SUNY Geneseo student Tshering Sherpa ’21 was one of 45 students in SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) to receive the Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence. The award recognizes outstanding EOP students for their academic achievements and overcoming personal obstacles throughout their lives.
Sherpa, who is double majoring in psychology and international relations and has a minor in Spanish, is a first-generation college student and plans to become a human rights lawyer.
“Each of these students has a story that deserves to be heard; they are outstanding scholars who have displayed great strength and tenacity in their pursuit of academic success, amid what are often extreme personal hardships," said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras. "It is for them that SUNY's Educational Opportunity Program exists, and it is at the heart of our mission to level the playing field and give every student a fair chance to succeed. My congratulations to our honorees for earning this recognition as they prepare to graduate and start to change the world—I look forward to seeing what they do next. Norman McConney would be very proud of each and every one of them."
“Even though my EOP counselor, Bryan Rivera, notified me about the nomination, I was still surprised that I received it, considering the brilliant and hardworking peers that I have gotten to know over the years at Geneseo,” says Sherpa. “In my opinion, the award not only reflects my individual recognition but also recognizes the hard work, diligence, and determination of the counselors and faculty members that assist students in every step of life to achieve their dream and to fulfill their goals. Overall, I believe this award is not only recognition for my success but represents the success of the EOP family and program that I was fortunate to be a part of.”
Sherpa says Geneseo has become a home away from home and has provided her with opportunities she never dreamed of, including being a research assistant in the Department of Psychology, a resident assistant, a resident assistant for International Student Experience, a McNair Scholar, a Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women SUNY Global Affairs Scholar, and a career peer mentor. She also earned a Fund for Education Abroad scholarship to live with a host family in Spain to study Spanish. She also earned the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study in Thailand in spring 2021.
“Overall, these experiences have enabled me to interact with people from different cultures, broadening my ability to think critically and value thinking that differs from my own to foster growth,” says Sherpa. Of her career plans, she says she aspires “to work on the refugee and immigration crisis by advocating, challenging discrimination, and defending the rights and freedom of underrepresented people.”
Norman R. McConney Jr. was an assistant dean for special programs at SUNY and, alongside former Assembly Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve, helped create the EOP as a statewide program that has so far served 75,000 New Yorkers from underprivileged backgrounds.