Maria Peralta

Hometown: Bronx, N.Y.
: Women's Studies

Activities: Member of Womyn’s Center , BLSU, Sustah Girl, HAVOC volunteer – food salvage, USE leader - 3 years, Gates Scholar, Opportunity Programs Summer Resident Advisor, Junior semester in Amsterdam

Wrote and Implemented Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grant - summer 2009-10

“The Higher Education Opportunity Program has provided me and my peers with the assistance and encouragement to succeed at an elite institution like Hamilton. The staff is supportive and creates a family like atmosphere. The trust and relationships I built with the HEOP staff allowed me to ease in to my college experience. I always have support despite being miles away from home.”


Amber Wheeless '11

Hometown: Worland, WY
Major: Religious Studies
Minor: Art History

Activities: Womyn's Center, Rainbow Alliance, Project SHINE tutor, Emerson Collaborative Research Grant recipient, HEOP Summer Programs RA, Alternative Spring Break, Academic Center for Excellence supervisor, Wellin Hall tech crew

Travelled through SIT's study abroad program in New Delhi, India.

"The Opportunity Program is my support system and family here at Hamilton. My peers and mentors in the Program are here both to help me when I am struggling and to celebrate with me when I succeed. Being a part of the Opportunity Program encourages me to be the best version of myself by making me accountable for my own personal and academic excellence. I couldn't be more thankful for the resources and support the Program provides me with each and every day."


Temi Ojo '11

Hometown: Chicago, IL
Major: Biology
Minor: Pre-Med

Activities: Cultural Chair of Black Latino Student Union, Hamilton College Cheerleading Team, Finesse Step Team, Sustah Girl Member

Studied abroad in Tanzania and Australia.

"When I was in high school, I was a part of a program called LINK Unlimited that helped me grow and flourish in my academic and personal life. I wanted that same feeling, so when I got accepted into Hamilton's Opportunity Programs, I felt right at home. Coming from a place like Chicago to Clinton, New York was a a big culture shock. During the summer, the program works really hard to get you adjusted to the heavy work load and campus life. The people in the office are your big supporters on campus, and whenever I needed something or simple words of wisdom they were always there to help. They do not let you fail at anything. They do not only help with your academics, but they make sure you grow as a person. Many times I have heard in the Opportunity Programs Office, "If you don't make yourself be seen, then you won't be... Speak up!" I have carried that advice with me everywhere and I am eternally grateful to Opportunity Programs."

Caitlin O'Dowd '11

Hometown: Jordan, Oman, Tunisia, Syria, Israel, Egypt
Major: Women's Studies
Minor: Government

Activities: Womyn's Center member, Sustah Girl member, Volunteer at Evelyn's House (Utica), Tutor for Young People's Project (Utica), HEOP Summer English Tutor

"I have spent most of my life overseas being the daughter of a diplomat and was particularly nervous about going to college in the United States as my immediate family still lives overseas. I was happy to get accepted into the Opportunity Program and it is because of this program that I made the final decision to come to Hamilton College.  This program helped me make one of the hardest transitions in my life thus far and has helped me grow and achieve things that two years ago seemed impossible.  The OPPORTUNITY to grow, change, learn, love and succeed are things that this program has given me and other students and I am very proud to be a part of something so great."


Sujitha Amalanayagam '10

Hometown: Bronx, NY
Major: Neuroscience

Activities: EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)- Three Years; EMT Crew Chief- junior year; Member of Emerson Literary Society (ELS); Member of Sustah Girls; Member of La Vanguardia (sophomore year)

"Home away from home. Opportunity Programs is my social network and support system. It is a great feeling to know that you are not alone and that you have a family here at Hamilton to help you with anything you need."

Charles (Siege) Santiago '09

Hometown: Brentwood, NY
Major: Sociology

Activities: Multimedia Intern for ITS; President and Host- Rhymelab Performance Group; 2008 Nominee, Bristol Fellowship- planning to study hip-hop's impact on race and class ideology around the world; Vice President and Historian- La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Incorporated, Alpha Tau Chapter; Business and Legal Intern for Atlantic Records, NYC- Summer 2006; LaVanguardia

"Opportunity Programs has been an integral factor in both my personal and academic success at Hamilton. In my four years as a student here, they've motivated me to become the leader I've always had the potential to become."

Katherine Kroleski '09

Hometown: New Rochelle, NY
Major: Sociology

Activities: Women's Ice Hockey Asst. Captain 2008; President of Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) 2008;Orientation Coordinator 2008, Orientation Leader 2006, 2007;NESCAC and Liberty League Representative;Women's Softball;Committee on Athletics; Chair for Relay for Life 2008;Dean of Students Office Intern; HAVOC participant

"The Opportunity program is one of those programs that when you read about it, you may get discouraged. It doesn't seem to be the most enjoyable. However, I promise you that if you come into it with an open and positive mind it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you have at Hamilton."

Jai Moorjani '09

Hometown: New York, NY
Major: History

Activities: President, Tropical Sol;  Vice President, Ballroom Dancing; Opportunity Programs Office Assistant; Asia Cultural Society member (ACS) – Freshman, Sophomore
Track and Field- Freshman; Brothers member- Freshman; Barista- Kafe 101

"The Opportunities program is a network of support that provides us with the tools and skills needed in order to be a successful student. They are my friends, my family and my pathway to a better future. I am grateful for their assistance. If not for the Opportunities Program, I would not be the person I am today."

