Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, welcomed the 46th Educational Opportunity/Advancement on Individual Merit (EOP/AIM) class to the EOP Summer Academy program at the Food 4 Thought dinner, which was held on Monday, July 7, in the Student Activities Center Ballroom A.
The 158 students in this year’s EOP/AIM incoming class hail from all five New York City boroughs, Long Island and upstate New York. At the dinner, which is in its 15th year, President Stanley greeted the students and spoke to them about what motivated him to do well in college and how, while his own path to higher education was fairly easy, he felt strongly about helping others who face tougher challenges. He opened the floor to questions from students, who thanked him for his support of the program and ended the session with a standing ovation. President Stanley has been a guest at this event every year since he became president in 2009.
The purpose of the EOP is to fulfill New York State’s commitment to provide access to higher education for economically disadvantaged students who possessed the potential to succeed in college, but whose academic experiences in high school have not fully prepared them to pursue college education successfully. The primary mission of the EOP is to facilitate the recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation of these students. This is accomplished by providing them with an array of educationally related support services.
The Pre-Freshman Summer Academy is one such support service. Students admitted to the EOP/AIM Academy are required to attend a pre-freshman summer academic skills enhancement program that sharpens students’ academic skills and intellectual development and prepares them for the rigors of full-time college enrollment. The Summer Academy also familiarizes students with the University campus and helps them make the transition from high school to college. It models an academic semester and offers a wide range of activities and opportunities for successful college life. EOP/AIM students participate fully in all campus academic and social activities and are held to the same standards and regulations as all other university students.
Dr. Stanley and his wife, Dr. Ellen Li, who serves as a tutor and advisor to EOP/AIM students, are strong advocates for the successful program. Both have been personally involved in it since coming to the University. In 2012 they donated $125,000 to establish the Ellen Li and Samuel L. Stanley Jr. Endowed Scholarship in the Stony Brook University School of Medicine. This merit-based scholarship provides critical financial assistance to young people who have received their undergraduate degree through the Stony EOP/AIM program and who aspire to careers as physician-scientists. The impact of the Stanley gift was doubled thanks to a matching Simons Challenge Grant.
“Ellen and I strongly believe in EOP/AIM; we have always aspired to help students in this program,” said Dr. Stanley. “Many of the students in this program come from underserved and at-risk communities and due in part to EOP/AIM, Stony Brook graduates 65 percent of our Hispanic students and 70 percent of our African American students – more than almost any other public university in the country. To be able to play a role in our EOP/AIM students’ continuing education and help them realize a dream is extremely important to us.”