Cayuga EOP Student Receives SUNY’s McConney Award for Excellence

A student enrolled in 91’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) was recently named a recipient of SUNY’s prestigious Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence.

Maimuna Abdi, a Nottingham High School graduate who is currently enrolled in Cayuga’s Liberal Arts and Sciences: Mathematics & Science program, was one of 52 recipients recognized at the awards ceremony in Troy earlier this month. The award, now in its fifth year, honors EOP students for their academic success and persistence in surmounting personal challenges.

“Each day at Cayuga, Maimuna rose to the challenges that face college students in the classroom and in their lives away from campus,” said Cayuga EOP Director Debra Joseph-McEwen. “She strives for academic excellence in each class, and as a result she is now a recipient of the 2024 Norman R. McConney Jr. Award. I’m proud of everything she’s accomplished at Cayuga, and am confident she will continue to do amazing work in the years ahead.”

Abdi, of Syracuse, enrolled at Cayuga in the Spring 2023 semester after starting her higher education experience at another institution. She found the smaller classes at Cayuga allowed her to build a stronger rapport with the faculty, helping her earn a place on the academic accolades list in her second semester.

“At Cayuga, I found that the faculty were always willing to work with me, to go over topics a second time and to help me if I was struggling. I’m very appreciative of everything they’ve done for me, and the extra time they were willing to spend to help me succeed,” said Abdi.

She thanked her older brother and sister for always supporting her as she continued her education, and noted that she also developed a strong connection with Ms. Joseph-McEwen and EOP at Cayuga.

EOP, which is now available at 54 SUNY institutions and is in its second year at Cayuga, provides access for New York State students who demonstrate academic potential and a desire to earn a college degree. The program assists students who are both academically and financially disadvantaged, and offers additional services such as one-to-one personal and academic counseling and free individual tutorial assistance.

“Since I’ve started at Cayuga, I’ve worked hard and done well in my classes, but I was still very surprised and honored to receive this award,” said Abdi. “Ms. Joseph-McEwen and EOP have been an unbelievable help since I started at Cayuga, and she has always believed in me. I would not have won this award without her.”

Abdi is pursuing a career as a pediatric or labor and delivery nurse. She’s transferring to St. Joseph’s College of Nursing to pursue her degree starting in the Summer 2024 term.

The award is named in memory of Norman R. McConney Jr., a SUNY Albany graduate and former assistant dean for special programs at SUNY who advanced several statewide initiatives to benefit underrepresented New York State residents. He was also one of the leading voices in creating EOP as a statewide program, which in its 56-year history has served more than 85,000 students.

For details on Cayuga’s EOP program, visit /students/services/educational-opportunity-program/. For more information about the Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence, visit .