Students laud benefits of HEOP

Genesis Vanderhorst

Students involved in HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) at Alfred University are strong advocates for the program. Several of them took time before leaving campus this spring to talk about their experiences. 

“HEOP has helped me become a successful college student by providing me with the necessary resources to succeed, such as counselors that are there for me and always lend an ear to me when I need it,” said Jordyn Larkins of Rochester. 

“Coming here in July (freshman year when HEOP students gather on campus for four-and-a-half weeks for sessions in math, reading, writing and study skills classes) really helped me build a network of friends so that it would not be such a shock when the rest of the students arrived,” remembered Larkins. “The HEOP Program has also helped me learn how to manage my time and stay on top of things like Financial Aid, and meeting with my teachers and advisers. This program has given me that extra push, by knowing that if I don't succeed and do the things expected of me as a student, then the gift of HEOP can be taken away.

Jordyn Larkins“HEOP will assist me in pursuing a career because it not only has taught me how to be a student, but also how to be a better leader,” she continued. “I am a member of the HEOP Student Council and the chosen voice to represent my class (2013). That takes a certain level of responsibility and maturity, which H/EOP has helped instill in me since day one. Time management, punctuality, and responsibility, are all good characteristics of a student, but are also good characteristics of any young leaders as well. These are a few of the things that HEOP teaches us in preparation for life after college.

“HEOP has helped me develop as a person through teaching me responsibility and how to lead,” Larkins emphasized. “Just the simple fact that I was chosen to be in the HEOP family has taught me a since of appreciation because there are a lot of students who would love to be in the position that I am right now. I realize that this program is truly a blessing, and I respect the counselors and the program, because I didn't have to be chosen.

Larkins is a member of the AU Gospel Choir and is the Female Sprint Captain on the track & field team … “Track has been a part of my life since middle school; I don’t know what I would do without the team. Other than the HEOP Staff, I have learned a lot from my track & field coach (William Sortore). He has taught me a lot about self-discipline because he does not baby our track team, but expects us to essentially lead ourselves during practice … He has also taught me how to become more responsible, and has helped me grow not only as an athlete but as a young woman.” 

“I’m not sure that being a part of Alfred University has changed my mind about myself, but I would say that it has helped me learn more about myself. Being at college, this is the first time in my life that I have been away from my family, as it is for most college students. Alfred has taught me how I handle situations without my mother overseeing my every move. I realize how I deal with conflicts, and it has really heightened a since of self-motivation, because it is so easy to do things like skip class, and develop a since of laziness because there is no adult figure. 

“As a result, college life has prepped me to become an adult and make decisions on my own, which is exactly what I will be doing after college when I find a career and truly live on my own.

This summer Larkins is participating in an internship with the Rochester Rhinos Soccer Team. 

Emmanuel Marte will be a junior in the School of Art & Design when he returns to campus this fall.

Emmanuel Marte“The HEOP program has made me a more successful student because of its summer program. Before coming up to Alfred I was nervous about the fact that I was going to be ‘on my own’ — or at least without my family or friends. It’s completely natural for any student to go through this phase because of changes, but I believe I wouldn't feel as comfortable on campus if I had come in late August rather than mid-July when the program began. During that time, I adjusted to my new surroundings and began to develop a network of friends that I know would support me and each other when our fall semester began.

“HEOP will assist me in my career because they are connected with every staff member/school/office on campus. If I wanted to know anything regarding summer jobs, internships, or requesting the information of a professor that will help me in my major, the counselors will automatically provide that for me and I am very grateful for that. Although the CDC (Career Development Center) helps students in their careers, HEOP does it from a more personal perspective. They really want to get into the core of what I really want to do with my life.

“HEOP has helped me become a much more confident student. One of the many things Nadine or 'Momma' (see related story) told us is that we as students shouldn't be afraid to ask, there is no such thing as a stupid question. This mindset has helped me learn much both inside the classroom and outside. I've also developed an appetite to learn more, see more, and experience more which has made me learn more about myself.

“Since my freshman year I have been a part of Poder Latino. Coming from a Hispanic background, I wanted to share my culture amongst other students. I think being part of this organization and trying to teach other students who are both Hispanic and non-Hispanic is exciting and rewarding in many ways. 

“I believe being at Alfred really hasn't changed my mind, but rather developed it more. It was the perfect ‘push’ to help be more aware of how I should develop as a student and use my time wisely while I am here.

“I first heard about Alfred in my sophomore year of high school. I think I was searching for art schools in New York and decided to click on Alfred’s website. Their ceramics program was incredible and the undergraduate BFA seemed challenging and rewarding. That’s what brought me here, and I am never going to regret it.”

Nickelina NoelNickelina Noel of Brooklyn graduated this spring as a communications major. She believes HEOP offered “a strong support system featuring counselors and friends whom I knew I could rely on, a staff I was not afraid to share my hopes, dreams and future endeavors with, without fear of being mocked or rebuffed.”

She too agrees the summer program was a great benefit.

“I had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the campus, the town and its warm inhabitants. 

“HEOP has made the possibility of my chosen career more real than anything I imagined. College would not have been a plausible option if it were not for HEOP.

