Onondaga Community College's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) is giving students a valuable head start on the college experience. A total of 40 students are participating in a five-week-long summer program. Students have the opportunity to take classes and live in the residence halls free of charge, helping them transition smoothly from high school to college. "The EOP Pre-Freshman Institute is an excellent way for incoming college students to get a sense of the differences between high school and college. Our students take two classes along with other programming that has been designed especially for them. It provides students with a preview into what college will be like for them in the fall, and gives them the opportunity to create a community with other EOP incoming freshmen," said EOP Director Denise Valdes.
One of the students excelling this summer is Isaiah Bedoar who graduated from West Genesee High School last month. He's earning college credits, making new friends, and enjoying the transition to becoming a successful college student. "This is an equal opportunity program and I take the opportunity quite seriously. I'm getting two classes behind me now. It's nice to get this head start and step into college life slowly. In the fall I'll be able to integrate myself into campus life and get a better sense of what OCC is like."
When he isn't in class or spending time with his classmates Bedoar can usually be found with his camera, taking pictures of nature. "Photography is a really stress-free art. If I don't get the picture it's like 'whatever.' There will be more opportunities to get it right. It's just nice to go outside for a couple of hours, find some birds, and snap photos of them."
The summer program is giving Bedoar the opportunity to earn credits toward his Creative Writing degree. Reading the work of others has impacted him so profoundly he hopes to one day have a similar impact on readers. "The study of literature is the study of the human experience from another person's perspective. What other study can change you so deeply, teach you empathy, and a billion and one things about the world around you? I want to be able to affect that change and show people and see the beauty that I see in the world."
Success stories like Bedoar's are what the EOP Summer program is all about. "The Pre-Freshman Institute experience helps our students be better prepared for their first semester, allows them to earn 6 college credits, and is invaluable for first generation students. This program also allows us to be connected to our community, which is something we are always striving to do," said Valdes.