Each summer, Opportunity Programs welcomes to campus a new cohort of incoming students for an intensive academic college transition program. The five-week program, directed by Phyllis Breland (HEOP) '80, introduces students to Hamilton’s academic rigor and assists them in building a personalized foundation for success, including an opportunity to fulfill College graduation requirements in quantitative and symbolic reasoning and in physical education.
A large part of the program’s success is due to the student staff. This year, more than 20 students served as residential advisors, academic tutors and support staff. Consisting of both Opportunity Program and non-program students, as well as a few recent graduates, the staff is as diverse as the students being served.
“The summer staff is carefully selected based upon commitment, ability, skill and willingness to play a role in the positive development of others,” said Breland.
What makes the Opportunity Programs’ summer program distinct? The reasons staff chose to work for the program tell that story. “Opportunity Programs helped me, so I wanted to help OP,” said geosciences tutor Lexi Marks (OP ’20). Writing tutor Fain Riopelle ’17, who plans to pursue teaching as a career, said, “Working for Opportunity Programs provided me with a good post-graduate experience. Getting students interested in writing when they don’t think they are good at it is rewarding,” he added.
Cimone Jordan (OP ’19) noted that the program is “crafted around every student,” and, “There is a lot of work that goes into this program before the students arrive.”
This is the second working summer for Head Residential Advisor Lizz Vasquez (OP ’19) who said she enjoyed last year because “I was able to help students and myself both emotionally and academically.” She witnessed the impact the student staff had “when first-years would come up to us throughout the academic year to say thanks for all we did. It’s great watching the growth and development, watching students become comfortable,” Vasquez added.
Government tutor Baillie Riggs OP ’20 said that being a tutor was “Good review for me. I had to know how to address and fix the problems students had.”
Student staff agreed that Opportunity Programs provides immense resources to students from all backgrounds. “OP knows exactly what students need while allowing students to self-discover (their strengths),” Lizz Vasquez concluded.