“The HEOP staff has inspired me tremendously. My accomplishments would not have been possible if it were not for their encouragements and self-esteem boosts. Their encouragements made me the person I am today. “

“I wouldn’t say that being here at AU has changed my mind about myself but instead amplified it. I already was the child my mother never had to worry much about among her four. I was well aware of social constructions, corruption, a little about love and human nature. Being here at Alfred and away from home helped me learn more about those things and how I fit in with it all. 

“I learned a lot from my professor Chad Harriss. His courses have always challenged me and influenced my decisions to pursue the career that I currently am. His courses tend to be media related where my peers and I engage in popular culture, technology and social media. I have taken more courses with him than anyone else on campus and I have to admit that his methods of teaching are exceptional.

Nickelina was an involved student. She is the founder and former president of the first fashion and sewing club on campus. She was features editor for the Fiat Lux (student newspaper) for a year, hosted her own radio show in 2010, and organized club events, fundraisers, and public relations campaigns.

This summer Nickelina is waiting to hear about graduate school acceptance.

Victor M. Osorio, from the Bronx, said HEOP helped acclimate him to the hectic life of a college student. 

“The supportive HEOP staff helped me understand how important concepts like planning, balancing, and studying really were. Had it not been for the academic and emotional support they offered me I wouldn't have had such an amazing first-year experience.

Victor Osorio“The staff and students in HEOP don’t just act as a family away from home they also act as a great networking group. I am sure that HEOP will assist me finding more opportunities relevant to what I want to do in the future. I say this with confidence because the staff knows the interest of all the students. If they hear of an internship opportunity they would automatically think of a person that would love and learn tremendously by it.

Osorio is a member of Drawn to Diversity (D2D). “One of the main messages in D2D is that problems can be solved by creative problem solving,” he explained. “This interested me because I feel that’s what my community should have instilled in me. I will continue to participate in D2D, as well as raise awareness in my community about creative problem solving.

Osorio is working as a resident assistant for Alfred University summer session programs. 

How did you learn about Alfred University? Random College Board test. The test said Alfred would be one of the best matches for me and they were right!

Genesis Vanderhorst is a junior from Ozone Park. She said HEOP has helped her to become a successful college student “because of the connection I have with the counselors and my HEOP peers. They help me when I’m in need for support, they are there for me when I need to vent, and most importantly when I have questions about life and obstacles that I may come across. 

“They make things clearer for me and guide me into a direction. This entire year I've been going to just about every faculty member for advice on what career path to follow and have talked about it most with my HEOP counselors. They know me better than any other faculty member and are able to put me at ease when I become frustrated at myself for not knowing what major to pick. 

“I recently had an appointment with Nadine. For some unexplained reason I felt it was more than necessary for me to talk to her,” explained Vanderhorst. “She’s a strong and extremely intelligent woman and I knew that somehow she would be able to help me at least eliminate some of the possible majors that I had in mind. And she did. 

“HEOP has helped me develop in ways that I would not have been able to do on my own,” maintained Vanderhorst. “Aside from supporting me in economical and motivational aspects, HEOP has helped me become a more aware and accepting individual. I have been taught to love in ways that I never could have if I would have never met my HEOP counselors. 

Vanderhorst has been involved in numerous extracurricular activities including Boxing Club, D2D, Gospel Choir, and Poder Latino, as the current president. 

“I have been a peer leader for this year's first-year students and I was in the ANT (Alfred's Newest Talent) Program on campus. During the summer program it was drilled into my class to take advantage of any opportunities that may cross us on campus and I have made sure to do just this during my years here in Alfred. I personally enjoy exploring and learning from experiences and opportunities outside of the classroom and these clubs that I have been involved with are ones who have captivated my attention and personal interests. 

“I love being physically fit and that's my primary reason for joining the boxing club. I was involved with D2D because it was a way for me to spread awareness in the community. I love to sing and therefore participated in the Gospel Choir for a while. I joined Poder Latino because I was born in the Dominican Republic and I knew it would be a good environment for me to express myself with others who understood my background. 

“I became a peer leader because I wanted to see how I would learn from the course with an outsider's perspective and how I could implement the importance of getting involved on campus and all the opportunities presented to students outside of the classroom to my first year students. I have to say my peer leading experience helped me a lot. My public speaking skills have improved, I made new friends, I was able to get a better sense of appreciation for music, and I was able to share my short-term study abroad experience with my class which was awesome. 

“Alfred University has made me realize that I am capable of so much more than I can possibly fathom. I’ve been involved a lot this past year and even though at times it became extremely difficult I overcame those obstacles and succeeded. Best of all I know that I am recognized for my achievements. I know so many people now and have such a good relationship with some of the faculty that I know I am never truly alone here. I have always been one to stress the importance of setting goals and the ability of achieving them and Alfred University has made it possible for me to confirm those beliefs, I truly am capable of achieving what ever I set my mind too. 

“This summer I will be working in the city and in mid-July I hope to go to Ecuador with my best friend.

“I didn’t learn about Alfred University until I got here. It was actually a mistake for me to get accepted because I thought I was applying to Alfred State College on the common application. Then, I received a letter from Alfred University and realized on my trip to check out the school that there were two schools named Alfred. So the entire time I thought I had applied to a state college. I was accepted into the HEOP program and everything fell into place from there. It was the best decision I ever made.”

Read about HEOP alums










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