9/1/2014 7:12:59 AM

HEOP Excellence Award

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

By Mike Clemens '15

As Layvon Washington ’14 prepares to graduate and begin life beyond Siena College, he knows that the generosity of a Siena faculty member and his family has put him one step closer to achieving his dreams.

Washington, a political science major and student in Siena’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), is the inaugural recipient of the HEOP Excellence Award. This $5000 award was established by Doug Lonnstrom '66 Ph.D., professor of quantitative business analysis, and his wife, Cris to help a HEOP student get started after graduation.

“Cris and I wanted to help a student move onto the next phase of his or her life,” said Lonnstrom. “With the establishment of this award, we will be helping someone who we know is is going to be successful, but just doesn’t have the resources to take that next step.”

The HEOP Excellence Award was established after recognizing that many students in the program, although high achieving, do not always have the financial resources to pursue the many opportunities that are available to them after Siena.

“Very often, my students cannot accept offers for graduate school or employment that are outside of their hometowns, simply because those offers are not financially plausible for them,” said HEOP Director Carol Sandoval. “This award will make those things possible for a very deserving, graduating senior.”

The new award is intended to provide a financial cushion for students to put towards living expenses, transportation or to buy professional clothing. Washington is honored to be the first recipient.

“I’m very grateful to the Lonnstroms for establishing this award. It is going to help me begin to achieve my goals in life. That’s a great feeling to have,” said Washington. “It really shows how much Siena faculty care about their students, and that they want to help students even beyond the classroom.”

After graduation, Washington will move to Washington D.C. where he has accepted a position with City Year. As part of this program, he will spend at least the next year teaching in urban school districts in the nation’s capital.

“Layvon is an absolutely outstanding student,” said Doug Lonnstrom. "He’s a great young man and we are happy to help him get started with this opportunity he has in Washington D.C.”

A native of Syracuse, New York, Washington said that his childhood has inspired him to pursue a life of public service.

“I went to one of the lowest income elementary schools in the city of Syracuse,” Washington said. “The position with City Year is a great opportunity for me to help other kids and to give back in some way.”

Washington’s involvement at Siena is certainly an indicator of his future success. He has been a mentor for fellow HEOP students, a member of Siena’s Black and Latino Student Union and Political Science Society and has completed the Washington Semester. Ultimately Washington aspires to a career as a public policy advocate for issues such as education.

“Layvon is an exceptional student with clear, set goals,” said Cris Lonnstrom. “He brought a history of life’s lessons with him to Siena and now he wants to continue to help others in less fortunate situations, and to create policy for a better world. You just don’t find students much better than that.”

 Photo (Left to Right) HEOP Director Carol Sandoval, Layvon Washington '14, Doug Lonnstrom '66., Ph.D., Cris Lonnstrom and Siena College President Fr. Kevin Mullen '75, O.F.M., Ph.D. celebrate the creation of the HEOP Excellence Award

 


Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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