Educational Opportunity Center relocates, provdies opportunities for nontraditional students

Christopher Meyer, Rensselaer County Deputy Director presents Dr. Lucille Marion with a certificate of congratulations.

Nichole Danyla, Staff Writer

After looking for a new location for 12 years, the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) relocated in January 2014 to 431 River St. in Troy. The grand opening of this facility took place on Tuesday, Mar. 25.

“Getting to this day has been a very, very long time coming,” said Lucille Marion, vice president and executive director of the EOC.

“The building was built specifically to ensure it would meet the needs of our various programs,” said Elizabeth Bringsjord, SUNY’s interim provost and vice chancellor.

Carlos Medina, assistant provost and associate vice chancellor for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, said,  “This new center will serve as a state of the art gateway to vocational and technical education, will improve occupational and life skills, better job opportunities and [provide] a stronger neighborhood and community.”

In 1966, the EOC (then called The Urban Center) started in the former Naval Reserve Center in Troy. The name change came almost two decades later when it moved to its new location on Congress Street.

Since its opening in 1966, the EOC “has launched the hopes and careers of more than 47,000 students,” said Medina.

“[The EOC helps] about 900 students annually in a range of programs from nursing to culinary and GED courses  as well as college prep classes for low income and disadvantaged people,” said Katie Bradley, the EOC’s coordinator for institutional advancement.

“EOC provides an opportunity [for education] students can’t get anywhere else,” said Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia.

Medina agreed, saying, “EOC serves as a reminder that [some people] don’t benefit from traditional educational pathways. EOC celebrates diversity and achievement by creating a community that is attuned to the students it serves.”

A year ago students were asked to fill out a form finishing the sentence, “EOC is…” The students replied with words like, “hope, a chance, a star, support [and] life changing.” These words now adorn the wall on the second floor lobby of the new building.

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving the community and world better than you found it,” said Lisa McKay, senior assistant provost and Director of UCAWD (University Center for Academic and Workforce Development).

Lorraine Jackson, an EOC graduate, shared how the program changed her life.

“[Getting accepted to the EOC] was the best thing to happen to me,” said Jackson.

When she started the program, Jackson scored at a fifth grade level in math and a tenth grade level in English. By the time she finished the GED preparation program in November, she received her GED.

Now Jackson is attending Hudson Valley as a human services student. She plans to go on to get her bachelor’s degree after she graduates.

Another student, Malcolm Dobbs, who is currently in the building trades program, said that before the EOC he would, “work two or three jobs just to make ends meet and ends really didn’t meet.”

Dobbs said, “I got tired of working in warehouses,” where he was sometimes working sixty hours a week. Deciding to make a change, he enrolled in the EOC.

“I see this as an investment [in myself],” said Dobbs.

“Just wait and see what we’ll be able to accomplish here,” said Hudson Valley President Drew Matonak.

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