Higher Education Programs Face Budget Cuts

Back in January the governor proposed budget cuts to educational programs statewide.

“For HEOP specifically, there is a proposed cut of approximately $6 million” said Mary Canto Rice Assistant Director of the Center for Multicultural Affairs/HEOP.

Some other programs included, “NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), Enhanced Tuition Assistance Awards (ETA), Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP), Liberty Partnership Programs (LPP) and the Foster Youth Care Success Initiative (FYCSI)” according to Rice.

In addition the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) is expected to lose $6 million dollars from their overall budget which is $41 million. After budget cuts the state funded program would be left with an overall budget of $35 million dollars annually. Students that are enrolled in the HEOP program also receive financial support from the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) in addition to their HEOP financial package.

“It is difficult to predict how the cuts could affect HEOP students until the budget has been passed and programs know exactly how much funding they have to work with” Rice said.

The HEOP program is designed to provide New York State students with a range of resources throughout their college career. Students enrolled in the HEOP program would otherwise not be able to attend college due to their academic or financial circumstances.

HEOP is similar to other Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP), the difference between the two is EOP is for state schools in the SUNY system while HEOP is for private institutions. Private college institutions that house HEOP programs are responsible for providing students with academic support, assistance in paying for their tuition, supplemental financial aid, and providing any additional funds needed to complete the student’s graduation requirements.

Students who apply for the HEOP program will indicate this in their college common application. In order to be accepted into the HEOP program students must meet both the financial criteria for the household along with the academic requirements. Students are offered admission to the program without regard to their race, religious affiliation, disability status, marital status, or their sexual orientation.

Although the budget has not been finalized as of yet, Rice is moving forward, “I have been involved with HEOP specifically for about 15 years.  It is challenging to have to deal with proposed cuts but that comes with the territory of working with state-funded programs sometimes.”

Despite the idea of possible budget cuts looming in the air Rice chose to keep her head up and look at the positives. “HEOP is an overwhelmingly successful program; we have 50 years of documented data that supports what our advocacy message is: “HEOP WORKS.”

In the fall 2019 semester the HEOP program will be celebrating 50 year of success and achievement. This event is one staff and students are looking forward to celebrating.

Darriel McBride, HEOP alum says, “I look forward to celebrating 50 years of HEOP because if it wasn’t for HEOP I would have not been able to attended college.”

Rice wants to ease the tensions of current enrolled students that way they will be able to focus on what is important and that is their education.

She offers these tips for HEOP students, “Stay informed. Educate others. Be an advocate. Stay positive. HEOP is celebrating 50 years of success and we are planning to be here for another 50!”

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Shawn C. Best leads an engaging discussion about our values and the impacts of being emotionally intelligent 

Marist students jumped out of their seats to participate in an interactive leadership workshop led by guest speaker Shawn C. Best. This lecture sponsored by the Center for Multicultural Affairs as a part of their intersectionality and access series.

Best, university director for the CUNY black male initiative, defined emotional intelligence simply as, “Awareness, transparency, and risk. All three are important because it’s not comfortable necessarily to delve into emotions all of the time.”

To kick off the workshop, attendees were instructed to line up in order of their birthdays without speaking to each other. The goal of this activity was to illustrate how society communicates with one another through verbal and nonverbal cues. Through this activity, participants had to increase their own level of self-awareness.

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Increasing self-awareness is the first step towards becoming emotionally intelligent. Growing up, kids are taught right from wrong in the world, but they may not have been taught how to respond or react when faced with difficult situations or emotions.

“As a kid, I saw difficult conversations that my family wasn’t willing to have openly, such as money issues or to be involved with the religious services in our church.” Best explains that growing up in a strict household he wished he could have been open and honest with his family to discuss these difficult topics and then offer his opinion. Through this, he might have been able to establish transparency within his family and lend a helping hand.

He believes, “The more you are aware, the more you are able to actually identify where your actions come from and why they happen.”  Best explained that at one point during his college career he observed other students relationships with their parents and the open dialogue they shared. That sparked him to think, “Maybe I should try this, even if it means the risk of failing or being spanked as a twenty-one-year-old.” Best took a risk without fear of failure, to be emotionally intelligent you need to take risks without fear but accept that the outcome might be rejection or acceptance.

The next step to increase emotional intelligence is finding balance. “I had come to this place of equilibrium. To understand there are moments where I need to be hardline and tell you what needs to happen logically. And there are times where I need to open up and share myself emotionally.”

After the workshop concluded, attendees stayed to continue conversations. Many students and faculty members were inspired by the concept of emotional intelligence and how impactful it is in our everyday life.

Robin Torres, Assistant Dean of Student Engagement and Leadership, was amazed by the workshop and felt that it was a game changer for many students. However, what resonated the most with her was how “our earliest memories make such a key impact on us and can be traced back to our values.”

Sophomore Durashahwar Ahmed learned that “it’s okay to ask for what you want.” Although, sophomore Aicha Sylla, seemed to really enjoy how, “interactive and engaging the workshop was.”

Claudette McCullers, a sophomore, felt like, “you have to invest in yourself, even if you fail. At least you tried.” Seems like McCullers understands what it means to take risks without fear of failure.