Capital District Educational Opportunity Center (EOC)
a division of Hudson Valley Community College
Success Stories and Publications

Essay Contest 2009

Khadiga Gulamhasan shares her essay at the 2009 recognition ceremony. Khadiga Gulamhasan shares her essay at the 2009 recognition ceremony.
First Place
Khadiga Gulamhasan
Academic Preparation, GED Preparation

Participating in the Educational Opportunity Center has made my future brighter. Education is a huge benefit not only for my family and me, but also for other people. With education, I can help my children with their schoolwork. With education, I can complete my humanity.

First of all, I can say that the EOC has become the apex of my life. I am very happy that I have the opportunity to study and continue my education here in the United States. I have been an enthusiastic student since I was a first grader. I was very good at studying my lessons and was able to learn them quickly. Unfortunately, I could not continue and finish school because of the situation in Afghanistan. I traveled to several other countries including Iran, but the Iranian officials did not give me the opportunity to continue my education because foreign people are not allowed to attend school.

Unlike Iran, my participation in the EOC makes my future brighter because eventually my dreams can become a reality. What’s more, with education I feel I am very productive. Everything in the EOC is organized in a manner that fits how I learn. My self-esteem has improved because I am learning new things every day. Furthermore, because of these new skills, I am sure I am going to be a successful person because of the help and support my compassionate, patient, professional, and expert teachers at the EOC. After I finish my education, I plan to be a nurse of pharmacist and can be of assistance to other people.

Furthermore, participating in the EOC has benefited my family. With education, I can help my children with their homework, and I can participate fully in parent/teacher meetings. When my children see how easily I can help them with their schoolwork, they are proud of their mother. They do not need to ask other people for help. Therefore, they experience higher self-esteem. They can also study better and obtain more success in their own lives. I have a friend who is uneducated and could not go to school when she was a child. Her father was very strict. He did not like the girls to study. He thought study was only for boys. My friend is now married to a man who has the same idea as her father. As a result, she never found the opportunity to learn how to read and write. She has great difficulty herself and with her children’ schoolwork. Most of the time, she asks my daughter to help with her children’s homework and asks me to go with her to any school meetings. Whenever I see her and her problems, I have become more aware of the value of education and grateful for the EOC.

Finally, I believe that with education, I will be a better and more complete person with a better sense of humor and an awakened consciousness. With education, my understanding of nuances and my empathy will increase. Therefore, I can understand others and their problems. When I can identify the problems, I will be able to help all people better.

In conclusion, I believe that participating in the Educational Opportunity Center means a lot to me and my future. Continuing my education is the most important thing in my life. By participating in the EOC, I can make my future brighter, and I can help myself and others.

Second Place
Stevi McLaughlin

The Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) located in Troy, New York, is changing the world, one person at a time. It’s definitely changed mine. I never thought I would be in this school, let alone the class I’m in. Yet, on a whim of feeling I needed a life I could be proud of, here I am. This facility, which is more than a school, is a combination of community, commitment, and creativity.

The community of the EOC has taught me that “life happens” and I am not alone in my endeavors. The staff here WANTS you to succeed. Every day here I am shown that we must work as a team. We need to help our friends, neighbors, and classmates. Everyone needs some support, whether it’s an encouraging word or real help finding a way through a tough time. We can bind together to make things better.

The largest part of the EOC is the staff’s commitment to making a better you. They make sure you are educated and enjoying your education. They also help to find you employment in your vocational field after graduation and can help you to find a job in the meantime.

Then, there’s my commitment, as an education is nothing without perseverance. This is the passion I have to complete my goal of attaining my cosmetology license. In order to do this, I am committed to doing what I dislike the most- waking up early every day, braving nasty weather, looming deadlines, and late busses- all just to get to class on time everyday to reach my goals.

My favorite part of the EOC is the creativity. The encouragement of creativity allowed to me in the cosmetology class is unprecedented. My teachers here are the best I’ve ever known. Mrs. Buda (lovingly referred to as Ms. Boo-Boo), and Ms. McGuire are so supportive. With phrases like “As long as it’s still attached to the head, we can fix it”, “It’s only hair, it grows back,” and “You can’t hurt a manikin,” I have always felt that I’ve been cheered on, rather than corrected. My classmates and I are constantly being gently persuaded into using our creativity, while still having to find the proper answers. Continually being reminded, “You’re not making mistakes, you’re learning” has kept me invigorated in moving forward, instead of getting frustrated and giving up.

