Plattsburgh State received a state grant worth $122,500 to benefit the Educational Opportunity Program and the students who receive academic and financial support. Because of the funds this grant provides, 35 more students will be able to use EOP services.

The total amount of the grant was $2.3 million, according to a PSUC news release, but that total has been distributed among 16 SUNY campuses.

EOP Director Kyla Relaford said a small component of the grant funds will benefit the Pre-Freshman Summer Institute, a month-and-a-half long program that starts in July.

PSUC freshman and public relations major Jayah Arnett said she found out about EOP by talking with friends who were previously in it.

“It’s (the Summer Institute) kind of like boot camp,” Arnett said. “You come in the day after the Fourth of July, and you have to be here, like, eight in the morning.”

Relaford said the EOP helps to establish a sense of diversity on campus.

“Last year’s freshman class, in terms of diversity, EOP students comprised 25 percent of self-identified racially and ethnically diverse students at SUNY Plattsburgh,” she said. “Imagine 25 percent of the diversity of the freshman class disappearing.”

Relaford said the days students spend in the Summer Institute program is rigorously scheduled in order to prepare students for college life.

“We are packing into four weeks a lot of pre-college prep to make sure our students are really ready, and they start college from a point of strength,” she said. “We don’t want our students to come experiencing or feeling as though they’re behind. We need our students to come in feeling confident and prepared.”

The program entails coursework in mathematics, writing and special topics such as coaching psychology, contemporary issues in college life and technology in academia, as well as recreational and social activities, according to the PSUC website.

“It’s overwhelming at first, but you get used to it,” Arnett said.

Relaford said that, although EOP students must complete the Summer Institute program in order to attend PSUC, it gives every student the opportunities to succeed.

Not every student has the same opportunities for success, and EOP is on campus, in part, to level the playing field, so everyone who wants to succeed has a chance to do so.

“Most of our students have personal circumstances — economic circumstances, life circumstances — that have really served as an obstacle and a barrier to academic success,” she said. “They’ve been dealing with issues — economic and personal — that have really prevented them from fully engaging academically.”

Relaford also said, in some cases, students who receive EOP services come from schools that are “extremely weak.”

“They’re coming out of public schools that are not strong and didn’t have the resources to support them,” she said. “The academic picture for the EOP student, they may not have a tier-one transcript, but there were reasons for that.”

PSUC Communication Disorders and Sciences major Jordanne Stephenson said although she is not an EOP student, some of her friends are, and EOP is a great resource on campus for them and other students who rely on the program.

“Without programs like those, many students (who) want to go to college wouldn’t be able to because of economic disadvantages or just disadvantages with the high schools they go to, which … isn’t the person’s fault,” Stephenson said.

Arnett said her first impression of PSUC was not the best because Syracuse University was her first choice for college.

She said she approached PSUC with the mindset that she would give it a chance, and if she didn’t like it, she could always transfer after her first semester. After she arrived on campus, her opinion of the college slowly began to change.

“It’s not about where you are, but it’s about who you are and what you do,” Arnett said.

Email Tim Lyman at news@cardinalpointsonline.com

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