Opportunity programs grow in positive direction
By Bryan Clark, Alfred University Communications Office Intern
Nadine Shardlow ’86 explains that opportunity program leaders at Alfred University sometimes stand outside classrooms to check student attendance. If necessary, they go to residence halls to motivate absent students to get up and go to class.
Shardlow says the in-your-face approach coupled with faculty communication forms the programs’ student support system.
“We’re their family away from home,” says Shardlow, Alfred University’s director of Opportunity Programs since 2000.
HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) and EOP (Education Opportunity Program) provide a broad range of services to NYS residents who, because of academic and economic circumstances, would otherwise be unable to attend a postsecondary educational institution. According to NYSED.gov, opportunity program students graduate at a rate 6.5 percent greater than the national graduation rate for all students.
Students must meet NYS-mandated economic guidelines and educational eligibility criteria for admission to the programs. Students who are residents of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maryland, Michigan and the District of Columbia may use their state grants at Alfred University.
Alfred opportunity program staff members help students build a college career academic plan, offer tutoring services, and teach them the best ways to study, take notes, and gain textbook knowledge.
Shardlow explains a four-and-a-half week summer program puts all first-year opportunity program students through math, reading, writing and study skills classes. Group activities help the students better understand themselves and the Alfred community. In addition, she says, the students go on fun and educationally based trips including the Corning Museum of Glass, Penn’s Cave in Centre Hall, PA and other experiences they normally would not have access to.
Shardlow says she feels the programs’ campus reputation has improved as students have emerged as leaders on campus as members of organizations and residence hall assistants. Since she became director, the program has increased from 36 students in fall 2000 to 86 students this past spring.
Her future goals for the programs include enrolling 100 students in the programs, having 85 percent of the HEOP/EOP students regularly maintaining a grade point average of 2.0 or higher, and increasing the graduation rate by 5 percent.
Shardlow says she hopes the students appreciate what’s offered to them.
“I wish when I was a student here that the programs had been here,” says the 1986 graduate. “That extra support is awful nice.”
Shardlow says her work with student opportunity programs makes her feel rewarded.
“It’s always so refreshing when an alumnus calls me on the phone to thank me years after they’ve graduated,” she says, adding, “I love what I do.”