All in all, the EOC has impacted my life by giving me a profession I can enjoy and be proud of, rather than just a job I loathe enduring. It’s given me pride to be able to say I’m in the top of my class, doing something I never thought I would do-let alone do it so well. I’m a better person and more of an asset to society. In these ways and so many more, the EOC has changed my life. Now I’m well on my way to changing the world because “in order to change the world, you must first change yourself.”

Third Place
Fonda Jordan-Morris
Business for Employment Today, Enhanced BEST, Information Processing for Today

What participation in the EOC means to me and my future is so many positive and wonderful things. It means that I can work towards a career, not a job. It means that I can show my family that although I’ve been through three years of battling cancer, where I received chemotherapy and internal and external radiation then enduring the after-effects of the treatments, that I am now more grateful to God that he has included me in the EOC family.

I am enrolled in the Information Processing Technology Program. Daily I am realizing that my self-esteem and self-confidence have been given such a boost since furthering my education here at the EOC. I also find myself having so much more energy to jump out of bed and face the week with anticipation to maintain my computer literacy skills and again be included in a small part of society doing something very productive with my time.

Participating in the EOC really gives me a reality check. Some days I hear a lot of negativity from some of the students and I say to myself that they ought to be grateful someone is willing to pay for their education to better their lives in working toward self-sufficiency. Being a participant in the EOC program is enabling us to put our lives into prospective by showing us literally what is important for us regarding our education, concerning our careers, prioritizing things that we need to do in order to accomplish our goals.

Participation in the EOC to me means that I can also be a better role model for my eight children. I say this because I do not want any of them to repeat the cycle of dependency on social service programs. My children have known me to work in the past, but they have also seen me at home in remission from the cancer for three years. Therefore, they will by my guidance elect, establish, and maintain their chosen career fields at an earlier age than I did or at the least experience it through carefully selected high school courses, dedicated and very positive after school programs, and summer youth employment programs.

Participating in the EOC enables me to train and adhere to doing several office procedures before I seek employment. I plan on climbing and reaching the corporate ladder of success within five years.

Participating in the EOC makes me feel so productive and happy. My family feels this energy and acknowledges it daily when I come home; and their dispositions seem to change for the better also. We often sit and chat about our email messages relayed to one another. They think it’s really great that I finally know what the computer is all about. I will always be grateful for the EOC for giving me a second chance at life.

Honorable Mention Excerpts

Nekita Evans - Building Trades
When I first went to the EOC, I was shy and scared because I had not been in school since 1996 when I graduated. EOC has given me a chance to grow up. When I graduate from the EOC, it will open many doors to my future. It will allow me to go back to college and take a course that will benefit me when it comes to my math skills in electrical engineering. I will be able to provide a good future for my daughter. She can be proud of her mother, even after all the trials and tribulations that I struggled and worked through to get to where I am today. As long as I keep myself focused and continue to work hard, it will open many doors for a bigger, better, and brighter future for me and the ones I love.

Jasmine Frazier - Nursing Assistant
I am attending the EOC to gain independence, build my self-esteem, and become a professional health care worker. As a single mother with a four-year-old son, I realized that my limited education did not equip me for the harsh realities of life or motherhood. The Nursing Assistant Program offers me the opportunity for self-sufficiency through independence. Each day I go to class more enthusiastic than the day before. [My teacher's] methods and visual illustrations keep me intensely interested in the course. Attending the EOC has bestowed such confidence within me that I can now think and achieve goals for my future in a step-by-step fashion.

Shannon Speanburg - BEST, E-BEST, Informational Processing for Today
My life was meaningless, with no direction, a two-time felon with no job skills. Broke, uneducated, and surviving on welfare, I saw no way to change and nobody to care if I did. Then I was introduced to the EOC, and everything changed. I wake up in the morning with a purpose, and I am excited about going to school. For the first time in my life, I feel good about myself and the direction my life is going. At the EOC, I am learning skills that I will need to get a good job so I can pay my own bills. On my third day at the EOC, I heard the words "I am proud of you" more times than I have heard them in my whole life. These words of encouragement represent the attitude of the teachers at the EOC, [who are] always motivating and read to help the students. They don't judge me for the person I used to be. They are helping me become the person I want to be. Without the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center, I would still be lost!

