Sosa honored with the Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence

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Zavier Sosa with Dr. Allen Ballard. Ballard, an honorary award recipient at the event, is a prize-winning author and historian.

At a glance

Alfred State student Zavier Sosa (Bronx, NY) was one of 45 SUNY EOP students honored with the Norman R. McConney, Jr. Award for Student Excellence.

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Alfred State student Zavier Sosa (Bronx, NY) was one of 45 SUNY EOP students honored with the Norman R. McConney, Jr. Award for Student Excellence. The award, now celebrating its third class of awardees, recognizes outstanding EOP students for their academic merit and strength in overcoming significant personal obstacles throughout their lives.

Sosa is a Digital Media & Animation major at Alfred State. “I had many obstacles when I was working towards completing my degree. My biggest struggle was my finances and mental health. It was a constant push and pull where I had no idea how much longer I had to stay in school since I had family that needed my support. Every semester I felt like I was walking on eggshells and anything out of place could make my future shatter. Despite the world of worries I had; I knew that it would be all worth it in the end.” 

Zavier Sosa with Dr. Allen Ballard. Ballard.

“Receiving the Norman McConney award was a recognition of all my hardships and perseverance. Hearing the stories of other students who faced similar challenges and hearing about all their achievements was inspiring. I felt less alone meeting others like me who put their best foot forward regardless of the pressure they faced from shouldering responsibilities. I would say to other students who are fighting against odds in the pursuit of their degree to continue working hard and do not give up.”

The honor is named in memory of Norman R. McConney, Jr. (1946–2016), a graduate of the University at Albany and former assistant dean for special programs at SUNY. McConney, alongside former Assembly Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve, helped create the EOP as a statewide program.

Coordinator of Educational Opportunity Program at Alfred State Cyan Corwine is incredibly proud of Zavier. “We believe Zavier was the perfect embodiment of this award. We are so grateful for opportunities like the Norman McConney Jr. Award, to recognize the dynamic efforts at play behind the scenes in so many of our students’ lives. Our EOP students are incredibly resilient and push against so many obstacles to make it not only to college but through it. They inspire us every day and it is a privilege to serve them in our professional lives.”

“The students we celebrate have their own story on how they got to SUNY, but they are unified by their incredible perseverance in pursuit of their academic dreams,” said SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. “Despite personal hardships, these individuals are driving forward to change the world. My congratulations to this year’s awardees and their families both on and off campus, and our humble thanks for the visionary work of former Assembly Deputy Speaker Eve and Mr. McConney.”

Since its inception in 1967, the EOP has provided access, academic support, and supplemental financial assistance to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. In its 55-year history, the EOP has served more than 78,000 students and evolved into one of the country's most successful college access programs.

In the current academic year, SUNY has nearly 8,000 EOP students on 50 SUNY campuses. EOP students often outperform their peers, with 74 percent of them graduating with a baccalaureate degree within six years.

About Norman R. McConney, Jr. 
SUNY awards Educational Opportunity Program students for their academic achievements in honor of Norman R. McConney, Jr. due to his legacy of public service, which encompassed several statewide initiatives to benefit underrepresented New Yorkers, including programs to prepare minority high school students for careers in the sciences and medicine and scholarships for students underrepresented in the licensed professions. Mr. McConney is also credited with helping found the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus, which later became the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus.