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

Essay Contest 2010

Sala GallowayFirst Prize
Sala Galloway
Pre-Business Skills

I work at a small home goods store. I’m sitting here in the break room waiting to clock in. I’m really glad to be working at a time where jobs are scarce. I make $7.50 an hour. I can barely take care of family without government assistance. The only real skills I have are the skills I’m acquiring at the EOC. I know now that the only key to my success is not to give up.

..... I’m 34 years old and when you haven’t done anything to better yourself outside of a GED; you start to give up hope. I checked into other schools and asked around, still no hope. I was sitting on a bus one day and looked up. I saw the EOC advertisement and wrote the number down.

Later that week I called and after speaking with the receptionist who gave me the enrollment information a small glimmer of hope started to dance around my head.

My participation in the EOC means everything to me right now. My children are depending on me to show them the way. I had given up on going back to school. My restored hope has changed my life. I’m a better mother, a better friend, I’m a better person overall.

When you think about going back to school, all kinds of things go through your head. You wonder if you can make it first of all. Then you wonder if you can find time, those thoughts were crushed when I began to think. I could actually obtain a profitable skill for no charge to me. That’s like someone giving me a brand new life for free.

So I took the TABE test and – Wow! - it wasn’t that bad. I needed a little help with math. I graduated from the vocational math class May 2009. I am attending my second term for my certificate in business. I have a dream of starting a parent advocacy program one day to help mothers who have had their children taken away due to domestic violence, drug abuse, or just being a young teen mom. I feel like I have something to offer this world. I also feel like EOC can bring the best out of me. I’ve been touched by a few angels at the EOC.

I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything at EOC. EOC gave me I hope back. I will achieve my dreams. When I succeed, I can spread my success through helping others here in my community.

Lisa MurdockSecond Prize
Lisa Murdock
Business Employment Skills for Today (5/1/2009), Health Information for Today

Before I began my journey at the EOC, I wasn’t quite sure of what I wanted to do with my life. I had a GED, no resume, and not much to put on one; and a child that I showed that there was more to life than what I hadn’t built for us.

When I began at the EOC, my mind came alive again. I could think of where I could be in 5 or 10 years. I could see myself working at a job that was worth my time and effort, or maybe even owning my own business and being my boss.

When I first attended the EOC, I had to leave before graduating. I was on public assistance and my childcare was cut; I couldn’t afford to pay for it on my own, I had nothing. I really wanted to finish what I started; I wanted to figure out how I was going to not give up. I felt like if I gave up on this, I was giving up on a new beginning for myself and my daughter (who needed me not to give up). So I thought it out and decided that I would return when she was in elementary school.

Earlier this year (2009) I came back to EOC and filled out my paperwork with more determination than ever to get through the business course that I had started a few years back. When I got back, I had to start from the beginning, which was frustrating for me, but I didn’t let that get me down. I figured if I was going to come back, I wasn’t going to let that one thing take my determination away from me, my determination to want more out of life.

Coming to EOC has opened my mind and also some doors for me. It has opened my mind to the fact that I can reach for the stars and not have to be an astronaut to get there. There’s more to life than accepting what’s at the bottom. It’s made me think about my goals and the fact that yes, life is hard, but I can do it if I really put my mind and effort to it.

EOC has sparked my enthusiasm and determination in making myself a better employee; with more knowledge to head back into the work force after being out so long. I have more confidence in myself to go to an interview and not be afraid to go after a job and sell myself for that job.

Every step hasn’t been easy, by no means, but all good things to come are not going to be an easy ride. I will have to be patient and work hard for anything that I want out of life. Thank you EOC for a second chance at a new beginning.

Brian CraneThird Prize
Brian Crane
Academic Enrichment

[The EOC] has made me a better person and it has made me much happier that I know I’m doing something with my life. Also I have a chance to learn something new that I couldn’t do before and I couldn’t have done it without the help of the staff and everyone supporting me to come here. I’ve always thought I would never get accepted to anywhere before. I applied to the Educational Opportunity Center but then they gave me a chance that I will never forget to succeed in life. At the EOC, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, it matters how much effort you put into wanting to be here and wanting to accomplish something for yourself.

Before I came here, I thought I wouldn’t ever go back to school. I thought I would just work a crap job for the rest of my life. Then I told myself, after everyone else said I couldn’t go all the way through with school since they said I wasn’t smart enough, that I would pass school and prove them wrong and prove myself right.

So I ended up enrolling myself into the GED course to get my diploma which is going very well. I have passed my math part of the course and ended up getting a B average for the course. it made me feel so much better about myself because I showed myself that I can actually do something I thought I couldn’t do myself. This school means so much to me because I’m going to go farther in life with an education that might even get me a better job and that will support me for the rest of my life so I don’t have to struggle through it like most people.

After I pass my GED course in three months or so I’m going to move on to the [EOC’s Culinary Program]. Being here makes my future look a lot brighter than it did before. I thank the staff the most just because they were there to say, “You can do this and pass!” and inspired all of us to seek a better future for ourselves and not to give up. This school so far is the greatest place I’ve gotten into and I would tell anyone I know if they didn’t think they could better themselves to come to the Educational Opportunity Center and give it a chance because I know they will succeed.... If I can do it myself then that means anyone can do it if they would just give themselves a chance.

In conclusion, this school has readied me for my future and the rest of my life. There are no words I can possibly use to describe how much I thank this school and its staff for giving me a chance to better myself and everyone else. ...If it weren’t for my parents and this school saying “I can do it, “I probably would be still sitting at home working a little job like Friendly’s doing absolutely nothing with my life. . ..Thank you to everyone from the Educational Opportunity Center.

Excerpts from Submissions

What I want out of the EOC is to get the tools to help me make an honest, hard-working person out of myself. I want to graduate and go into life successful and proud of myself that I finally completed something in my life.
Kenya Jackson, Job Readiness Training

The EOC has been a great experience for me. The teachers... gave me the tools for success. The staff had faith in me, even when I did not.
Rachael O’Neill, GED Preparation

The EOC is helpful especially for us...who came to the U.S.A. without knowing English. .The EOC staff put us before themselves so we can accomplish our hopes and dreams.
Ramata Thiaw, Academic Enrichment

I’ve never planned until I started E.O.C.... Now I plan on bringing my skills and knowledge to multiple areas in my upcoming future.
Daniel Desnoyers, Building Trades

I am glad that the EOC is here for people like me and that I can get the help that I need to better myself.
Olga Green, GED Preparation

Participating at EOC in the Business Department means receiving an affordable education, being a good example for my children, and getting a job with a future and better pay.
Phyllis Laraway, Pre-Business Skills

The [EOC} staff has been awesome to me and now I can hold my head up and not turn away when the subject of school comes up. ...thanks to the EOC, those doors that were closed will now be open and I can pass through them and not be passed over.
Vincent Holmes, Academic Enrichment, GED Preparation

My teachers never give up on me. They push me to do better and give it my all. They have faith in me and because of them, I have faith in myself and I know I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
Amber Remillard, Academic Enrichment

Waking up every morning coming to the EOC and making the first move on a long journey has definitely showed me that the EOC has made a big impact on my life as well as my future.
Jody Rascoe, Academic Enrichment

The EOC changed the way I look at school. ...I am much happier and excited to go to school and finish what I started.
Nickesha Brizan, Academic Enrichment