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Helping students in need reach higher
Story By Jim Bisco : Photos By Douglas Levere, BA '89
You hear it in the voices of successful lawyers, doctors and other professionals, grateful for the opportunities afforded them in their pursuit of a college education. And you hear it in the voices of today’s students trying to carve their own niche of the dream, despite backgrounds of limited financial resources and poor academic preparation.
“The EOP played an important role in shaping who I am today. My counselor kept me informed of scholarship opportunities and programs that would help me pursue my passion for social justice. Today, I am that lawyer and remain committed to the EOP.”Lourdes Ventura, JD ’98, MSW ’98 & BA ’94, counsel to the New York State Senate Minority Leader
Having established access to a college education for those in need in its decades as a private institution, UB opened its doors even wider after joining the SUNY system in the 1960s. In doing so, it made public higher education possible for students with the potential and drive to succeed despite financial and academic obstacles. A broad range of programs and services has since paved the way to a UB education for thousands of those economically disadvantaged and historically underrepresented.
From his inauguration as president in 2004 to his current advocacy of funding reform, John B. Simpson has championed further avenues of access, enrichment and support.
The three main access programs are the Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), the Academic Challenge and Enrichment (ACE) individualized admissions program and Student Support Services (SSS), a federally funded TRIO program that assists low-income, first generation students and students with disabilities. They are part of the Center for Academic Development Services (CADS), a unique support network of ten programs at UB that helps talented students from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds and involves them in all aspects of university life.
The EOP is the oldest access program at UB, established in 1968, and the largest EOP program in New York State. It provides a vehicle for admission for state residents and a range of academic and advising support services.
“We think of ourselves as a family. We provide extensive academic, personal, social and financial assistance,” says EOP associate director H. William Coles, PhD ’84, MA ’79 & BA ’69. “These are bright kids who need the kind of environment that says, ‘Hey, you can do it, and we are here to help.’”
“I think we’re seeing more alumni who live outside Western New York sending their kids back to UB because of their own positive experiences.”Letitia Thomas, PhD ’06, MA ’00 & EdM ’93, assistant vice provost, director of the Cora P. Maloney College and director of the UB Bridge to the Doctorate program
ACE is among the newest access programs, initiated six years ago for first-time freshmen who do not meet the regular admissions requirement, but who do show great potential for academic success. The program enhances diversity at UB by welcoming a broader range of academically talented students.
Programs like the EOP have stringent financial qualifications for those who are accepted. “Financially, they have to be very, very poor, [with] family incomes no more than 150 percent of [the] poverty [level],” says Henry Durand, senior associate vice provost of undergraduate education and executive director of CADS.
Program access extends to those high school students who are evaluated as being both educationally and financially disadvantaged, but who demonstrate the talent and ability to succeed in a college curriculum.
Other CADS programs are in the areas of academic enrichment and support, including the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) that provides minority and/or economically disadvantaged students with the opportunity to explore scientific, technical and health-related professions; and the Public Internship Program that gives students the opportunity to gain direct exposure to and practical experience from a diverse range of public, private, government or community service agencies and businesses.
"The support that ACE offers is such a helping hand to achieving your goals.” Jane Bassatt-Winchell, MSW ’08 & BA ’06, social worker for a Buffalo child and adolescent services agency
To illustrate the significance of the university’s access enrollment, the total number of students in all of the CADS programs is nearly 20 percent of UB’s undergraduate population. CADS students are members of deans’ lists and also honor societies, and are recognized nationally and statewide.
UB also provides windows of opportunity to everyone from adult learners through the preparatory programs for two and four-year collegiate experiences in the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC), to middle and high school students in area school districts through various programs of college-level study.
The recent pre-K–16 partnership with the Buffalo Public Schools has broadened this community effort by coordinating diverse resources at UB to increase the number of students interested in and ready for college through UB’s newly established Center for Educational Collaboration to accelerate, engage and prepare students for success in college and beyond.
The university’s many avenues that access higher education continue to flourish in the experiences of a cross-section of current UB students whose voices of achievement follow.
