SUNY Geneseo student Karilyn Nieves ’20 was one of 42 students in SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) to receive the inaugural Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence. The award recognizes outstanding EOP students for their academic achievements.
“Through the EOP, SUNY has changed the course of so many lives and has given so many students the chance to excel and pursue their dreams,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “We are enormously proud of the students receiving these awards. Many of them have overcome enormous obstacles to fulfill goals that once may have seemed unattainable. I applaud every one of them for demonstrating perseverance and determination.”
Since its inception in 1967, the EOP has provided access, academic support, and supplemental financial assistance to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of them the first in their families to attend college. In its 52-year history, the EOP has served more than 75,000 students and evolved into one of the country’s most successful college access programs.
In the current academic year, SUNY has more than 11,000 EOP students on 48 SUNY campuses. EOP students often outperform their peers, with 73 percent of them graduating with a baccalaureate degree within six years.
Flossie Stephens, interim director of Geneseo’s Access Opportunity Programs, was pleased to see Nieves’ perseverance recognized. “Karilyn is an example of what it means to be an Educational Opportunity Program student. She exemplifies the challenges and the triumphs of our students, and it warms my heart to see her recognized by the Office of Opportunity Programs and lawmakers.”
“During the past three years I have worked with Karilyn, she has shown tremendous growth academically, personally, and professionally,” said EOP counselor Courtney Havens. “She is a positive, self-motivated, resilient, caring campus leader who has a very successful future ahead.”
The Award of Excellence is named for Norman R. McConney Jr. (1946–2016), a graduate of the University at Albany and former assistant dean for special programs at SUNY, who helped draft the legislation that established the EOP as a statewide program. McConney’s legacy of public service included 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.