The Percy E. Sutton SEEK program is celebrating its 50th year since establishment in 1966. It began in gratitude to early social activists, as well as other venerable individuals, who envisioned higher education for underprivileged students.
“The mission of SEEK is to provide equality of access to quality public higher education to students who otherwise would not have the finances and may not fully fulfill the college academic admission requirements.” Norka Blackman-Richards, Acting Director and Academic Program Manager, said. “In doing so, SEEK increases not only the level of education, and social capital, of at-risk communities but contributes to the professional workforce of New York and the nation.”
Samia Afrin, a lower junior majoring in Biology Education, said, “Great is not a sufficient word to describe this program.” Afrin appreciates this program because it gave her a second chance to complete her education. “I think SEEK students, generally, are from low income families and students who don’t have attractive grades from high school. I’m from a low-income family and this is more than a program. From one on one support to tutors. This program contributes to both my academic and personal life.”
Students begin applying to SEEK upon completion of their fourth year of high school. Once accepted into a four year CUNY institution, they are required to attend an intensive pre-college summer experience designed to help prepare them with the skills necessary to succeed in college.
Under SEEK, students are provided with personal counseling, academic advisement from admission to graduation, free tutoring, supplemental instruction and learning communities in their first three semesters, early registration and financial aid from admission to graduation, professional development, a dedicated group of academic, counseling and support professionals who support them during their time in the program.
Aung Htwe, a junior history major, emphasized how great of a program they think SEEK is.
“This is a family you go to. It’s supportive and always going to help you. It opens doors. It’s organized and they offer tutoring in a range of subjects from your basic math, English, writing, to organic chemistry. I am really grateful for this program,” Htwe said.
The SEEK higher education opportunities program is in each of the four year CUNY colleges. Its sister opportunity program, “College Discovery,” occurs in two year colleges. According to Blackman-Richards, “Students who complete an associate degree can transfers into a SEEK four year program of their choice to complete a B.A. Here they receive the same assistance as students who began in the program in their freshman year.”
Diana Lopez, a senior psychology major, expressed her personal sentiments towards the program.
“I am a single mother and going back to school was a really hard transition for me. I was in College Discovery in LaGuardia Community College and when I came to QC, I was placed in SEEK. It is so helpful from registering for classes first each semester, to having someone to talk to when I’m down, to having one on one guidance where I build a relationship with someone who will help me achieve my educational goals,” Lopez said.