Capital District Educational Opportunity Center (EOC)
a division of Hudson Valley Community College
Success Stories - Academic Programs

Melissa Crawford

Graduated: 2008

Single Mom Gains Confidence from EOC
"The EOC has contributed to my strength to believe in myself and my abilities"

Melissa Crawford was a high school dropout who pictured a future of poverty for herself and her son - then she found the EOC.

In March 2007, Melissa was placed in an internship at the EOC through the Rensselaer County Department of Social Services. Her success on the job gave her the confidence to pursue her goal of earning a GED. A graduate of the EOC's Academic Preparation and GED Preparation programs, Melissa shared her story as one of the student speakers at the 2008 EOC graduation, held on May 22 at Hudson Valley Community College. "The EOC has contributed to my strength to believe in myself and my abilities," Melissa said in her address to fellow graduates. Initially employed part-time in EOC's Bridge Program as a clerk, Melissa obtained employment as a receptionist at the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society.


EOC Program(s):
Academic Preparation, GED Preparation

Nelly Rubio

Graduated: 1998

"Fighter" Wins Her Way to Success
Rubio, a self-proclaimed “fighter,” willed herself to obtain her GED.

Nelly Rubio, a single parent, moved to Watervliet from New York City in the early 1990s to raise her children in a better atmosphere. After hearing about the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center through a television ad, Nelly enrolled to obtain her GED. Coming to school was a struggle, but Nelly, a self-proclaimed “fighter,” willed herself to complete the Academic Preparation and GED Preparation programs.

“The faculty and staff of the EOC were always there for me, supporting me when I got discouraged,” said Nelly.

After obtaining her GED, Nelly decided to continue her education. She had taken care of her grandmother through her last years, and Nelly decided that the nursing field needed good Spanish-speaking nurses to help other. Graduating from the College Preparation Program in 1998, Nelly enrolled in the licensed practical nursing program at BOCES. In order to get hands-on experience, Nelly started as a C.N.A., eventually obtaining employment as an LPN at Samaritan Hospital during the day and as an LPN supervisor at the Hearthwood Terrace in Troy.


EOC Program(s):
Academic Preparation, GED Preparation, College Preparation

Andre Morris

Graduated: 1994

Counselor Turned Life Around at EOC.
“There's no progress without a struggle." Andre Morris

Andre Morris was referred to the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center from a halfway house. He completed the Center’s Academic Preparation and High School Equivalency programs. After obtaining his General Educational Development diploma, Andre attended the EOC's College Preparation Program for one semester before enrolling at the Junior College of Albany, where he graduated in 1996 with a degree in human services.

He is presently working full-time at St. Peter’s Addiction Recovery Center (SPARC) as a chemical dependency counselor and an acupuncture detoxification specialist. He also coordinates the homeless shelter for SPARC. Since attending the EOC, he has married. He and his wife have three children. "There's no progress without a struggle," Andre says. Andre prides himself in knowing that he will no longer be dependent on social services.


EOC Program(s):
Academic Preparation, High School Equivalency

Monique Brown

Graduated: 1998

From Halfway House to Honor Society
“Sometimes it seems so unreal. It's like a dream!” Monique Brown

Monique Brown came to the EOC from Perrin Halfway House in Schenectady. She lacked confidence in herself and her ability; however, Monique thrived in the EOC environment. After graduating the College Preparation Program in May 1998, she went on to Hudson Valley Community College, where she completed an associate's degree in individual studies.

While at Hudson Valley, she was selected for Who's Who in American Two-Year Colleges and inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Monique also was the recipient of the United States Academic Achievement Award and was named to the National Dean's List. Initially enrolled in the HEOP Program at Russell Sage, Monique completed a degree in psychology at the University at Albany. She is now pursuing a doctorate in psychology. “Sometimes it seems so unreal," said Monique. "It's like a dream!"


EOC Program(s):
College Preparation

James Thomas

Graduated: 1991

From Homeless to Homeless Advocate
James Thomas credits the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center for saving him life.

James Thomas credits the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center for saving his life. A high school drop out at the age of 16, James spent the next 15 years battling addiction, violence and legal problems. He was homeless and wandering the streets of Albany when he finally made a commitment to himself to stay sober.

