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Seton Hall University

Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Receives 2023 Outstanding Mission Award

three students sitting on the green with a laptopThe Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at Seton Hall University was established in 1968 to provide educational and financial assistance to eligible New Jersey students of academic promise from disadvantaged backgrounds. EOP offers a diverse and collaborative environment that prepares scholars to be servant leaders within their communities and to compete and succeed in a global society. EOP combines financial assistance with academic and social support, including tutoring, structured study, academic advisement, community service, internships, and counseling services. 

Students participating in the EOP program are highly successful, boasting the highest first-year retention and graduation rates at Seton Hall. Last year, the retention rate for first-year EOP students was 94.4%, a percentage 9.2% higher than overall first-year retention. 

In 2023, the Division of Student Services recognized two departments for the Outstanding Mission Award – The Educational Opportunity Program and Public Safety and Security. The Outstanding Mission Award is awarded to a department(s) that embodies and develops the University mission through:

• building efforts towards increased diversity, inclusion, and collaboration,
• community partnerships inside and outside of the University, and/or
• developing servant leaders in mind, heart and spirit

Jason Oliviera, assistant dean of Campus Inclusion & Community and director of the Education Opportunity Fund states, “At Seton Hall, we partner with our scholars to ensure that they unlock their potential, exceed their own expectations and experience incredible success as lifelong learners. We believe that with opportunity our scholars can change the world.”

EOP Scholars share a similar enthusiasm for the Program. One student explained, “EOP really was a jump start to social life. The advisors were honest and kept me on track. EOP gave me a multitude of connections.” Another student shared, “EOP was beneficial. I always knew the office was there for me. I met a lot of people… and it’s good to know resources are available.”

On January 25, 2024, Vice President Monica Burnette, Ph.D., interviewed EOP team members on their recognition.

Team members included Associate Director Akirah Fenimore, Senior Student Success Advisor Jose Rodas, and Student Success Advisor Myles Douglas. 

What are three words you would use to describe the mission of EOP?

- Akirah: Service, development, and access       
- Jose: Inclusive, innovative, and student-driven
- Myles: Dedication, commitment, and flexible

What do you find most rewarding about working in EOP?

- Akirah: I find it rewarding to witness and contribute to the growth and development of the scholars in the program. I am impacted each day by the resilience, drive and dedication our scholars exhibit as they work on defining what success means to them. Seeing our scholars enter the program and graduate Seton Hall with a degree is a privilege I have the honor to witness each year.

- Jose: What I find most rewarding is our emphasis on student support and success. Our main mission is to create a premier student experience, which is imperative for the overall success of the student population we serve. Being able to see students enter and graduate from Seton Hall and then be successful in their respective careers is a reward I cherish. 

- Myles: The most rewarding part of my role is having the opportunity to guide and mentor students from the beginning of their college experience. As the students grow personally and academically, I take pride in providing resources and advice to help them succeed, especially in their first year.

What does it mean to you and to EOP to be recognized for this award?

- Akirah: Having the Division recognize EOP for the Outstanding Mission Award validates what the team does and is humbling and greatly appreciated.

- Myles: It is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of this staff, who provides resources and support that go beyond academics. We work to ensure students are successful in their collegiate and personal lives by providing personalized and individualized support. 

What are some EOP future initiatives?

- Akirah: Through three critical lenses: academic, social and administrative, EOP is examining the E.D.G.E. Summer Institute and how we can best prepare students for the transition they will experience once the fall semester commences. We are reviewing student focus groups, meetings with other EOF programs and researching best practices.

- Jose: We will continue to increase student support, such as providing flexible tutoring schedules and workshops with topics requested by our students. Other future initiatives include student leadership conferences and excursions to cultural intuitions, such as museums and musical performances. 

- Myles: A future initiative is to identify students in particular majors prior to our summer program, such as nursing, and potentially provide them with courses in science or other STEM-related courses during the summer program. This would give students an introduction to these courses before taking them during their first year. 

How can one learn more about your department?

- Akirah: There are several opportunities to learn more information about EOP. We have information published on our website, and we are open to attending trainings or meetings to present on the program and how we can best serve students at Seton Hall. The EOP Office is located in Alfieri Hall. 

Categories: Education

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