The three SUNY Oswego alumni -- Kendis Gibson, Trudy Perkins and Catherine Santos -- were among 50 given distinguished honors at the celebration. Perkins and Santos were present for the event. The April 14 event at Buffalo State College was a culmination of a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of EOP.
Honorable Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve dedicated his career to representing the underserved, particularly through his determination to establish the Educational Opportunity Program at SUNY schools, which provides access, academic support and supplemental financial assistance to students from disadvantaged populations.
The Educational Opportunity Program is one of the oldest, largest and most successful college access programs in the nation. Various members of the first graduating class of EOP students were also honored.
"Without Deputy Speaker Eve’s leadership and tireless dedication to New Yorkers from underserved communities, SUNY’s EOP would not be in the position it is today to help students -- many first generation students and those having the greatest financial need -- gain access to and pursue a college degree," said SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall. "We must also pay homage to minority members in the New York State Legislature who helped found the program through advocacy and unwavering support, as well as New York State's ongoing investment. The Educational Opportunity Program is an example of American Higher Education providing all students with access to a quality education."
"We are proud to honor 50 years of SUNY’s EOP and Honorable Dr. Arthur O. Eve, EOP founder, legendary state assemblyman and storied civil rights leader," said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. "As a system, SUNY is devoted to opportunity and access for students from all backgrounds. The accomplishments of our EOP graduates, especially those being recognized at this event, show the benefits of having educational opportunity programs on our campuses and providing EOP students with individualized resources and support.”
Currently active on 47 SUNY campuses across New York State, SUNY’s EOP serves almost 11,000 academically and economically disadvantaged students, helping them prepare for and succeed in college. Of the current EOP population, 37 percent are African American, 37 percent are Latino, 15 percent represent other underrepresented groups and 11 percent are white.
SUNY’s EOP program has a six-year baccalaureate graduation rate of 70 percent, far exceeding the national rate of 60 percent for all public institutions. In 2016-17, more than 3,000 EOP students achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or greater.
Oswego's honored alumni
A 1994 Oswego graduate, Kendis Gibson is the anchor of "America This Morning" and "World News Now" on ABC News. His work can also be seen on all of ABC’s programming, including "Good Morning America," "World News Tonight with David Muir," "Nightline" and "20/20." Gibson joined ABC in 2014 as a correspondent and anchor, following roles with local and national networks. He was an anchor and reporter based in Washington, D.C., during the Barack Obama presidency; a primetime anchor for Fox; an entertainment anchor for CNN; and a show host for HGTV. The Belize native received the Oswego Alumni Association's Graduates Of the Last Decade Award in 2004.
Trudy Perkins, a 1993 graduate, is the deputy chief of staff and communications director for Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represents Maryland’s 7th district and is the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. As senior advisor, Perkins leads the development of legislative initiatives and district-level agendas for Cummings. She also serves as the principal liaison for managing partnerships at the federal, state and local levels and with private and non-profit firms. Prior to her position with Congressman Cummings, Perkins was a news producer for WTEN-10 in Albany and WBAL-TV in Baltimore. She serves on a number of boards and non-profit organizations and was honored twice as Maryland’s Top 100 Women by the Maryland Daily Record.
In 1970, Catherine Santos was among the first class of EOP students on the Oswego campus. She left campus in the '70s and later returned, earning her bachelor's degree in 1987, and later a master's degree from Oswego in 1999. Now retired from SUNY Oswego, she worked tirelessly for decades to promote an inclusive environment for both the college and the local community of Oswego, including roles as the college's assistant dean of judicial affairs, associate provost for multicultural opportunities and programs, interim director of EOP and CSTEP, and the director of the tutoring program in the Office of Learning Services. She has also served as city alderman in Oswego and is the president of the Oswego Public Library.