I’m from the Greater Los Angeles area, from a Mexican-American family, the only one to go to college. It was going to be a struggle for my family to pay for college.
A mentorship in high school encouraged me to seek a college anywhere because my grades and test scores were good enough. I typed in “most diverse schools in America” as a search and UB came up as one of the top schools. UB said we want you, we want this diversity in our school. It felt more welcome.
I like the atmosphere here; there’s no status separation. It’s exciting to see everyone grow in their own way.
I’ve been interested in psychology since eighth grade. I was around a lot of different people who did a lot of things considered out of the norm or even deviant. I guess it was my inclination to always want to figure somebody out, to justify them.
All the support services that I’ve gotten were invaluable to me in obtaining my undergraduate degree. My plan is to get my master’s by June and continue on to the PhD program here. The end ideal is that we get PhDs and become professors, hopefully at this institution.
I’ve had a couple of teachers that have made me want to become a teacher. If I could teach science that way, then maybe we’d have a lot more kids coming out of inner-city schools who want to be engineers. I want to be able to give back to the educational system that gave me what I have today.
This program was a godsend. UB is good at disseminating information on co-ops and internships. They’re giving us all the support that we need to continue our education on our own merit.
I am originally from Ghana. I had a seven-year-old sister who mistakenly drank rat poison. She had a kidney transplant but she died a week later due to an underdose of the medications.
It has always been my passion to become a pharmacist to help improve the efficacy of drugs and alleviate drug toxicity, thus achieving a better health-care system to save many lives. My only sister could be living if simple medication errors could have been eliminated. I believe the future of medicine should be individualization of medications. Thus, the doctor would give you the right medication due to a test, not a medication due to “trial and error.”
UB has everything to help a student succeed but you have to be willing to go get it. CSTEP, SSS and [the] Acker Scholars [Program] have been my backbone since I came to UB in 2005. Faculty welcomes students, and whatever you ask, your questions are answered. They always pave the way for you to become successful.
My mother is Haitian. She had to stop working when I was 12. She’s a single mother and would have never been able to pay for college. I did really well in high school so I was going for a scholarship. UB gave me a full Daniel Acker scholarship, which paid for my tuition, with grants for room and board.
The Louis Stokes Alliance exposed me to the benefits and different scholarships of graduate school. I never knew what a PhD could do for you until I got into that program.
I love UB. Teachers are always willing to help. After getting my PhD, I would like to do electric propulsion. Hopefully, I will be able to work for NASA. My ultimate goal is to become an astronaut, to explore the moon and different planets.
My father was in construction. I was always a hands-on type of guy and an A student in high school. As I was growing up, he pushed me to go into engineering; he said that I could always go into construction on my own time. So that’s what started my whole engineering career.
UB caught my eye because it is one of the top schools in civil engineering. Then I had the opportunity to go into the EOP. Not only would the EOP help me pay for college, but it also would provide me with full access to tutors, counselors and computers.
During my freshman year in high school, my father went for a walk one evening and never returned. To this day, his disappearance is a mystery. My mom was having a great deal of financial problems earlier this year, and we were about to lose our house. Dr. [H. William] Coles intervened with the bank and the Veterans Administration to get the loan modified. He also encouraged my mom to get another job. We can now afford the house. You get very personal help through the EOP.
UB’s collection of support programs responds to a variety of student needs, from financial and academic, to undergrad to doctoral. Here is a sample list with Web links for complete details.
Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) http://wings.buffalo.edu/eop
Academic Challenge and Enrichment (ACE) Program http://ace.buffalo.edu
Student Support Services (SSS)
Educational Opportunity Center (EOC)
Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) http://cpmc.buffalo.edu/cstep.html
Daniel Acker Scholars Program
SUNY Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation http://cpmc.buffalo.edu/stokes.html
Graduate Educational Opportunity Program (GEOP) www.grad.buffalo.edu/costs/geop.php
Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program http://honors.buffalo.edu/honorablemention/mcnair-scholars-program
Cora P. Maloney College
Public Internship Program
CADS Tutorial Lab