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Remembering a cherished figure at SEEK

Frank Franklin, director of the SEEK program at Queens College, passed away at 71 on Feb. 7, 2016. His achievements were hailed by peers thankful for the help given to SEEK.

The SEEK program—which stands for Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge—began in 1966 to help high school students qualified for college, but unable to attend for financial or educational reasons. The program consists of workshops and programs for the benefits of entrants.

Franklin worked as a social worker for at-risk children and youth. In 1971, he joined QC and assumed several roles, including Financial Aid Counselor, SEEK Financial Aid Director and Assistant to the vice President of Graduate Studies.

In 2001, Franklin became the director of the SEEK program. During his tenure, many students and staff members were inspired by his words, including “Agitate, Agitate, Agitate.”

On Feb. 9, Richard Alvarez, vice president for Enrollment & Student Retention and June Bobb, Assistant vice president of Enrollment & Student Retention, sent a joint email to the student body on Franklin’s passing. They highlighted his achievements on and off campus.

“He was known around campus as a gentle man with a ready smile for everyone he encountered,” they wrote.

On Feb. 22, SEEK came together at the Benjamin Rosenthal Library to honor Franklin’s life. This included a video of SEEK staff and students showing appreciations for his 45 years of service.

Ashraf Shahriar, a coordinator at the Writing Center, felt inspired by Franklin’s attitude, especially in tough situations.

“He taught me the importance of patience and knowing how to keep your cool when there’s a tremendous weight of responsibility on you, and how to manage so many people, but still do it with a smile,” Shahriar said.

No matter the challenges in SEEK offices, members could not believe Franklin’s ability to smile often.

“He’s not human, there’s no way he can smile that much,” Michael Robinson, a computer lab specialist, said.

In 2007, the United Negro College Fund honored Franklin with the “Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award.” The award is given for fundraising and participation efforts, and other recipients include former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

At the celebration, Political Science Professor Omayemi Agbeyegbe read the last letter Franklin wrote for the SEEK program.

“All through my time as Director of SEEK, I have never doubted for one moment the final triumph of the sacred cause to which you all, my comrades in the struggle, and I have devoted all our talents, indeed our lives: the right to educational opportunity, to an honorable life, to unstained dignity and the enlightenment of the mind that brooks no restrictions” Franklin wrote.

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