HEOP: A Family Reunion
An HEOP Family Reunion
It feels like a big family reunion.
A lot of smiles. A lot of laughter. And questions like “what are you doing now?”
Close to 50 current RIT students and alumni helped celebrate during the 50th anniversary reception for RIT’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)October 18th on campus.
They used words like family, success, opportunity and community to describe their personal experiences while they were in the program.
HEOP was established by the New York State Legislature in 1969.
“This is an access and academic program for eligible residents in New York State who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a private college or university due to economic and educational disadvantage,” says RIT HEOP Director Belinda Bryce, who has led the program now for 11 years.
One way the program has changed over the last half century is in how it provides services to students during its summer program.
“Due to multiple programs in the summer, in 2017,HEOP collaborated with MCAS for a combined summer program called “DDI Summer Experience,” says Bryce.
This has allowed HEOP students to connect with a broader range of in-coming freshmen including those in Multicultural Center for Success (MCAS) and the Destler/Johnson Rochester City Scholars program, providing a much broader network prior to the beginning of fall classes.
One measure of success can be found in HEOP’S graduation rate.
“For the past 4 out of 5 years, our graduation rate has surpassed RIT’s overall graduation rate.”
She added that many seniors in the program accept offers of full employment before graduation, working at companies like Tesla and GM, JP Morgan and Apple. Students are pursuing medical degrees and law degrees and MBAs.
“It is a monumental success because through programs like HEOP we are able to reverse the cycle of poverty,” says Bryce.