Opportunity Program students with David Wippman

Having arrived on campus on June 26, members of the Opportunity Program were among the first of the Class of 2020 to meet the college’s new president. David Wippman, who arrived on campus almost simultaneously with the students, joined the group of 39 for a photo followed by lunch on July 5.

“He struck up a conversation with almost every single student who was there,” reported Ashley Ramcharan '20 about lunch with the president. “He shook everyone’s hand. He seemed to care about more than just our education; he seemed to care about us. ... It is more than just education at Hamilton, it’s about connecting with others.” Ramisa Tasnim '20 added, “I feel very honored.”

The five-week summer Opportunity Program, directed by Phyllis Breland '80, introduces students to Hamilton’s academic rigor and assists students in building a personalized foundation for success. Students begin their day with an hour of physical education at 7 a.m. led by Opportunity Program alumnus and Hamilton Athletic Director Jon Hind ’80. Other courses in the students’ 12-hour schedule include math, government, history, English, science, philosophy and psychology. Students also participate in oral communications projects and community service and become familiar with other campus resources. Hamilton professors, deans and directors who teach in this program include Karen Brewer, Cindy Domack, David Walden, Jeff Landry, Bill Pfitsch, Margaret Thickstun, Phil Klinkner, Todd Franklin, Jon Hind '80, Robert Kantrowitz '82 and Jim Helmer.

Those who have participated in the Opportunity Program in previous years have often reflected back on the many benefits they derived. "The summer program was more than a summer program preparing me for college; it prepared me for life. In addition to academic challenges, I developed a substantial amount of resilience and confidence throughout that summer that followed me throughout my four years," said recent graduate Laura Rivera ’16. "I feel privileged to have participated in such a transformative program.” Elizabeth Vasquez ’19 added, “The summer program was difficult but worthwhile. I think it taught everyone just how to be a better student and a better person. It showed you what your values are and how to be independent.”

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