Educational Opportunity Fund Program
With more than a half-century of combined service to Montclair State between them, recently retired Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program counselors Delores McMorrin and Lorraine Whitaker advised, guided and mentored hundreds of students and changed the lives of many.
“I learned so much from [them],” says Ramon Williams ’91. “I don’t know where I would be without their guidance; it is doubtful I would have completed my studies at Montclair State if they weren’t there.”
Best friends since long before coming to Montclair State, the Newark natives were colleagues at EOF for more than 25 years. McMorrin started at Montclair State in 1985 as the coordinator of the EOF Legal Studies Program and taught courses in what is now the Department of Political Science and Law. Whitaker, learning of the opening from McMorrin, joined EOF as a counselor a few years later in 1989.
Renowned for their wisdom, caring and unconditional support of their students, the two counselors were influential in the lives of hundreds of students, giving personal attention and individualized guidance to each.
“Dr. McMorrin encouraged me to apply for a semester-long internship through this program at a law firm in Washington, D.C.,” recalls Lester E. Taylor III ’97, mayor of East Orange, New Jersey, and partner with Florio Perrucci Steinhardt & Fader, LLC. “Dr. McMorrin knew the importance of experiential learning opportunities and she guided me to get more involved in campus activities and volunteer initiatives that would substantially enhance my entire undergraduate experience. Ultimately, her influence and commitment inspired me to not only pursue my professional goals with confidence and rigor, but with a sense of passion and purpose.”
McMorrin and Whitaker – while firmly holding their students to high standards – were also known for their warmth and easygoing manner. “The EOF office was the one place I felt completely comfortable and safe on campus,” recalls Williams. “Ms. McMorrin and Ms. Whitaker were both so genuinely warm and kind, I thought of them like extended family.”
Says Kelly Smith ’89, a child custody mediator with the Superior Court of New Jersey in Newark for the past 23 years: “I was very fortunate to be in the company of Delores McMorrin. [She] taught me to be bold and fearless in my pursuit of academic excellence.”
As a student, Smith took an internship with the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law and remembers McMorrin encouraging her to make the most of the opportunity. “Professor McMorrin said, ‘This is your path. Immerse yourself in Washington, D.C., and establish a career path by networking in legal and political circles. When you are done, bring your experience back to your community,’” says Smith. “My summer internship changed my life and catapulted my interest in children’s advocacy.”
Now in retirement, the two friends continue to keep in touch with former students and support the EOF program, while also spending time with family and friends – and McMorrin continues to teach at the University.
Echoing the sentiments of many of McMorrin and Whitaker’s former students, Williams says, “Of course there were some awesome folk at Montclair State while I was there, but they were two of the most important for me.”