While in recovery, James heard about the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center and enrolled in the College Preparation Program. His instructors found him to be an outstanding student from the start. “He was a sponge,” said Roberta Patterson, his math instructor. “When it came to learning, he just wanted more!” He completed all of the required subjects in the College Preparation Program and worked with Patterson on his own time to complete the requirements for Essentials Math I so he could be more prepared for college.

Graduating from the Center in 1991, James went on to earn an associate’s degree in Physical Science from Russell Sage Junior College of Albany in 1994 with a GPA of 3.76; a bachelor’s of science degree in biology and psychology from the University at Albany in 1996 with a GPA of 3.65; and a master’s degree in public health from the University at Albany. He initially was employed as the outreach coordinator for Equinox, an Albany-based program which helps homeless, runaway, and sexually abused young people get off the streets, off drugs, and away from gangs. After completing his master’s degree, he took a position at the Educational Opportunity Program at University at Albany, where he held the position of Senior Academic Advisor until his untimely passing in 2007.

Thomas’s story was featured in local newspapers and was the focus of a promotional video for Equinox. Throughout his career, Thomas credited the EOC with his success. "I wouldn't have gotten into college without the EOC," he said. He is survived by his wife Betty, who was also a graduate of the Center’s College Preparation Program, and their three children.


EOC Program(s):
College Preparation

Alma Kanic-Franco

Graduated: 1998

Grateful to the EOC
Kanic-Franco is grateful to the EOC for giving her the strong start in finding success in her adopted country.

Alma Kanic-Franco, a refugee of Bosnia, came to the United States in 1998. While working at the International Center in Albany, Alma was looking for a strong, affordable program to improve her English. Helene Smith, director of the Center, referred Alma to the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center. After completing the English for Speakers of Other Languages Program, she graduated from Hudson Valley Community College in 2001 with a liberal arts degree. She went on to graduate cum laude from Syracuse University in 2003 with a duel degree in International Relations and German Language Literature and Culture.

She soon landed a position in New York City as program administrator for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program for Young Professionals at CDS International in New York City. In 2005, Alma moved back to the Capital District when her husband obtained employment in the area. She now serves as an assistant registrar for special projects at the College of Saint Rose, where she also completed a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. She and her husband had a son in 2009. Kanic-Franco is grateful to the EOC for giving her the strong start to find success in her adopted country.


EOC Program(s):
English for Speakers of Other Languages

Long Tran

Graduated: 1999

Immigrant Finds Success at EOC
An impressive academic record and a willingness to help others earns Long the EOC's First Annual Vice President’s Award in May 1998.

After his father and older brother fled Vietnam in the 1980’s, Long Tran was only able to complete sixth grade before leaving school to help support his family in his native country. In 1993, his father was able to sponsor the emigration of Long and his two siblings to the United States.

After taking some basic English classes, Long worked unskilled jobs at St. Peter’s Hospital and Davis Office Supplies. A friend of his who had graduated from the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center’s English as a Second Language Program recommended that Long enroll in the EOC for more education. Long enrolled in the Center's ESOL Program in Albany in January 1997 and proved to be a highly motivated, hard working student.

He subsequently graduated from ESOL in May 1997, and returned the following year to complete Reading Preparation (October 1997), Academic Preparation (May 1998), and High School Equivalency (October 1998). As a result of his impressive academic record, his positive attitude, and his willingness to help other students, Long was recognized with the EOC's First Annual Vice President’s Award in May 1998.

Juggling jobs and family obligations, Long attended the EOC’s College Preparation Program from October 1998 through July 1999. While personal issues prevented his completion of the College Preparation Program, Long had nonetheless garnered enough coursework and self confidence to consider enrollment in college. In fall 1999, he enrolled in the Individual Studies Program at Hudson Valley Community College. Family and financial constraints forced him to withdraw in spring 2001. Once these issues were resolved, however, Long returned to the college in fall 2002 on a part-time basis and in fall 2004 on a full-time basis, achieving the Dean’s List with a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

In the spring of 2005, he interned in the EOC’s Computer Services Department, his way of giving back to the EOC for the opportunity the Center provided. He was selected to represent both the college and the EOC when student representatives spoke to the Board of Trustees at their May 2005 meeting. Three days later, Long graduated with a degree in computer information systems from Hudson Valley Community College. He is seeking employment in the computer field and hopes to pursue a graduate degree in a related field in the future. . He is now working in the computer field.


EOC Program(s):
English for Speakers of Other Languages