By Jacqueline Escobar
On Jan. 14, HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program) students were informed by email about their present and future, moving forward without William Clyde, the director of the HEOP program on campus for almost 38 years. Clyde left the university in January and is now the EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) director at Nassau Community College. The HEOP director from the LIU Brooklyn campus will come to campus one day a week to oversee the remaining students.
In a letter to HEOP students, Clyde wrote: “I ask this of you now and moving ahead—continue to be steadfast, focused and diligent in the pursuit to complete your education. HEOP at its best reflects the substance of the internal fortitude, grit and perseverance of students who do not accept mediocrity in their pursuit of excellence. It is my sincere hope and prayer that each of you will continue to strive to become the best version of yourself.”
The unexpected announcement left HEOP students with mixed emotions. What will be their next moves?
Ingrid Jimenez, a sophomore health science major, hopes to be accepted into the radiology program. Although she was shocked about the news of Mr. Clyde leaving, she believes this this will ultimately motivate her to do much better.
“The HEOP scholarship is what allows me to be a student still on this campus; without the financial assistance, I wouldn’t be here” Jimenez said. She will be keeping the financial assistance HEOP gives her.
Jimenez believes that without the assistance she gets, especially for books and supplies for her program, she would not be able to receive the same opportunities other students have. Although there is the assumption that students receive “a full ride” with the HEOP scholarship, she stated that, “just like others students, I’m paying a balancing on my tuition.” Although HEOP grants students help with their tuition, students still have to pay the remaining balance.
Jimenez’s first choice during high school was to attend Nassau Community College. However, she ultimately chose LIU Post when she was accepted with HEOP on her side. She strongly believes that the program benefits those who are not financially ready for college. “HEOP helps people from middle to lower class to attend schools like this one,” she said.
“I think if HEOP was erased completely, I think it would suck because without it, there are a lot of intelligent students who may not get the chance to go college or any university because they may not have the finances to do so; this is what HEOP has helped all of us with,” Jimenez added.
Jimenez plans to stay at Post, despite the changes. “I was really shocked that Clyde left and I’ve spoken to his replacement and he’s also helpful too; I was just so used to being comfortable by being able to come to Mr. Clyde with any issues or problems that I was dealing with and it’s sad,” Jimenez said.
Nyjaya Pyatt, a sophomore psychology major, plans to return for the fall 2019 semester as well, although she said that she would consider transferring since the changes were implemented.
“The reason why I would transfer is because I feel like HEOP is not the same since my freshman year experience. I remember all the stories that I’ve heard about HEOP, when I heard it was fun and now it seems like no one, even the administration, doesn’t want HEOP around,” Pyatt said.
Pyatt said that she would go to another school if it gave her the financial opportunity like HEOP does. “HEOP is just not how it used to be; there was a lot of running around and changes for us from us not having tutors, from our location moving one place to another, it seemed like a lot of drama,” Pyatt said.
Like Jimenez, Pyatt is disappointed that Clyde is no longer at LIU. “When I found out Mr. Clyde was leaving, I was actually really sad; it was hard for me to go through the email without crying, I felt like he really cared about us and he wanted the best for us, even though some students felt like he was hard and snappy on us, but he really cared for us in a different way than the administration here does; he made sure we reached our potential when life got so tough on us,” Pyatt said.
Pyatt believes that the LIU administration treats HEOP students differently from other students and that the “labeling” should stop.
“The fact that we are in HEOP and we don’t get success coaches like regular students have says something about this school,” Pyatt said. “Every other person, even honors students, athletic students, have success coaches but we don’t.” Although Pyatt plans to stay at Post, she is still questioning whether she should transfer.
Angelina Lynch, psychology major, plans to transfer for fall 2019 because Post does not offer the program that she initially wanted. Although she said that HEOP has nothing to do with her plans, she thinks the program is not going to help the way it did when Clyde was on campus.
“I don’t think it will help the way it did without Clyde on the support level; he was always there to listen and give advice; now we have no one,” she said.
The HEOP program, Lynch said, “has helped me financially. Without HEOP, I probably would have not gone to school due to not being able to afford it and I believe it helps and will help people in the same position.”
“It’s sad to see Clyde go, and I miss him dearly; he was great and very helpful, he was there for everyone at anytime but I am happy for him moving up; does it hurt HEOP that he left? Yes, but it is what it is,” Lynch said.