Excerpts from Submissions

[Through my participation in the EOC], I have been given the gift of tools for success. In my time at the EOC, I have grown as a person and as a professional. A large part of the reason why the EOC is a success is that the staff and faculty want you to succeed. This education is something that I do not take for granted, and I am thankful to have received this gift.
Loreli Ashley. BEST, E-BEST, Job Readiness Training, IPT

The Educational Opportunity Center is changing my life for the better. I'm now getting an education and making that money.
Cierra Bloomfield, Reading Preparation, GED Preparation

The EOC is providing me with the education and confidence needed to be successful in a career. I have made mistakes in my past, but the EOC is one of my successes.
Tammy Burdick, Vocational Preparation, BEST, E-BEST, IPT

Attending the EOC program means to me success, security, and enhancement of my present skills. The school environment seemed comfortable to me; the staff seemed friendly, and the whole education system seems set up for me or whoever had a burning desire to enhance their educational goals to succeed.
Cliff Conyers, BEST, E-BEST

Now that I am building my foundation a bit larger, my options are expanding. Without the EOC, I would still be sad dwelling the fact that I had nothing. Now that I have education in my life, I am broadening my horizons. Soon I will have the job of my dreams and I will be making enough money to support my child and myself. Without the EOC, I would still be sad dwelling on the fact that I had nothing.
Jamie Leigh Edick, BEST, E-BEST, IPT

When I found out the EOC was here to help me, I told my instructors of my problem with reading. The instructors did not judge me, but they did help me a lot. I am glad that the EOC is here, and I can get the help that I need. I am hoping that I can go to college so I can become a teacher's aide, and I can give back to someone else what I have learned at the EOC.
Olga Green, GED Preparation

The EOC is just the beginning of my future. The opportunities of this school are endless. This is an eye opener for the real world and one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Amanda Hubbard, Cosmetology

Being allowed to participate in the EOC program means that I've been blessed with another change to make a better life for myself. The EOC has made me feel like there's still hope for me. I feel like someone still believes in me and cares about me. I can once again see the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, that light that once seemed so dim now appears to be brighter than ever, and so does my future. I'm daring to dream again. More importantly, I believe I can bring those dreams to fruition.
Wesley James, BEST, E-BEST, IPT, IC3

It's evident that my participation in the EOC reading and math classes will help me develop essential skills that are necessary for every life situation and also prepare me for college and my future career afterwards. Making the decision to come to the EOC will help me now and in the near future.
Hannah Karikari, Academic Preparation

The EOC gives me a great opportunity to learn new skills of the latest technology that is needed in the work force today. I have developed wisdom, which has built up my character to achieve a better career in the future. I am very grateful and thankful for the staff's time, teaching, and great concern for what's need for me to be successful in an office environment.
Karen Klispie, Health Information Technology

By coming to the EOC, I've learned that I can't do it all on my own, and there is nothing to be ashamed of with that. In the past couple of months, I received more support and guidance than I have through my entire high school experience. I feel at ease, I feel safe, and I feel like that time can be min when I am there in my class. I feel a sense of belonging and encouragement and a positive energy from all the staff.
Jennifer Leto, Academic Preparation

Everything brings me closer to graduating, even prepositional phrases. It is easy to see how what I learned while I’m here will positively affect my lifestyle. Participation in the EOC is an important step to [my] becoming a better person with a brighter future.
Martina Neilson, Academic Preparation, GED Preparation

The EOC has so much to help you out.
Anna Perez, Basic and Advanced Culinary Training

Everything for completing my dream has come with the help of the EOC. Within just a year of attending the EOC, I am ready to begin my dream of attending college. The EOC has opened the new path for me in the future, a higher education, and a good career. The center has also changed my thoughts. If I believe I can do it, I will do it and it doesn't matter where I learn or what I get, the success must be based on my effort and the help of everyone.
The Trug Pham, College Preparation

Taking part in the Job Readiness Training program at the EOC has made me ready for employment by helping me get my portfolio together and helping me review positive work ethics. The EOC has helped me be an excellent student. I take pride in my class work. I can say that I am thankful that I am at the EOC.
Johanna Scudder, JRT, Reading Preparation, Academic Preparation

I just feel very blessed for this program. I couldn't have done it without the EOC. The EOC has taught me how to be responsible again, to be on time, and to keep all [my] appointments. I also feel better and more confident as a mother.
Jennifer Simpson, Nursing Assistant, Academic Preparation

The EOC is an opportunity that can help everybody to continue their schooling. I want to be a good example so my children will understand how important education is.
Ramata Thiaw, English as a Second Language

I will never forget how this wonderful school changed my life for the better. You cannot get a good job or own your own business without a high school diploma or GED. I have my struggles in my subjects, but unlike some people, I find it hard to give up. My struggling just makes me want to try harder. My teacher never lets me give up. She knows when something is bothering me or getting in the way of my work, and she shows concern. The teachers and counselors are so great and helpful. When I graduate and walk off the stage with my GED, the credit will not only go to me, it will go to all my teachers too.
April Wood, Reading Preparation