While many incoming college freshmen have spent the summer relaxing and preparing for their first semester on campus, dozens of students in Brookdale’s Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program have spent the past few months hard at work.
The students, members of the annual EOF Summer Bridge program, have been developing their writing, reading and math skills in an effort to make the most of their college experience when they arrive on campus in the fall.
After weeks of classes, homework assignments and personal development workshops, the students were officially recognized by EOF faculty and staff during an annual convocation ceremony in the Student Life Center on Aug. 14.
“You all were willing to make a sacrifice, to persist and to say, ‘I know this is worth it.’ And we want to thank you for that,” said Brookdale’s EOF Director Richard Morales Wright. “We are extremely proud of what you have been able to do.”
Wright also took time out to acknowledge the EOF advisors, instructors and support staff who worked alongside the students throughout this summer. Together, he said, the EOF Summer Bridge program helped countless students “test out” of developmental coursework, effectively giving them a head start on the road to a college degree.
For the first time in the program’s history, Wright added, the majority of the students who completed the Summer Bridge reading program earned a change in placement at the college.
“That is just remarkable,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure you are ready to roll into you first term, feeling confident and energized and ready to go. I think we have a group of students here who have that attitude, and we could not be more proud of you all.”
This summer, the members of the EOF Program’s new Rising Leaders Academy did some hard work of their own – collecting more than 1,000 books for the nonprofit Bridge of Books organization.
The initiative, led by EOF Rising Leaders members Victor De Los Santos and Andre Carvalho, stretched across every Brookdale campus and Higher Education Center. This month De Los Santos and Carvahlo helped deliver more than 300 of the donated books to youngsters attending the Rumson Country Day School’s annual summer program.
“The kids just swamped us at the table. It was incredible,” said De Los Santos, who along with Carvalho volunteers as a Civic Engagement Coordinator with the Rising Leaders program. “They were all really happy in the end.”
De Los Santos, one of more than 400 EOF students currently enrolled at Brookdale, said the program has had a tremendous impact on both his personality and his professional goals.
“It turned me around,” said De Los Santos, who now serves as a student ambassador and member of the Brookdale Student Conduct Board. “My first year here, I never spoke to anyone. I never utilized any of the resources that were on campus.
“Mr. Morales was the one who reached out to me and encouraged me to really explore,” he added. “That has made a huge difference for me. I know what I want to do now; I’m focused and working toward my goal.”
To learn more about Brookdale’s EOF program, click here. For more information on the state-wide EOF program, which currently reaches more than 11,000 total students at 41 colleges across New Jersey, click here.
Click here for more pictures of the EOF Convocation Ceremony.
FEATURED PHOTO: Victor De Los Santos, student development associate Catherine Cutlip and Andre Carvalho talk during the EOF Convocation Ceremony on Aug. 14.