Life has never been better for Augustine Wait and Htoo Eh. They are students at Onondaga Community College who were born and raised in a refugee camp in Thailand. It was the only life they knew until they were welcomed into the United States. Wait arrived in 2011. Eh arrived two years later. “If I ever feel like I’m taking my life for granted here, I reflect back on what it was like in the refugee camp and I don’t take it for granted anymore,” said Wait.
Eh, whose first name is pronounced “too,” and Wait are cousins. They both graduated from Henninger High School in 2017 and are on track to earn their degrees in May 2020. Eh is a Humanities & Social Sciences major while Wait is enrolled in the American Sign Language program. Their happy place on campus is the office of the Educational Opportunity Program which is commonly referred to as EOP. It is a counseling and academic support program designed to help low-income and first-generation college students succeed in college.
The EOP office is where you can usually find Eh and Wait when they are not in class. Both are part of the EOP work/study program and often receive assistance from tutors there. “I get a lot of help in English and Math. This is my home here on campus,” said Eh. “I really love EOP,” added Wait. “This is where I make new friends and get the help I need.”
“We’re so proud of what Augustine, Htoo and all of our EOP students have accomplished,” said Marcus Watts, EOP Director. “In the fall semester 70% of our students had a grade point average above 2.0 and 35% were greater than 3.0. The EOP program throughout SUNY has been recognized as one of the most successful access programs of its kind in the country.”
You can learn more about OCC’s EOP program at this website. The EOP office is located in room 222 on the second floor of Coulter Hall.