GCU Hosts Equal Opportunity Fund Celebration Honoring High-Achievers

New Jersey’s Equal Opportunity Fund—At the Intersection of Access and Success

LAKEWOOD, NJ—More than 760 students from across the state were recognized at the 2014 EOF Graduate Awards Ceremony, held at Georgian Court University, as New Jersey’s Equal Opportunity Fund honored the students’ hard work, tenacity and academic achievements.

“This is a day of grand celebration,” said New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks. “Education is a great equalizer and a great justice-maker. These students have pushed through against the odds.”

Secretary Hendricks remarks came during the annual recognition of EOF students who are graduating from community college or from four-year college and university programs. Those recognized during the Friday, April 25 event were high achievers with grade averages between 3.2 and 4.0. GCU’s own Carol Purdie and Shamirya Richard were among the honorees. Ms. Richard was one of about 380 EOF students with grade averages of 3.5-3.9 while Ms. Purdie was nominated as the GCU senior who best exemplifies the spirit and intent of the Educational Opportunity Fund program.

CAROL PURDIE: Outstanding Achievement Award Winner

Carol Purdie graduated from Henry Snyder High School in Jersey City and earned her social work degree from GCU in May, 2014. Carol underwent surgeries and many other hardships while pursuing her undergraduate degree. However, through it all she still volunteered her services in one of GCU’s Living-Learning Communities and worked as an EOF office student assistant, peer counselor, and residential assistant for the summer residential program. She was a member of GCU Women in Leadership Development (WILD, 2009 – 2010) and received previous GCU/EOF Academic Achievement Awards. Carol plans to attend graduate school.

“These are students who go on to become teachers, doctors, lawyers—you name it,” said Celia Younger, director of the EOF program at Georgian Court University. “More importantly, they go back to their communities. The amount of state funding invested in them—and in the EOF program—is recouped in no time as they graduate and become contributing taxpayers, community leaders, and even small business owners.”

These are students who make their professors proud, added GCU Assistant Provost Mary Chinery.

And while students are the best ambassadors for the EOF program, according to Secretary Hendricks, the counselors, educators and mentors who make the program work also represent its heart and soul.

In addition to Secretary Hendricks, other state leaders at the ceremony included New Jersey EOF board members Bader G. Qarmout, MSW (Newton, Sussex); Lisa K. Pantel, Esq. (Mendham, Morris); Nacovin J. Norman, NCSP, ED.S., M.A. (Woodlynne, Camden); Anthony J. Falcone, CPA, chairperson of Higher Education Student Assistance Authority Board; and Audrey Bennerson, EOF Statewide Director.

“Many students receiving awards are the first in their families to attend college. We are very proud of the students in the EOF family,” said State EOF Program Director Audrey Bennerson. “The success of the students is due to their own hard work, and the dedication and attention to detail paid by the program directors and staff on 41 campuses around the State.”

Each year since 1968, New Jersey has provided EOF resources “to ensure meaningful access to higher education for those who come from backgrounds of economic and educational disadvantage,” according to the state’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. More than 40 New Jersey colleges participate and undergraduate grants range from $200 annually to $2,500 annually, depending on the type of institution and financial need. These grants are renewable based upon students’ continued eligibility.

More than 45 years after its launch, the EOF mission remains relevant, supporters said.

Often, EOF students are the first in their families to attend college and may arrive on campus from some of New Jersey’s most distressed areas. “The schools in their home districts may not be up to par, they may live in decimated communities, and they often endure challenges on top of challenges,” explained Ms. Younger. “EOF brings them into higher education and equips them with the tools to succeed. For them, EOF is an extension of family.”

Reporting by Beth Hunt, Photos by Rich Berardi

 

 

 

New Jersey’s Equal Opportunity Fund—At the Intersection of Access and Success

LAKEWOOD, NJ—More than 760 students from across the state were recognized at the 2014 EOF Graduate Awards Ceremony, held at Georgian Court University, as New Jersey’s Equal Opportunity Fund honored the students’ hard work, tenacity and academic achievements.

“This is a day of grand celebration,” said New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks. “Education is a great equalizer and a great justice-maker. These students have pushed through against the odds.”

Secretary Hendricks remarks came during the annual recognition of EOF students who are graduating from community college or from four-year college and university programs. Those recognized during the Friday, April 25 event were high achievers with grade averages between 3.2 and 4.0. GCU’s own Carol Purdie and Shamirya Richard were among the honorees. Ms. Richard was one of about 380 EOF students with grade averages of 3.5-3.9 while Ms. Purdie was nominated as the GCU senior who best exemplifies the spirit and intent of the Educational Opportunity Fund program.

CAROL PURDIE: Outstanding Achievement Award Winner

Carol Purdie graduated from Henry Snyder High School in Jersey City and earned her social work degree from GCU in May, 2014. Carol underwent surgeries and many other hardships while pursuing her undergraduate degree. However, through it all she still volunteered her services in one of GCU’s Living-Learning Communities and worked as an EOF office student assistant, peer counselor, and residential assistant for the summer residential program. She was a member of GCU Women in Leadership Development (WILD, 2009 – 2010) and received previous GCU/EOF Academic Achievement Awards. Carol plans to attend graduate school.

“These are students who go on to become teachers, doctors, lawyers—you name it,” said Celia Younger, director of the EOF program at Georgian Court University. “More importantly, they go back to their communities. The amount of state funding invested in them—and in the EOF program—is recouped in no time as they graduate and become contributing taxpayers, community leaders, and even small business owners.”

These are students who make their professors proud, added GCU Assistant Provost Mary Chinery.

And while students are the best ambassadors for the EOF program, according to Secretary Hendricks, the counselors, educators and mentors who make the program work also represent its heart and soul.

In addition to Secretary Hendricks, other state leaders at the ceremony included New Jersey EOF board members Bader G. Qarmout, MSW (Newton, Sussex); Lisa K. Pantel, Esq. (Mendham, Morris); Nacovin J. Norman, NCSP, ED.S., M.A. (Woodlynne, Camden); Anthony J. Falcone, CPA, chairperson of Higher Education Student Assistance Authority Board; and Audrey Bennerson, EOF Statewide Director.

“Many students receiving awards are the first in their families to attend college. We are very proud of the students in the EOF family,” said State EOF Program Director Audrey Bennerson. “The success of the students is due to their own hard work, and the dedication and attention to detail paid by the program directors and staff on 41 campuses around the State.”

Each year since 1968, New Jersey has provided EOF resources “to ensure meaningful access to higher education for those who come from backgrounds of economic and educational disadvantage,” according to the state’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. More than 40 New Jersey colleges participate and undergraduate grants range from $200 annually to $2,500 annually, depending on the type of institution and financial need. These grants are renewable based upon students’ continued eligibility.

More than 45 years after its launch, the EOF mission remains relevant, supporters said.

Often, EOF students are the first in their families to attend college and may arrive on campus from some of New Jersey’s most distressed areas. “The schools in their home districts may not be up to par, they may live in decimated communities, and they often endure challenges on top of challenges,” explained Ms. Younger. “EOF brings them into higher education and equips them with the tools to succeed. For them, EOF is an extension of family.”

Reporting by Beth Hunt, Photos by Rich Berardi

 

 

 

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