Najnin Mimma, a psychology major in her senior year, was one of 14 NYIT students who recently attended the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (cIcu) Independent Sector Student Lobby Day. In an article for The Box, Mimma talks about the importance of programs like the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and how they have helped her succeed at NYIT.
As HEOP students, we were given the opportunity to attend Lobby Day in Albany to advocate for the importance of continued state funding for educational opportunity programs. On February 14, HEOP students, including those from NYIT, as well as students from other opportunity programs (for example, the Educational Opportunity Program; Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge; and Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program) made the journey to highlight how the funding of our respective opportunity programs have impacted our academic lives. We also had the chance to meet with New York State legislators to share our personal academic success stories as HEOP students. The many passionate students who were courageous enough to go to the podium for the student speak-out and share their heartfelt stories of personal triumph inspired other students to never lose hope.
This year was my second time attending Lobby Day. As a freshman, the experience inspired and motivated me to work hard and prove that HEOP did not make a mistake by granting me a second chance to succeed. When it seemed as if no one would give me the opportunity to go to college, HEOP looked beyond the statistics and saw something special in me.
Going back to Albany as a senior made me understand why I worked so hard to maintain good academic standing at NYIT. I work hard to prove to both my director and counselors that the potential they saw in me on the first day of my HEOP interview is still here. With the assistance of my HEOP director and counselors, I became the president of the Chi Alpha Epsilon honor society. They also inspired me to become a mentor to freshman and upperclassman students who need guidance. The HEOP staff encourages their students to aspire to move well beyond their limits, and my HEOP director always reminds us never to let statistics dictate your future. This is why it is crucial that the state continue to fund programs such as HEOP so they can continue to stay afloat and offer support to students in need.
As a student and mentor, I have the opportunity to witness the success of all the HEOP students at NYIT. I am proud to be a voice of such a great department that works hard every day to give students like me an opportunity to become successful. I am eternally grateful to the HEOP department for changing my life and proud to call myself a HEOP student.
By Najnin Mimma