fun. Cash remembers riding a mechanical bull at the annual Union Bash as one of the highlights of her time at Buffalo State; George played football with the Bengals. They were all active in co-curricular activities that included honor societies, academic clubs, or student organizations.

Chery’s mother, an immigrant from Haiti, instilled the value of education into her daughter—“so much so,” said Chery, “that nothing would have deterred me from a college degree.” Hagood started out at Syracuse University, but his academic career was derailed when an injury left him with partial paralysis of his foot. After a brief time off for recovery, he went to Monroe Community College to get back on track and then transferred to Buffalo State.

Their future plans are impressive, too. Alfonzo has been accepted into the master’s of education program in counseling psychology at Columbia University. McEwan will attend Ohio State University’s doctoral program in molecular/cellular biology.

All the students in the EOP program have access to academic support and mentoring. These students took full advantage of it. They point to their families as the reason they decided to attend college and as an important reason for their success. They are grateful to their families, to EOP staff, and to the professors who have encouraged and advised them.

When asked if it was OK to tell their story, Alfonzo wrote, “It's okay with me…I hope it will inspire others like us to strive for more; that will be the only way they will achieve more.”

Update: May 17, 2012
Some of the information in this article was taken from “Our Top 5 Graduating Seniors,” written by Elizabeth Stevens, senior counselor and academic adviser with the Arthur O. Eve Educational Program.

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