Every year SUNY welcomes thousands of students into its colleges, universities, and online programs. Each student has a unique background and history. Some students will continue a family legacy of a college education while other students will be the first in their families to pursue and attain a college degree. First-generation students have the honor of introducing a tradition of education into their family’s history. Although this is an exciting opportunity, underserved students face many obstacles that can negatively impact their journey to their postsecondary dreams. Thankfully, SUNY has a history of supporting its most vulnerable populations.
In 1967 the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) was established at SUNY through legislation sponsored by former New York Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve of Buffalo. EOP embodies Arthur O. Eve’s life work to support the needs of underserved communities in creating conduits for students to access and succeed through higher education. To further Arthur O. Eve’s legacy, former SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall created the SUNY Office of Enrollment Management and Student Success. He aimed to support underrepresented and non-traditional students throughout NYS. While this office is only three years old, it has the support of SUNY Opportunity Programs, Enrollment Management, and Diversity Equity and Inclusion offices. For the last two years, an Annual SUNY & CBI Senior Send-Off to support underrepresented students to succeed during their first year and beyond has been produced with great success.
This past May marked the third year of the SUNY & CBI Senior Send-Off, and it was bigger than years prior. More community partners were integrated such as the Eagle Academy Foundation, NYC KIP, SEO Scholars, and Ernest and Young LLP Mentoring for Access and Persistence (MAP) to their partnership with the Student Leadership Network, College Bound Initiative (CBI). This event welcomed over a hundred student attendees from partnering community-based organizations centered in NYC at the SUNY College of Optometry.
The program agenda featured dynamic themes such as diversity equity and inclusion, mental health, and current SUNY student experiences. The presenters included ART Force 5, Thrive NYC and the SUNY Welcome Center’s very own Khalia Banks. Also, two amazing keynotes speakers headlined the event. The speakers are authors Dr. Marcia Canterella and Dr. Edmund Adjapong. They discussed the importance of building meaningful relationships on college campuses and utilizing campus resources to strive for long term success.
Ten of our SUNY campus representatives were present to help bridge the students to their respective SUNY campuses. SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Canton, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Morrisville, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Oswego, SUNY Plattsburgh, and SUNY Purchase. The admission representatives engaged students attending their universities to provide information on tools and best practices to ensure student success.
According to CBI’s recent data report, college enrollment and retention have increased from the inaugural to the third Annual SUNY & CBI Send-off event. Their enrollment of first-time students at a SUNY school from 2016 to 2017 increased by 41%. Within that same time frame, the retention rates also increased by 39.4%. Lastly, the retention rates from 2017 to 2018 increased by 7%. These exciting outcomes are all attributed by the strong partnership of SUNY and CBI, who commit to an overall goal to ensure underserved students are successful and become the leaders of tomorrow.