Rashelle Huntley, a senior in Advertising and Marketing Communications, was named a 2022 recipient of the Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence. She was one of only 45 students selected for this honor from across SUNY’s 64 campuses. The award recognizes students in SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) for their academic merit and strength in overcoming significant personal obstacles throughout their lives.
“When I first heard about receiving it, I would say my first feeling was very shocked,” said Huntley. “It’s kind of like, why me? I know there are other EOP students that have very unique stories. I’m very grateful.”
The honor is named in memory of Norman R. McConney, Jr. (1946–2016), a graduate of the University at Albany and former assistant dean for special programs at SUNY. McConney, alongside former Assembly Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve, helped create the EOP as a statewide program.
Huntley, a Bronx native, is scheduled to graduate this December. She had learned about FIT through a college fair held at her high school, and a guidance counselor suggested that she apply for the EOP program. “I was like, wow, the school’s perfect for me. The EOP program has helped a lot, even in many more ways than I had initially understood they would be helping.”
Since its inception in 1967, the EOP has provided access, academic support, and supplemental financial assistance to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. In its 55-year history, the EOP has served more than 78,000 students and evolved into one of the country’s most successful college access programs.
An unexpected highlight of Huntley’s FIT experience was placing third in a design contest hosted by jewelry designer Stella & Dot, for which she created a three-piece jewelry collection. The contest was open to students from all majors, and marked the first time Stella & Dot had engaged a college student to design a limited-edition collection.
Huntley said, “Doing that contest has boosted my confidence to not be afraid to go after opportunities that seem out of my league because I’m not a design student.”
She says she’s still trying to sort out which direction to take her career, and that she is open to seeing new opportunities.
Her advice for others? “Never be afraid to keep your faith in your focus. Focus on God because we’re people. We make mistakes.”
For more information about FIT’s EOP, visit fitnyc.edu/eop or contact the office at (212) 217-4170.