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The foundation St. Bonaventure University’s Higher Education Opportunity Program gave them has opened Ivy League doors for Alexandra Henry and Katherine Arredondo.
Henry, ’13, and Arredondo, ’16, are graduate students at Columbia University in New York City.
The Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) is a comprehensive program, sponsored jointly with the New York State Department of Education, to assist in providing access for all New Yorkers to the state’s private colleges and universities.
Henry is pursuing a master’s degree in clinical social work with a concentration on the aging population at Columbia’s School of Social Work. She graduated with a 3.5 GPA, a bachelor’s degree in gerontology and a minor in theology from St. Bonaventure, where she “learned the value of service and the importance of being your true self wherever you go.”
“HEOP prepared me for my post-college experience,” said Henry, who worked a year for Franciscan Volunteer Ministry and two years with LAMP Ministries after graduation. “I am able to place my love for service – not only in a volunteer setting, but also in a professional setting.”
While at Bona’s, Henry was a member of the SBU Mountain Community Leaders, a First-Year Experience Peer Coach, a Student Ambassador, and a member of the St. Bonaventure Slam Poetry Club.
HEOP director Bridget Kehrer met Henry in her junior year at Bonaventure; Kehrer was the assistant director of HEOP at the time.
“I have never met a more sincere and genuine student in my life,” Kehrer said. “Not only did she perform well academically, but she put her heart and soul into the SBU community and made it her mission to help others and give back. I know she will be an amazing social worker.”
Arredondo earned a bachelor’s degree in sport studies with a concentration in human development and learning. She’s now pursuing a master’s degree in higher and postsecondary education with a concentration in academic developmental analysis at the Teachers College of Columbia.
“My four years at Bonaventure prepared me to attend an Ivy League school that has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl,” Arredondo said. “Four years ago, I didn’t understand why I wasn’t good enough to attend Columbia and the rigorous academia that it’s known for, but coming to Bonaventure under HEOP gave me a clear understanding as to why.”
Arredondo was among the first 75 students to successfully complete The EDGE certification program, a new initiative introduced by the Career and Professional Readiness Center in the 2015-2016 academic year. She was also a tutor for HEOP, on the Tech Crew for the Center for Activities, Recreation, and Leadership, and a First-Year Experience Peer Coach.
“The (EDGE) program reinforced the need for professional development workshops, dining etiquette, and networking with staff, faculty, and Bona alumni,” Arredondo said. “I strongly believe that HEOP gives their students the confidence to conquer anything that comes their way.”
Arredondo was effusive in her praise of the HEOP staff at St. Bonaventure.
“The HEOP staff sees the potential in their students,” she said. “They work so hard to collaborate with different departments to be a part of our Bonaventure experience and help us to become global citizens of the world upon leaving SBU.”
Kehrer met Arredondo in the summer of 2012 before she began her freshman year.
“The amount of growth I have seen in her both academically and individually is truly inspiring,” Kehrer said. “Her first few semesters were not ideal, but she never gave up. She took what she learned from those experiences and vowed to make her academics her number one priority.”
Arredondo, who finished her Bonaventure career on the dean’s list, realized she wanted to pursue a career in higher education after working a summer as a Peer Leader for HEOP.
“Kat has been a true role model to our younger students and is still continually reaching out to push them to do their best in order to achieve their greatest potential,” Kehrer said.
HEOP is designed to serve students who have the potential and interest in furthering their education, but due to certain life circumstances — financial and educational — higher education may not have initially been an option. Learn more about the program via the HEOP website at www.sbu.edu/HEOP.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #6 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.
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