Barry Cosgrove, a 1979 Marquette alumnus, said the Educational Opportunity Program rescued his experience at the university.
“My junior year, finances were really a problem, and I saw a flyer that said I could make money tutoring (in EOP),” Cosgrove said. “I looked into it and (said), ‘To heck with tutoring.’ I was eligible.”
Cosgrove is one of over 2,000 Marquette students to graduate from EOP since its establishment in 1969.
EOP is an academic support program for low-income and first-generation students that offers services including need-based financial aid, academic advising, tutoring and career counseling.
The program receives grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal TRIO Program, which aims to provide opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
EOP is currently honoring its 50th anniversary with a yearlong series of events, including an alumni reunion during Homecoming weekend.
The reunion’s main event of the will be a dinner and dance at the Monaghan Grand Ballroom in the Alumni Memorial Union Oct. 5, Eric Williams, EOP executive director, said.
The reception will recognize the original 1969 EOP cohort. There will also be remarks from Arnold Mitchem, the founding director of Marquette’s EOP, and University President Michael Lovell.
Additionally, alumni will have the opportunity to participate in “The Opening Meeting” Oct. 4, a tradition dating back to 1969 in which all EOP students gather to be welcomed back to school and receive important information for the upcoming year.
Lovell announced the formation of a steering committee to create events for the EOP 50th celebration during his 2019 presidential address in January. The committee includes vice president of the Office of Public Affairs Rana Altenburg, president of the Council for Opportunity and Education Maureen Hoyler, vice provost for academic affairs John Su and vice president for inclusive excellence William Welburn. The committee also incorporates representatives from a variety of departments around campus.
“I hope (EOP alumni) get a chance to connect with today’s students,” Su said. “Deepening those connections really helps Marquette live up to being the fullest community.”
Cosgrove, who now runs private equity firm Blackmore Partners, said he looks forward to attending the reunion events.
“Even today, (EOP) impacts the way I think and approach things,” Cosgrove said. “(The EOP staff) had great empathy, great patience and great dedication. You just try to copy those skills when you see people that could use a little bit of help.”
The 50th anniversary celebration also includes a partnership with the Marquette Forum, which will host speakers centered on the theme of “Pathways to Educational Access and Opportunity.” The first speaker is Saul Flores, a philanthropist and photojournalist who will speak about first-generation college student issues in the Weasler Auditorium Sept. 25.
Sara Manjee, Marquette University Student Government president and member of both the steering committee and EOP, said the partnership was a natural fit.
“The theme is focused on asking, ‘How are we … leveling the playing field for all students to succeed at the collegiate level?’” Manjee said. “When you see a program like EOP that does exactly that, it’s a really unique pairing.”
Dario Bustos-Rico, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and member of EOP, said he wouldn’t have been able to afford Marquette without EOP. The program has offered him support throughout his college experience.
“Being a first-generation student, you can’t really ask your parents for help,” Bustos-Rico said. “The support you get with EOP gives you a foundation for your career in college.”