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University News

State Gives EOF Its Own Day to Shine

For five decades, program has provided college access and opportunities for disadvantaged students

Posted in: Homepage News, University

Recent graduate in cap and gown waving eof scarf above her head
Shantelle Jones ’19, celebrates her EOF achievements.

As a way to share the countless success stories of students who because of the Educational Opportunity Fund were able to attend college, April 9 has been designated EOF Awareness Day in the State of New Jersey.

EOF has made college attainable over the past five decades for thousands of students facing academic and financial challenges – or as Reynaldo Acevedo ’95 recently described to state lawmakers, it is a program that provides “opportunities of a lifetime.”

Acevedo, the assistant principal at Passaic High School, shared his personal story during a hearing on the state budget. Acevedo recounted how EOF helped him attend college even though growing up, raised by a single mother on public assistance, it had seemed out of reach to do so.

“We faced many urban challenges daily. That life was the norm,” Acevedo said. “Clearly, I was not from any type of family with a financial situation that could pay for college and there were not many positive role models encouraging us to be leaders and serve others.”

His experience is emblematic of the stories of other educationally and economically disadvantaged students, many the first in their families to attend college, who are EOF scholars at one of New Jersey’s 42 state-funded programs. A rigorous six-week summer academy provides incoming students with skills, resources and counseling that contribute to keeping close to 90% of the first-year students in school.

The challenges of the coronavirus crisis, including its health and economic impact, has brought into focus the barriers and distractions students face as they apply, enroll and eventually acclimate to college. “We engage them as much as we can, knowing that this is a tough circumstance for all of us,” says Assistant Provost for Special Programs Daniel Jean.

EOF Awareness Day aims to spotlight the scholars who have benefited from EOF services and supports to achieve their personal and professional goals since its founding in 1968. Watch for their stories on social media under the hashtag #IamEOFNJ.

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Story by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren