By Paulina Tejada ’25 and Emily Echavarria ’25
What is HEOP, exactly?
The Higher Education Opportunity Program was founded in 1969 by Aurther O. Eve to financially and academically support marginalized students in over 50 colleges, including in our very own Hobart and William Smith colleges. This is a program that affords opportunities to students within New York State looking to further their higher education by allotting them the necessary tools for success. It is a rigorous program that requires the participants to fully dedicate themselves to their studies, while also creating a community that stands on shared experiences.
What does HEOP mean to you?
We asked our HWS HEOP Community what HEOP signified to them.
“What HEOP means to me is giving people a chance to get a higher education. It’s giving an opportunity to do something that they deserve and have the right to do which is become educated”- Djeneba Diop’25
“A community that’s always there to support me”- Jamie Moreno (’25)
“Financial Aid…..Lemme stop. It means a community of people who I truly can trust and will feel comfortable with. Like, y’all feel like family.”- Bryan Gonzales Soto (’25)
“It means opportunity. A chance to make something of myself that I wasn’t beforehand. Further myself beyond all possibilities”- Paulina Tejada’25
“HEOP is family,community, and a learning environment.” – Joshua Cruz (’24)
“HEOP, to me, is an essential component for fostering community amongst students of color, specifically at predominantly white academic institutions. Programs such as HEOP allow students with similar backgrounds but different experiences to display their talents and potential in spaces that they would otherwise be excluded from. Ultimately, I feel that the HEOP program is shifting the culture of higher education from exclusivity and societal perceptions of belonging to acceptance and equality, two qualities of academia that have continuously hindered and misrepresented academic opportunities for scholars of color.” – Nassir Whitley (’22)
We believe what sets HEOP apart from many financial and academic programs is that HEOP truly garners a sense of community and belonging even in an environment where marginalized students have not historically been welcomed or assisted. This does not necessarily mean that HWS isn’t welcoming to minority students, however, HEOP gives these students a secure circle before, during, and after college. This program is not solely looking at students’ success when admitted, this program focuses on making sure that HEOP students thrive in a social setting and learn more than what they need to achieve a degree.