Stephanie Ryder '09

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Major: Government

Activities: Judicial Board Class Representative; Co-chair of the Senior Gift; GOLD Scholar; Co-Captain - Women's Rugby team; Varsity Ice-Hockey member - 2 years; HALT (Hamilton Alumni Leadership Training) member; Internship: Paralegal at Clayman & Rosenberg

"The Opportunity Programs summer program proved to be my biggest academic challenge. While it took a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, it all paid off when classes started in the fall. While my room mates were struggling to adjust to their new collegiate workloads, Opportunity Programs had already prepared me to deal with my coursework and time managment, all the while creating a familiar outlet for help unavailable to my other classmates."

Abdelwahab Abdelghany '10

Hometown: Bronx, NY
Major: World Politics

Activities: Founder and President of Muslim Student Association; Senior Multicultural Ambassador - 2 years; Interfaith Council member; Student Manager - Beineke Village;
Accepted to New York Semester Program

Internships: America's Promise - First Focus, Citigroup, Bloomburg LP

"People refer to HEOP as comprehensive academic support program. The Hamilton HEOP program on the other hand is more like a mall; with everything a college student needs!"

Ashlyn Razzo '11

Hometown: Bronx, NY
Major: Theatre

Activities: Untitled@Large Member; USE Leader; Assistant Athletic Trainer for Women's Soccer & Lacrosse teams; Tour Guide; Member of HAVOC; Overnight Host; Hamilton College Ambassador; HEOP Resident Advisor Summer Program

"Words can not express what it felt like to look out into the audience of the opening night of my first play at Hamilton and, mid-bow, see the ear-splitting grins of the four amazing women of the Opportunity Programs. These women are my friends, my advisors, my family, my everything. Without them, I don't know where I would be at Hamilton. One thing is for sure, I definitely would not have had half as many laughs and great memories had they not been in my life. They make life at Hamilton better than anything I could have every imagined and then some."

Luvuyo Mandela

Hometown: Durban, South Africa
Major: Philosophy

Activities: President, Brother's Organization; Resident Advisor- 2 1/2 years; GOLD Scholar;  Alcohol Coalition member; BLSU member, Events Staff Manager; Audio Visual Paraprofessional; Search Committee for Residential Life Director

"The wonderful ladies in the Opportunity Programs have been a great and loving foundation that has allowed me to flourish in my various capacities. Opportunity Programs has challenged me to be myself and be my own determinant of the character I have become.  I am proud to have come through the ranks and look forward to the future challenges Mama and the ladies have prepared me for."

Jia Huang '09

Hometown: Brooklyn
Major: Asian Studies
Minor: Education

Activities: SHINE - tutor at Refugee Center in Utica; HAVOC volunteer; Volunteer in Clinton Elementary School; Teacher Assistant - Clinton Early Learning Center; Asian Cultural Society (ACS) member; Sustah Girl member; Abroad program in India

"Opportunity Programs does not only provide me with financial and academic support, but more importantly, with emotional support and caring that only family members can provide. I am truly grateful to the program and the staff members, and also to myself for siezing this opportunity to make my dream come true."

Renaldo Davis '09

Hometown: Bronx, NY
Major: Communications

Activities: Resident Advisor; Brothers member; ALCC Supervisor; Social Chair - Delta Upsilon; Varsity Football - Freshman and Sophomore Years; Summer Internship - Advance Media Sales Intern - ESPN

"I remember I was less than happy when I found out I would have to spend the summer before college taking classes. Now I appreciate those five weeks and understand I would not be where I am today if it were not for the Opportunity Program".

Byron Johnson '09

Hometown: Chicago, IL
Major: Psychology

Activities: Former President of Black Student Union; Brothers member; LaVanguardia member; Accepted Mentor; Inducted into Doers and Thinkers

"The Opportunity Program is more than providing many students the opportunity to attend Hamilton College; the program enables individuals to personally grow and achieve in many areas of life, surpassing their own expectations.   Without the Opportunity Program and the staff, I would not have learned the valuable skills that will allow me to pursue my goals."

Marie Piayai '09

Hometown: Chadwicks, NY
Major: World Politics

Activities: Resident Advisor; Site coordinator for DEAR (Drop Everything and Read); VITA volunteer; Orientation Leader; Semester in Washington DC participant

"Without the HEOP program, I would not be the student I am at Hamilton College. The program showed me what it meant to be a college student and made me realize that it is important to make myself stand out in any surrounding.  They expect and bring out the best in all of their students.  The Opportunity Programs office has enabled and motivated me to pursue my goals."

Gabriela Frias '08

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Major: English Creative Writing

Activities: Hamilton College Accessibility and Diversity Committee member; Spectator features writer, copy editor; Inducted in Was Los (honor society); Past President of Tropical Sol; Member of La Vanguardia, HEAT dance troupe, Sustah Girl

"Throughout my experience in the HEOP/Scholars program, I have evolved and made a significant change to how I am as a person and student. I started the program as a timid and quiet person with the feeling of inadequacy. But with the support of the program and the people behind it at Hamilton, I really did break out of that mold and it changed me for the better. The warm and caring HEOP staff at Hamilton and the amazing resources that are given to us makes it so worth while; I wouldn't have been able to have such a great academic and life experience without the help of Opportunity Programs."

Contact Information

Phyllis A.H. Breland

Director of Opportunity Programs
McEwen Hall 104
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4398 315-859-4912 pbreland@hamilton.edu
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