By Elisabeth Costanzo Stewart

College-bound students are often given the advice to embrace every opportunity presented throughout their academic journey. While most students interpret this guidance to mean “join a club” or “take an interesting elective,” recent Liberal Arts – Individual Studies: A.S. graduate Alyssa Madramootoo took “embrace every opportunity,” literally. Throughout her time at SUNY Broome, Madramootoo served as Resident Assistant in the Student Village, presided over the Student Assembly as the College’s first student Chief of Staff, and was named the president of the LYLAS (Love You Like A Sister) Club. This past April, Alyssa was honored with the Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for EOP Student Excellence, SUNY’s highest achievement for Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) students. 

Now bound for SUNY Oneonta to continue her goal of becoming a school counselor, Madramootoo, proudly carries her SUNY Broome memories with her as a foundation for what the ideal college experience should be.

Alyssa Madramootoo’s story begins and eventually circles back to Broome County. After spending her toddler years in Binghamton, her family relocated to Florida in search of healthier living in a warmer climate.  Post Florida, Alyssa spent a brief, but transformative stint in Queens, NY. The Madramootoo family eventually returned to the Southern Tier when Alyssa was in the seventh grade, where she divided her time between school and the Boys & Girls Club, first as an attendee, then as an employee. As Alyssa entered her junior year of high school, she was fairly certain that going to college wasn’t for her. But that was in 2020, and the unprecedented months of isolation gave Madramootoo the much-needed time to weigh her options.

“I felt like the pandemic robbed me of my main high school years,” reflected Madramootoo. “I thought that my education would end at Binghamton High School, but the months I spent in lockdown really gave me the space and time to figure out what I wanted out of my future. My mom worked nights during the pandemic, so I had a lot of quiet time in the evenings to map out my path.” 

While at BHS, Madramootoo participated in the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, a student success program designed to support Binghamton students academically, professionally, and personally. After sharing her desire to go to college with her Hillside mentors, they directed her to apply to SUNY Broome’s Educational Opportunity Program. Like Binghamton’s HWSC, EOP provides access, academic support, and financial aid to first-time, full-time students who show promise for succeeding in college, but may need additional support throughout their studies. Venessa L. Rodriguez, Director of EOP, welcomed Alyssa to SUNY Broome with open arms. 

“I cried when Venessa told me that I was accepted into the program,” Madramootoo shared. “I can still remember her hugging me and saying, ‘Welcome to the EOP Family!’ Venessa taught me to view being a student at SUNY Broome as a gift. Whenever I worried that I couldn’t do something, she was right there to remind me that I could!” 

Alyssa and Director of EOP, Venessa L. Rodriguez. Photo Credit: Matt Ebbers

As part of the Educational Opportunity Program, Alyssa was invited to participate in EOP’s Summer Advancement Academy.  Now a free, four-week residential program, the Summer Advancement Academy is designed to ease each student’s transition to college through a series of academic workshops, community-building activities, and exposure to campus support services. It was during the Academy that Madramootoo learned the value of “saying yes” to new opportunities. As a result, Alyssa soon became one of the busiest girls on campus. 

“I found myself saying, ‘I’ll go’ or ‘I’ll try’ whenever an opportunity was shared with me,” Madramootoo reflected. “A great example is becoming an RA. I was never allowed to have a sleepover when I was a little girl. Then, during our Summer Advancement Academy, I learned about what it would be like to live on campus. The Residential Life staff took an interest in me and saw my potential. Next thing I know, I’m an RA, hosting late-night study sessions and having a giant sleepover every night!” 

Through SUNY Broome’s Student Activities and Campus Life division, Alyssa and her friends spent their free time traveling to amusement parks, visiting museums and galleries, and attending lectures and book signings. When a specialty elective (Anthropology 288: Storytelling and Heritage) was offered to encourage students to explore different cultures through travel, shared experiences, and storytelling, Alyssa didn’t hesitate to “say yes” to that too and was off to Querétaro, Mexico. Her enthusiasm was so vibrant that a new position in the College’s Student Assembly, “Chief of Staff,” was created specifically with her in mind.    

Madramootoo’s extracurricular efforts were not in vain, and at the end of the Spring 2024 semester, she was named a Norman R. McConney Jr. scholar. This award recognizes the academic and personal achievements of outstanding EOP students across the SUNY system. 

“I came to SUNY Broome as an anxious 19-year-old and grew into a young woman who now receives compliments from the people I truly admire and respect,” Madramootoo said. “It’s bittersweet to see this chapter end, but I am so encouraged about what’s to come.” 

SUNY Broome still has openings in our Fall 2024 EOP cohort! Learn more about the Educational Opportunity Program through our website or by calling 607-778-5220.

Alyssa standing for her special recognition from President Hawkins during SUNY Broome's Commencement Ceremony.

Alyssa standing for her special recognition from President Hawkins during SUNY Broome’s Commencement Ceremony. Photo Credit: Sara Forbes


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