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EOF Graduation Streaming Live Garnered Hundreds of <3 <3 <3s

The emotion from family and fellow students was palpable.

John De La Rosa, a graduating senior in the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences Educational Opportunity Fund, began his speech.

“As I think about what it means to be a part of the EOF Class of 2020, I feel overwhelmed with emotion and many different thoughts,” De La Rosa said. “Out of all, the most empowering would be the sense of identity, appreciation, and perseverance I feel at this very moment.”

John De La Rosa De La Rosa was neither standing on a stage nor facing an audience during the May 5 celebration for EOF graduates. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the celebration was streamed live through social media—and the emotion was visible as fellow students and families sent a stream of hearts, balloons, and smiley face emojis across the screen as De La Rosa spoke.

“To be able to celebrate and acknowledge our students who worked so incredibly hard to get to Rutgers and graduate was the most important thing to me,” says Nancy Capasso-Lee, Senior Program Manager, who donned a formal black dress and stood in front of a wall of sparkling gold streamer for her role as MC. “It was a no brainer to use Instagram as the platform to connect with them for this important occasion. Even though we were not in the same room the energy during our live celebration made it feel like we were!”

De La Rosa is among 343 expected graduates of the EOF program in 2020.

EOF CounselorsThe Educational Opportunity Fund provides access to higher education for students who demonstrate the potential to succeed in college, possess a high level of academic motivation, and who qualify for admission on the basis of academic and financial need. EOF Scholars receive a grant that is part of their financial aid package and participate in a range of programs designed to support their success in college.

The Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program is the largest in New Jersey, serving the School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers Business School, Mason Gross School of the Arts, the School of Management and Labor Relations, and the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

It is the mission of the Rutgers SAS EOF Program to create an environment, which encourages academic excellence, and introduces students to all of the resources and enrichment opportunities that are available to them at Rutgers University.

Katherine Tapia and family“Being part of the EOF family has been fundamental to my academic success,” says Katherine Tapia, a transfer student with three young children who wrote an English honors thesis, “The Role of Monsters in Medieval Imaginaries,” studied abroad in Malta, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa while at Rutgers. She has been accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan to study Medieval Anglo-Saxon Literature. 

“I am a non-traditional student, so EOF provided me with a safe and comprehensive environment to explore my academic options. I also benefited from the counseling and financial support that I got. EOF supported me, so I was able to take summer classes and even take a class abroad. This was fundamental for academic completion.” 

“It is a tribute to your motivation and perseverance that you are here today,” Dr. Michelle J. Shostack, EOF Director, told the graduates. “I know that the road to earning your degree was a challenging one for many of you, due to a variety of reasons, but you did it!  As you reflect upon this achievement, please take some time to think about its significance. You will now be alumni of Rutgers University.”

De La Rosa also asked graduates to reflect: “Make your legacy about knowledge you can pass on and how you can empower the class of 2021, 2022... 2030. Make your legacy about facilitating journeys and experiences for those who find themselves in shoes you once were in, and those who will be moving forward.”



Click on the images below to learn more about each of the Class of 2020 EOF graduates!


Class of 2020 SAS EOF Scholars