Nicole Chen ’23 is among a group of Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) students from across the State University of New York (SUNY) system to receive the Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence. The award, now celebrating its fourth class of awardees, recognizes outstanding EOP students for their academic merit and perseverance.
In May, Chen will receive a BS in health science with a concentration in emergency and critical care. She is a certified nursing assistant and hopes to be accepted into Stony Brook’s accelerated nursing program after graduation. Chen has had several mentoring roles at Stony Brook, as a success coach and resident assistant for other EOP students, aiding them as they transition from high school to college, and she also helps her fellow undergraduates with their academics as a teaching assistant.
“Nicole’s dedication to academic excellence, combined with her impressive leadership skills, make her an outstanding recipient of the 2023 Norman McConney Award for Student Excellence,” said Pamela Matzner, director of EOP at Stony Brook. “In her mentoring roles as an EOP Summer Academy Resident Assistant and EOP Success Coach, Nicole has shown a deep commitment to helping others succeed and has had a significant impact on the lives of many EOP students. We are grateful for her leadership and dedication to our program, proud of her many accomplishments, and confident that she will continue to make a positive impact in her future endeavors in the area of nursing.”
“When SUNY was founded 75 years ago, the mission was to create an educational environment where all are welcome. For over 50 years, SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program has worked to make that a reality by helping students, many of whom are the first in their family to go to college, access higher education and see their degrees to completion,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. “When I visit our campuses, I am continuously awed and inspired by the dedicated, hardworking EOP students I meet. EOP is a ticket to upward mobility for New York students, which is why I am honored to recognize these students who stand as role models demonstrating what is possible. With the financial support of New York State, and the resources provided at SUNY campuses, New Yorkers have an opportunity to further their education. My congratulations to each awardee for taking that step to go to college and succeed.”
“Congratulations to these exceptional students on their hard work and accomplishments,” said Assembly Speaker and SBU Alum Carl Heastie. “One of my top priorities since I became speaker is to ensure that every student in New York has the resources necessary to get an education that will set them up for future success — for many New Yorkers, EOP opens that door to higher education. We will continue working to keep that door open so every year we see more students like these awardees celebrated for their academic achievements.”
The award is named in memory of Norman R. McConney Jr., who helped create the EOP as a statewide program.
Since its inception in 1967, the EOP has provided access, academic support, and supplemental financial assistance to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. In its 56-year history, the EOP has served more than 80,000 students and evolved into one of the country’s most successful college access programs.