Michelly Meza-Benitez ’23 is one of 46 students in SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) to receive the 2023 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.
Meza-Benitez is a sociology major from Brooklyn and a first-generation student, the first member of her family to attend college. She is co-president of the Latinx Student Association and a Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women (JFEW) scholar. She also serves as an Academic Peer Mentor for the Dean of Academic Planning and Advising office.
Meza-Benitez attended an award ceremony in Albany on April 17. The award, now celebrating its fourth class of awardees, is named in memory of Norman R. McConney Jr., a graduate of the University at Albany and former assistant dean for special programs at SUNY, who helped create the EOP as a statewide program.
“This award means so much more to me than my just my successes here at Geneseo—it's recognition of the support system behind me,” says Meza-Benitez. “As part of the EOP program, I have been able to get endless opportunities and support that has allowed me to reach higher than I had anticipated for my college career. I am forever grateful to be part of the Access Opportunity Program family under EOP."
Since 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. The EOP has served more than 80,000 students and evolved into one of the country's most successful college access programs.