SUNY Oswego May 2024 graduate Cheyenne Sinchico was recently selected by the SUNY system to receive a Norman R. McConney, Jr. Award for EOP Student Excellence. 

Sinchico, who earned a degree in human development with a minor in health science, is a first-generation student and a transfer student from Onondaga Community College (OCC). She shared that her journey to higher education was far from easy. 

Although she was born in New York City, her family moved to Ecuador when she was young, and didn’t return to the U.S. until she was 10 years old.

Sinchico learned English as a second language and graduated from Fowler High School in Syracuse in 2020. While at Fowler, her school counselor connected her with the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).

“College wasn’t something my family could really think about, we couldn’t really afford it,” said Sinchico. “So [through] connecting with my school counselor she told me about opportunities [like] EOP.”

Sinchico began her higher education career at OCC and earned a degree in human services. Sinchico's success at OCC was reflected in her winning the Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence, the highest student honor in the SUNY system.

She then decided to transfer to Oswego.

“When I went to Oswego I also stayed in EOP, so EOP has traveled with me wherever I went,” said Sinchico. 

At Oswego, Sinchico has participated in internship opportunities through the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), is an advisement guide and is part of FirstLEAP, an on-campus coalition dedicated to uplifting first-generation students. 

“[FirstLEAP] gives me the opportunity to speak with and network with different staff members from Oswego,” said Sinchico. “We also have staff here who are first generation. That just really opened my eyes to what we can do to make students feel welcome.”

Since experiencing these opportunities at Oswego, Sinchico has decided to pursue her master's degree in higher education and hopes to be an academic advisor for students like her.

“I’m an advisement guide with the advisement center and I really enjoy doing that, working with students. Helping them sign up for classes, that’s something I want to do,” said Sinchico. “Connect them to resources... I want to do [that] for students like me, first-generation students or any students who might need help navigating college.”

Sinchico has taken on many leadership roles throughout her college career, including being a resident assistant for the EOP summer program at OCC; volunteering at a Micron and YWCA STEM camp for kids where she led various science-related activities; and supporting students in the Syracuse City School District with job searches, college applications, personalized school schedules and literacy. 

She is also a member of multiple honor societies, which include Chi Alpha Epsilon, Phi Kappa Phi, and Kappa Omicron Nu.

Along with her academic accomplishments and leadership, Sinchico also volunteers in her spare time with many community-building organizations, such as Mercy Works in Syracuse; the “Block Blitz” program, which brings together the community to repair, landscape and paint up to 50 homes in a single day; and the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

When asked what advice she would give to people who may be facing similar challenges to her, Sinchico said they should stay persistent and ask for resources.

“Be open to different opportunities. Never say no because you never know where those opportunities could lead you. And don’t be afraid to ask for help,” said Sinchico. “Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s a strength, and because I faced [these] challenges I was able to overcome it. Keep believing in yourself that you can do it, and if you start something make sure you finish it.”

About EOP and the award

The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) provides access to higher education for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who possess the potential to succeed in college. EOP at Oswego sponsors many different academic support services, including academic workshops, tutoring and providing free laptops and calculators to students in need.

Beginning in 1970, EOP students at SUNY Oswego have a long and rich history of engagement, accomplishments and institutional commitment. Recent graduates and current students have earned laurels for their engagement in leadership positions across campus in areas such as student government, residence life and housing, and student affairs. Additionally, EOP students gain recognition as scholarship award recipients and honor society members.

The honor is named in memory of Norman R. McConney, Jr., 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.

On April 18, SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. celebrated the SUNY system’s 52 recipients from across the state at a ceremony in Albany.

“Today, we celebrate the resilience and success of our SUNY EOP students,” Chancellor King said at the ceremony. “A student who is the granddaughter of an undocumented immigrant who struggled academically in high school, but today excels with a 3.7 GPA. A student who made it on the dean’s list while helping raise and provide for their siblings. Students who give back to their community to help younger kids have a better life. Each student we celebrate today has shown strength time and time again in pursuit of an education that will open the doors of opportunity and upward mobility.”