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SUNY Celebrates the Achievements of 45 EOP Students Honored with the Norman R. McConney, Jr. Award for Student Excellence

April 14, 2022

Award Recognizes Educational Opportunity Program Students for Academic Excellence and Strength in Overcoming Personal Obstacles

Students Being Recognized are Named in the 2022 EOP Student Excellence Awards program

Albany, NY – State University of New York announced today the achievements of 45 students in SUNY's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) who are honored with the Norman R. McConney, Jr. Award for Student Excellence. The award, now celebrating its third class of awardees, recognizes outstanding EOP students for their academic merit and strength in overcoming significant personal obstacles throughout their lives.

The honor is named in memory of Norman R. McConney, Jr. (1946–2016), a graduate of the University at Albany and former assistant dean for special programs at SUNY. McConney, alongside former Assembly Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve, helped create the EOP as a statewide program.

In addition to honoring this distinguished group of students, SUNY also acknowledged the achievements of Dr. Allen Ballard, this year's Honorary Norman R. McConney, Jr. EOP Student Excellence Awardee. Professor Emeritus Ballard's work toward developing an open admission program for underrepresented students in the City University of New York led to the launch of SUNY EOP. He is recognized for steadfastly supporting the work of New York State's opportunity programs throughout his tenure at the City College of New York and University at Albany.

"The students we celebrate today have their own story on how they got to SUNY, but they are unified by their incredible perseverance in pursuit of their academic dreams," said SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. "Despite personal hardships, these individuals are driving forward to change the world. My congratulations to this year's awardees and their families both on and off campus, and our humble thanks for the visionary work of former Assembly Deputy Speaker Eve, Mr. McConney, and Dr. Ballard."

SUNY Board Trustee Marcos Crespo said, "SUNY's Educational Opportunity Program has eliminated barriers to a college education for tens of thousands of students. This would not be possible without the ongoing investment and support of The Great State of New York and the many advocates throughout our state government and across SUNY. But the success of EOP also stems from those who participate—those students who work hard every day to accomplish their goal. EOP students stand as role models, they stand on the shoulders of great leaders and pioneers whose vision for equity and empowerment changed lives for the better, and they stand as the continued legacy of this exceptional program."

SUNY Fellow and Alumni Speaker Kalief Metellus said, "As a former Student Government Association president and EOP graduate at SUNY Old Westbury, I carry with me the struggles my peers have confided in me and the challenges our EOP students face every day. I am honored to spearhead the awards this year, because we need to shine a light on those who battle daily food insecurity, housing insecurity, tuition unaffordability, and the many additional costs of living that college students bear. I applaud these students in whose shoes I have walked and look forward to seeing them fly ever higher."

The student speaker will be Meghan Brigham, who graduated in Fall 2021 as an EOP student from SUNY Delhi. Brigham earned both an associate degree in liberal arts and a bachelor's degree in human resource management. She is currently employed as a human resource assistant for CADI, which provides auxiliary services for the SUNY Delhi campus community.

Since its inception in 1967, the EOP has provided access, academic support, and supplemental financial assistance to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. In its 55-year history, the EOP has served more than 78,000 students and evolved into one of the country's most successful college access programs.

About Norman R. McConney, Jr.

SUNY awards Educational Opportunity Program students for their academic achievements in honor of Norman R. McConney, Jr. due to his legacy of public service, which encompassed several statewide initiatives to benefit underrepresented New Yorkers, including programs to prepare minority high school students for careers in the sciences and medicine and scholarships for students underrepresented in the licensed professions. Mr. McConney is also credited with helping found the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus, which later became the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY's 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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