Last updateWed, 28 Feb 2018 12pm


A Family of its Own: Educational Opportunity Fund

Family Of Its OwnMonmouth University is known for its small campus size, especially when it comes to taking classes and getting to know professors on a personal level. Though every student is able to take advantage of this perk, not all are able to say they also belong to the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program here on campus.

This program allows forty students per year to enter college, the vast majority who may not have been able to otherwise, with experience and bonds that they will lean on during their freshman year and the rest of their lives. Yes, they do aid students financially, but this program is known to offer so much more than just money; this program makes dreams come true.

All students start off in a five-week long summer academy where students take two classes, receiving three credits for each, and spend time bonding with thirty-nine others who are enrolled in the same program. At first, no one wants to be there. Who willingly gives up their summer before college to take classes and follow a rigorous schedule that keeps you awake from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.? But, as the weeks fly by, the time spent in the program allows you to grow more than ever.

Cameron Oakley, a freshman health studies EOF student, said, “It is amazing to see how close you can become with thirty-nine other people in five weeks and how that bond stays forever.”

Friendships that form through this program are life changing because many students here have struggles at home, whether a parent died or they are adopted, everyone has a story and every other person can relate to some extent to the other person’s experience.

The bonds created through the summer allow students to have a support system for the school year and give them a way to not feel alone as many freshman today do. Entering college is less terrifying when you have two or three other people by your side on the first day, even if it is just sitting together in the dining hall instead of sitting alone.

In the case of Francesca Cafasso, a freshman EOF student, it was not as easy to open up, walking into the program she would “tell herself that she was going to hate it.” After the first event of the program, Game Night, she realized that it was not as bad as she thought initially and started to crawl out of her shell. Cafasso went from dreading the return on Sunday nights to not being able to wait!

During the academic year, there are also various ways that EOF continues to support their students. At first, many complain about the mandatory two hours per week study hour rule, saying that it will distract them and take them away from more important things. But, much like the summer program, this turns into a fun and motivational way of getting homework and studying done.

As Shannon McGorty, a freshman health studies and EOF student, expressed, “study hours are a way to reconnect with people I haven’t seen since the summer and to meet upperclassmen who actually help me with my work if they had my professor or are the same major as me.”

Getting work out of the way is not the only worry of the EOF office. Counselors, the office coordinator, the math tutor, and, of course, the director all play a huge role in the skyrocketing success of these students from the academic and personal relationships they keep with them. As students walk into the office, the first person they talk to is Cherryl Guker, the office coordinator. She is the hub of the entire program and without her, no one would know what to do; keeping students together and keeping track of appointments to making sure the office stays in tip-top shape, she truly is the Wonder Woman of EOF and the brightness to many student’s days.

Guker says favorite part about the job is watching the students grow from the moment they get there to the time that they leave, and over the forty-five years that she has held that position, she still finds it fascinating. Another form of support that students look forward to are the counselors: Gilly Scott, Jarred Carrier, and Elizabeth O’Brien. The people are what keep students together, tracking them like hawks from their grades to their stress levels. With the bi-weekly meetings that students must attend, they do everything in their power to keep them on track and get them the support they need.

These counselors listen to students talk about everything from issues with professors to issues with significant others, welcoming the complaints with open arms. Carrier said, “Everyone has a story … and having this close-knit family really gives me a chance to see all the different facets that Monmouth has to offer.”

Students are just as grateful for the counselors as the counselors are for the students, this continuous motivation and drive keeps the program lively. Al Fure, mathematics specialist for EOF, is another aspect of the program that many students rely on. When entering Fure’s office, the first thing you notice is the abundant number of notes all with the same saying: “Thank you, Al, I don’t know what I would have done without you!”

Alexis Delgado, Director of the EOF program, is very involved in the lives of the students. Though he sits as director, he still manages to connect to every student, always asking how internships are going or how a test that someone was stressing over went. His main priority is always the students and that shows in his kind demeanor and caring personality.

The EOF program is more than just giving money to students who are financially unstable at home; it gives forty students a family and major support system while attending the university. Through the summer academy, through the study hours, and the many people there to support these students, this family is definitely something that these students are extremely proud of.

As Stitch from Disney’s Lilo and Stitch once said, “Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” And while this quote hangs on the wall in the EOF building, it is the only way to explain how the students and faculty involved in the program truly feel.

IMAGE TAKEN from Monmouth.edu

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu