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    Advancement Program Celebrates 40 Years

    On Apr. 5, the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), commonly known on-campus as Advancement on Individual Merit (AIM) celebrated its 40th anniversary. The event was held at Charles B. Wang Center on the Zodiac level.

    The celebration began with Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Participants included President Shirley Strum Kenny, other higher administrative staff, EOP/AIM alumni, and current students.

    EOP/AIM, the second oldest program of its type in nation, came into inception in 1968 after the New York State Legislature passed the bill to provide full funding for the program on SUNY campuses.

    EOP program was started as a result of the Civil Rights Movement, when it was realized that minorities in America, specifically African-Americans, lacked educational opportunities that have become barriers in their way to succeed economically. Therefore, the mission of EOP program was set to help academically and economically disadvantaged students gain college education and help them become productive citizens of their society.

    The program provides sufficient financial aid package to its students, including free tutoring services and guidance counselors that are always there to help them. Students accepted into the program are required to attend a five-week summer program to prepare them academically and morally for college.

    The year 1968 also marked the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated on Apr. 4 of the same year. Moments before his assassination, King passionately gave a prophetic speech saying, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But then it really doesn’t matter to me now. Because I have been to the mountaintop.”

    It was the charismatic leadership of King, and other leaders of the civil rights movement such as Malcolm X that made EOP program happened. King concluded his speech with, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!”

    Randall Edouard, assistant director and counselor of EOP/AIM, expressed his gratitude to the program saying that he would not have made to college if there were not an EOP/AIM program. “It is not that I might not have made it here, I would have not made it here if it was not for the EOP program.”

    Edouard also gave introduction to Robert James, SUNY Associate Provost for Opportunity Programs. James had worked very hard throughout his professional life to keep the EOP program alive. He has been working for more than 18 years, making sure that EOP gets funding, and educational opportunities are persistently available to EOP students.

    Edouard also paid tribute to EOP/AIM staff for working hard for the program. He specifically thanked Ms. Cheryl Hamilton, director of EOP/AIM, for her tremendous hard work for the program. “My mother used to say you need to give people their roses when they are alive. I would like to throw some artificial roses at your feet [Ms. Hamilton],” Edouard said.

    “She is an extremely modest individual. We work behind her, with her, for her. We appreciate that. As a staff, we love you [Ms. Hamilton],” Edouard said.

    Today, as much as 10,000 students are enrolled in SUNY campuses through EOP program. In addition, more than 50,000 students have earned their degree from SUNY through EOP.

    The ceremony ended with a party and a raffle. Alumni were also invited to the University Cafe for refreshments.

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