Apr 12, 2021
The Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program at St. Bonaventure University announced the winners of two annual awards today.
Aminata Fofana, a senior political science major from the Bronx, won the Margaret T. Bryner HEOP Scholarship. Rafael Quezada, a senior strategic communication major from New York City, received the Alexis Reyes Franciscan Spirit Award.
The Margaret T. Bryner HEOP Scholarship recognizes a junior or senior HEOP student who has demonstrated significant achievements in academic success, leadership, co-curricular activities, service, and professional preparation. Applicants must also write an essay describing the impact of HEOP on their collegiate journey and explain how they plan to make positive future contributions to the lives of others.
Fofana’s academic achievements are impressive; she made the dean’s list numerous times and consistently earned some of the highest grades in her HEOP cohort. Her research into mass incarceration and internship experience in legal advocacy have shaped her career goals to work with at-risk youth in urban communities.
“I knew I wanted to go to college to study law and politics,” says Fofana. “I also knew without financial assistance this dream was unlikely to happen. HEOP gave me the opportunity to break generational curses.”
In addition to her academic success, Fofana has represented HEOP during the annual Student Aid Advocacy Day in Albany. She met with state legislators to advocate for increased funding for student financial aid, especially opportunity programs like HEOP.
Maggie Young, associate director of HEOP, praised Fofana’s commitment to service and improving her community: “Aminata has made good use of her HEOP opportunities, and will no doubt continue making a positive impact on her home community.”
The Alexis Reyes Franciscan Spirit Award was created in memory of a member of the HEOP Class of 2022 who tragically passed away while returning to campus her sophomore year. The award recognizes a student who, like Alexis, positively influences their classmates. The recipient exemplifies Alexis’ personal characteristics including kindness, loyalty, work ethic, positivity, and ability to inspire others.
For two consecutive summers, Quezada assisted the summer program, helping prepare incoming HEOP students for the challenges of collegiate academics. He provided academic and personal advice, tutored, and hosted activities to help students adjust to the university. His leadership extended beyond his formal positon, continuing to mentor new students throughout their first year in college.
“Rafael is the type of student who intentionally fosters conversation with his peers,” says Young. “He is someone you can always count on to lead by example.”
Quezada’s work ethic extended into other influential leadership roles. He served as the creative director for the university’s American Advertising Federation team and as a student representative on the President’s Commission for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
St. Bonaventure’s Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program is a college access program jointly sponsored by the university and the New York State Education Department.
HEOP provides a broad range of academic, personal, and financial assistance to students who, because of educational and economic circumstances, would otherwise be unable to attend a postsecondary educational institution. More information is available at www.sbu.edu/HEOP.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2020, St. Bonaventure was named the #2 regional university value in New York and #3 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.