May 23, 2024
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The Educational Opportunity Program provides students with a path to success

Transfer student Joshua Goodwin was inspired by his mother and EOP to reach new heights

Joshua Goodwin is now a junior at Binghamton University, and he credits the Educational Opportunity Program with helping to make that happen. Joshua Goodwin is now a junior at Binghamton University, and he credits the Educational Opportunity Program with helping to make that happen.
Joshua Goodwin is now a junior at Binghamton University, and he credits the Educational Opportunity Program with helping to make that happen. Image Credit: Provided.

Joshua Goodwin, a junior, transferred to Binghamton University this year after completing his associate degree at Corning Community College (CCC). At CCC, Goodwin did it all: he served as the student body president, the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, played basketball and ran cross country for the school’s teams, served as a resident assistant on campus and sat as a student representative on the President’s Advisory Council.

Despite all that success, Goodwin wasn’t originally sure that he’d even graduate high school.

“My older brother and sister didn’t graduate high school,” he said. “Growing up, I didn’t know if I was going to graduate.”

But in the end, Goodwin made the decision to graduate for his mother’s sake.

“One of my biggest goals was to put a smile on my mom’s face,” he said. “So I decided I wanted to graduate high school. I thought, ‘Okay, let’s try to make history here.’”

After graduation, Goodwin attended CCC, where he achieved more than he imagined possible.

“Seeing the success I had at Corning when I went into my second year, I thought that maybe I should shoot for something more,” Goodwin said. He started to apply to four-year schools. By the time the decision process was over, he was left with a few options. But to Goodwin, Binghamton University made the most sense.

“Binghamton called my name,” he said.

Part of that call came from the University’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). EOP was implemented at CCC in the fall of 2022, during Goodwin’s sophomore year. After his counselor encouraged him to apply and he got in, EOP completely revitalized his college experience.

“EOP is like a family away from home,” Goodwin said. “Knowing that I could come here and continue with EOP as an ambassador and have that connection and family aspect of college was amazing.”

The summer EOP program was a great experience for Goodwin. The week-long program prepares students for collegiate life through a mix of classes, campus visits and travel to community enrichment activities. Typically, the program hosts only first-year students. But since EOP was new to CCC, Goodwin was permitted to attend as a sophomore, which thrust him into a leadership role with the younger students there.

“I was like the big brother there,” Goodwin explained. “I was a sophomore and everybody around me was a freshman. It was amazing.”

Goodwin has continued to be involved with the program at Binghamton University as an EOP ambassador, meeting with his fellow EOP students and enriching that family he loves.

“Being an ambassador is so important to me,” he said. “In high school, I was just trying to graduate. College was never in my future, especially coming from a low-income family. But as an ambassador, I get to connect with students in high school who don’t think that they can get to college. I get to let them know that there’s an opportunity through EOP.”

Connecting with younger generations and inspiring hope is important to Goodwin — much of which relates back to his younger siblings at home. Since beginning his college career, Goodwin has found it important to influence his younger siblings and try to interest them in school.

“I want to be a good leader to my younger brother and sister,” he said. “I want them to see that they can do all of this, too.”

Goodwin is a leader in every aspect of his life, at home or on campus. He aims to put his leadership abilities to use in a future career in politics.

“I want to go into politics and work for low-income families and communities,” Goodwin said.

As a new transfer to the University, Goodwin isn’t sure what he’d like to major in yet. Currently, though, he’s setting his sights on a philosophy, politics and law (PPL) major to make his political goals a reality.

“I don’t know if I want to be a politician or work on campaigns or what,” he said. “But with PPL, I’m trying to explore what my opportunities are.”

No matter what major or career path Goodwin chooses, he feels comfortable knowing that he’s already made his family proud. Recently, he won the Norman R. McConney, Jr. Award for EOP Student Excellence. The award, presented annually since 2019, is given to students who have exhibited academic success, courage, perseverance and leadership qualities during their journeys to earn associate or bachelor’s degrees.

The award is named in honor of the late Norman R. McConney, Jr., who, alongside former Deputy Speaker of the New York State Assembly Arthur O. Eve, helped draft the legislation that created EOP as a statewide program.

“I was chosen out of everyone to be the student speaker,” Goodwin said. “It was huge. It showed me that all of the things I did at Corning really did pay off.”

Goodwin said that receiving the award was exciting, but walking up to deliver his speech was one of the best parts of the evening.

“I walked up there, I looked out at the crowd, and the first word I said was ‘Wow.’ There were so many people there. It felt amazing to let all of those students know that we did it, we did a great job and we deserve to win this award,” he said.

But for Goodwin, the sweetest part of the award wasn’t actually receiving the honor or making the speech. It was seeing how much joy it brought to his family.

“My mom and godmother came, and they were both crying. My family doesn’t come from collegiate success like this,” Goodwin, the first in his family to attend college, said. “It was phenomenal to be able to represent my family.”

For Goodwin, family is the thing that matters most. When he reflects on what he’s proudest of, it’s not his time as the student body president or the moments he spent opening acceptance letters. It’s what his family — his siblings and his mother, as well as his EOP family — gives to him, and what he’s able to give to them in return.

“I’m so proud that I’m able to be a role model for my siblings and to make my mom proud of our family,” he said. “And I’m proud to be a part of the EOP community. It’s hard enough just going to college. Having that healthy sense of community here is everything.”

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