It was with great fear and uncertainty with which I chose to accept my place at the prestigious Hamilton College under the HEOP program. I knew nothing of college, being a first generation college student, and came from a high school located in one of the worst areas of Brooklyn. Financial assistance was a huge issue for me seeing as how my parents could not even afford to spare a penny for my college education. I knew my chances were not high, especially in light of the economic turmoil that we were and still are experiencing. All I had was desire and these days, desire cannot save everyone. Yet HEOP saved me. HEOP offered me enough scholarships and grants to be able to enroll at Hamilton College without worrying about my financial situation. Not only did they pay for my education but they offered me something more valuable. During the summer program, we learned incredible amounts of things. We took classes in just about every subject area. We were given tutors and taught how to efficiently manage our time. We learned how to perform in various subjects at the highest level. We were taught etiquette during fine dining. We were taught, not how to work for success, but to make success work for us. We did not waste our time working hard; we spent our time working smart. Hard work takes you far but it can only take you so far. We were never on time because to be on time is to be late; we were always punctual and poised. However, it was not all about work. All of us, in our HEOP group, became as close as brothers and sisters. We did fun things over the weekends. We learned how to balance our work and our play. Success cannot lack balance. HEOP taught us not how to be successful in college but how to be successful in life and in everything we do. HEOP will turn you into either one of two things depending on what you choose: a jack of all trades or a master of them all. I am and always will be eternally grateful to the HEOP program and to those who made it possible.
– Christopher Delacruz, Class of 2013