For the second year running, the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and TRIO Student Support Services (TRIO SSS) programs held an end-of-academic-year retreat at Minnowbrook Conference Center in Indian Lake, NY. This year, the April 21 to 23 event explored the theme “Real Talk.”
“The purpose of the retreat is help students who may need ‘a boost’ to get to the end of the semester,” explains Craig Tucker, Director, HEOP/SSS. “One of our main themes in our work is centering a sense of belonging. We continually reinforce this in our messaging to our students. The retreat does this as well—we take the students away from the campus to get a break in a peaceful and peace-filled setting.”
Amy Friers, a counselor in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, and Alexis Jerauld, a HEOP counselor, got the retreat started with a True Colors personality assessment activity. “This set the stage for the weekend,” explains Tucker. “It was an ice breaker that facilitated students getting to know one another. Although, the students are in the HEOP/TRIO SSS programs together, they do not often have the opportunity to meet with one another.” Other staff members assisting during the weekend were academic counselors Keyshawn Blakes, Chris Davis, Danielle Jimenez, and Amy Merke, as well as HEOP/SSS Administrative Assistant Michelle Woodhouse.
Both part of the School of Education’s Center for Academic Achievement and Student Development, the New York State-funded HEOP and US Department of Education-funded TRIO SSS work together to improve the retention and graduation of eligible students across Syracuse University. “We are very fortunate to be able to collaborate with SOE while simultaneously serving the entire campus community,” says Tucker.
For the second year, SOE Professor Jeffery Mangram presented at the retreat. “Titled ‘Who Are You?’ his presentation was thought-provoking and engaging for all of us, but especially for the students. It certainly spoke to the theme of strengthening a sense of belonging, as well as a sense of self.” Also presenting was Syracuse-based business owner, radio host, and political strategist Jerome Espree: “He has a passion for encouraging and motivating students to reach their potential. His presentation centered on removing barriers to academic success, the impact current affairs are having on students, and finding peace or perspective in any situation.”
The full weekend of programming included some downtime activities, including indoor games, hiking in the Adirondacks, and making s’mores over the outdoor firepits. Adds Tucker, “The staff at Minnowbrook was amazing! The best take away was the level of appreciation from the students for the experience.”