Arthur O. Eve, retired New York Assemblyman and Deputy Speaker of New York State's Assembly, fought for the implementation of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). This year, SUNY Buffalo State, where Eve's efforts were first realized, is beginning its celebration of EOP's 50th Anniversary, the program (the program beginning in 1967) and its sister programs throughout the state now referred to as 'The Arthur O. Eve Opportunity Programs'. These programs provide a path for students to enter college, students who otherwise may not have been able to go to college. These college admittance programs provide counseling staff who assure students receive solid academic, career and financial guidance so that they will successfully navigate the rigors of higher education. As most EOP students are 1st generation college students, they often have no family to provide such guidance. I am an EOP graduate of SUNY Buffalo State, and I certainly would never have been able to attend and endure college without Arthur O. Eve's initiative, mostly because of the final service that EOP counselors provide: Personal Counseling.
I have battled with severe OCD for my entire life, and every day of elementary, junior high and high school were hell. I never informed anyone of my OCD until I was 35, so managing school was difficult to say the least. When I entered SUNY Buffalo State, my EOP counselor, Roslyn Berkovitz, immediately helped me grow comfortable with the college atmosphere, and Dr. Berkovitz always made certain that I and all her students knew where to go in order to address issues that arose. What's more, Dr. Berkovitz always made time to listen to me and other students, lending an ear and helping us to learn how to manage stress, anxiety, and a whole range of emotions we were not equipped to confront on our own. Today, EOP and HEOP programs generally have graduation and retention rates higher than their college's general admit students. I believe a major reason for this is because of the personal counseling provided.
For the remainder of my life, I will always be grateful to Dr. Berkovitz for all she did for me, just as I will always be grateful for Arthur O. Eve, whose fight to bring about EOP was ultimately the force that got me into and through college. Now an EOP counselor, I hope to continue their legacy as countless EOP counselors also provide personal support to students in need.
Neil O’Donnell is a Senior EOP Counselor at Buffalo State College where he provides personal, academic and career counseling for students during and after their undergraduate journey. Neil also devotes time to educating communities about Obsessive-compulsive Disorder through discussion of his own battle with OCD. Additionally, Neil is an author of books including The Career-Minded Student and Bellwood, OCD and Me. You can find more of his career and stress management advisement at http://eopcenter.blogspot.com