MEOA Fall Highlights
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Civic Engagement for Social Change

The 32nd annual conference was held on October 13 at the Devens Conference Center in Devens, MA. The conference offered a wide variety of content and and was kicked off with Dr. Charles Desmond as the keynote speaker. Dr. Desmond inspired and urged the MEOA community to remain steadfast in their advocacy for college access and success programs. He asserted that the vitality and strength of our communities hinges on education and we all must work to make it accessible for everyone.  He charged members with the responsibility to change the barriers that stand in our students' way and participate in the political process to become advocates for social change and to make attaining the American Dream a reality for our students again. 

Workshops were offered in a range of topics including impact of trauma on development, breaking gender stereotypes in STEM fields, the redesigned SAT,  developing partnerships, advocacy, working with ELL students, and more. 

Five scholarship recipients were honored at the conference. Each student received a scholarship award in the amount of $750. While many of the students could not be in attendance, they graciously submitted a video acceptance of their scholarship. Juan Mederos Velazquez, MassEdCO,  was honored in person. He shared his experience with hardship but uplifted conference goers with how he overcame those hardships. He is thankful for the MEOA scholarship which he will use as a new freshman at Assumption College in Worcester. Other recipients included:
Eugenia Cojocaru, former participant in Northfield Mount Hermon Upward Bound and student at Clark University in Worcester.  
Anthony Delgado former participant in Northern Essex Community College Student Support Services and student at UMass Lowell.
Laurine Faro, former participant in Northern Essex Community College Student Support Services and student at Merrimack College.
Shaina Wallace, former participant in Mount Wachusett Community College Student Support Services and Smith College student.

Meet the Board
MEOA Board is excited to get to work this year and has new and familiar faces at the table.

President- Taryn Tomkins, Gear UP Director, MassEdCO. Taryn has previously served on the board as the membership chair and in other capacities for the past 10 years. She says, "I was inspired to become MEOA President because it seemed like a natural progression over my years of service. I would like to possess a greater knowledge base of not only the many TRIO and GEAR UP programs throughout the state, but how these programs can come together for advocacy and accessibility for the students for whom we serve." 

Vice President/Conference Chair-
Naomi Brown-Jones
College Advising & Alumni Coordinator Urban Scholars, UMass Boston. She says, "I was encouraged to join the board by the previous VP and close friend, Rachel Mullins. After learning more about the responsibilities of the VP, I believed that the position would be a great fit for my interests and skills.

Secretary-Addison Barwise, Staff Assistant, Dual Enrollment, MWCC Division of Access & Transition she says  "I have been a part of MEOA for a few years now and am looking forward to contributing to our organization's work. I hope to help make sure our meetings and projects are run efficiently, thereby increasing the value we help to provide for our students and colleagues."

Professional Development- Kristina Ryan EOC Ed Advisor, MassEdCO and Sharmese GunnGateway to College Resource Specialist, MWCC.  Kristina says, "I hope to host a meaningful professional development day that will enable professionals who attend to better support their students and clients [and] take away tangible tools they can use in their everyday tasks and jobs."

Membership-Andrew Goodwin, GEAR UP Director, MWCC, he shares, "I am hoping to learning the Membership Management process and I hope to engage some new members to the organization and re-engage with former members who are no longer part of the active membership of the organization."

Alumni- Grace Ajayi, GEAR UP Supervisor, ASA, and Tanner Senter, GEAR UP Ed Advisor, ASA. Grace  joins the board because  "It seems like a good opportunity to contribute to meaningful work in collaboration with other educational opportunity programs while connecting to people who have vast experience in these programs. It will also be an experience to broaden my knowledge of how an non-profit organization works." Tanner says, "I finished my Master's Program at Wheelock College for Organizational Leadership. Within the program, I obtained a wealth of knowledge in regards to the importance of a company/organization's Board and its members. Joining the MEOA board appears to be a great opportunity to take what I gained from school and apply my skills."

External Relations-Jada Waters, Resource Specialist, Gateway to College, HCC, 

Returning to the board are:
Treasurer -Gaurav Khanna, Director, TRIO Student Support Services Programs, MWCC  
State Liaison/Fair Share Chair-Andrea DawesDirector of Programs and Partnerships, Talent Search, UMass Boston 
Scholarship Chair-Valerie LaPorte, North Central EOC Director, MWCC 
Communications Chair-Breyana Roman, Assistant Director, Northfield Mount Hermon Upward Bound
Research and Development Chair-Jeff FoulkesAssociate Director, Urban Scholars Program, UMASS Boston

Special thanks to our Past President, Amanda Bernasconi, Associate Director, Upward Bound, Suffolk University, who "Hopes to support the current president in a meaningful way so that they feel as if they are capable of accomplishing their set objectives and to recruit new members to the board."
Conference Keynote Speaker, Dr. Charles Desmond.
Scholarship recipient Juan Mederos Velazquez and nominator Elizabethe Plante.
NEOA President Ramon Gonzalez
Conference presenters Reggie Jean and Gaelyn Hastings
COE's Annual Policy Seminar, Now More than Ever, will be held March 19-22, 2017 in Washington DC. MEOA scholarships are available for current MEOA Members working in TRIO and Alumni. This is a great opportunity to learn advocacy and more about how TRIO functions at the federal level. Applications are due on December 30, 2016 and are available below. 
Alumni Scholarship
Staff Scholarship 
Mark your calendars for MEOA's Annual Advocacy Day on January 17, 2017 at the Massachusetts State House. Please RSVP here. 
Looking for leadership opportunities beyond your current job? Consider joining the MEOA Board. We currently seek the position of President-Elect. The President-Elect serves on the board a year before their presidency, for one year as President, and for one year as Past President. Contact Past President, Amanda Bernasconi for information,
Consider serving as a board or committee member during the
2016-2017 year. 

Looking for President-Elect, Conference Committee members, and Scholarship Committee members. 

Contact MEOA Past President Amanda Bernasconi for more information

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