By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: Education | Issue: June 2009
Christopher Davis, academic advisor at the Educational Opportunity Center, can help you figure out ways to pay for college.
“My philosophy is that everyone knows someone who should be in college but isn’t,” says Christopher Davis, academic advisor at the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC), located at Tulsa Community College’s southeast campus, 81st and Highway 169. “We reach out to low-income, first-generation college students and help show them that through education, a better life is possible. And our services are completely free.”
Perhaps you think it’s too much hassle to return to school, or you simply don’t know where to begin. The EOC is a nonprofit TRIO organization federally funded by a grant from the United States Department of Education. The center, sponsored by Tulsa Community College since 2002, is designed to alert individuals to the variety of educational and career options available, and motivate them to pursue those opportunities.
“I’m really proud to be a part of the EOC staff,” says Davis. “We’re here to lift people up through education. Studies show that there is a direct link between a parent’s socioeconomic status and education level and how far their child will go in school. We’re working to end the cycle of families not going to college. Continuing your education not only improves your wallet, it improves your entire life. By going to school, you’re benefiting yourself, your family and your community as a whole.”
Davis, along with the rest of the EOC staff, including program director Amy Gilbert, academic counselors Shay Taylor and Penny Walston, and administrative assistant June Karraker, will help answer any questions you may have: Is it too late for me to get a college education? How do I know what the best school is for me? Can I really afford to go to college? Am I eligible for financial aid and scholarships? How can I work and go to school at the same time? Can anyone help me with all the paperwork?
The EOC is available no matter what your needs are, providing assistance with the admissions process and financial aid forms for any school, information on two and four year colleges and vocational schools, academic and financial aid workshops, referrals to ABE and GED programs and ESL classes, career exploration activities and interest inventory services, scholarship resources, grant and student loan information, help with ACT and SAT registration and preparation, and self-help workshops.
“We start from square one – ‘I want to go to school’ – and continue all the way to helping you enroll in classes,” explains Davis. “A lot of people drop out of college for one reason or another: they're working multiple jobs, they’ve started a family, they’ve gotten bogged down in student loans. Education is a lifestyle choice, and we figure out a game plan no matter what your situation is.”
The EOC understands how intimidating it can be to take the first step to returning to school. “It’s hard to walk on campus if you’re not a student – you can feel like an outsider,” says Davis. “We want you to know that you will become part of the club. We’ll translate jargon, help with all of the online passwords, stand in line with you at the financial aid office, and give you a lot of useful tips to make the transition easier.”
Perhaps you live across town and are unable to visit the EOC. “We’re lucky enough to be equipped with the resources to go that extra mile and be flexible,” says Davis. “If someone doesn’t have transportation to the campus, we’ll meet them in a public place. Recently I helped someone fill out their financial aid forms at a public library close to their home.” The EOC also has satellite offices at TCC northeast campus, OSU-Okmulgee, and Workforce OK in Sapulpa.
If you or someone you know wants to go to college but needs help getting there, call (918) 595-8600 or stop by for a visit at TCC’s southeast campus. The EOC is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and serves Tulsa, Creek, Okmulgee and Osage Counties.
Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.