RANDOLPH, NJ—After graduating from Morristown High School in 2002, Keara Thomas, of Morristown, drifted between work and taking occasional college courses without a clear goal.
Her sense of direction came into focus when she walked into the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) office at County College of Morris (CCM) in 2015.
“I decided to take a chance and go back to college,” says Thomas, who is now a single mother. “I’m an example for my son and that’s always a motivation.”
For 50 years, EOF, as a state program, has provided access to higher education for underserved students.
“My experience with EOF was awesome,” says Thomas. “Everyone there is very helpful whether they are your assigned counselor or not. Any question they can’t answer, they research for you. They offer tutoring, easy access to computers and any other type of help you might need.”
As a parent balancing home, work and school, Thomas sometimes felt overwhelmed. “The EOF was, for me, a good boost in my confidence because I knew I had immediate help. There’s so many tutoring services and they kept me on track with time management skills. They alleviated the stress.”
In addition, they helped her find volunteer work that could be added to her resume, provided grants for books, and helped her research and apply for scholarships. They even allowed her 10-year-old son, Jermaine, to hang out in the office during school breaks while his mother attended classes.
“They eliminate the obstacles to getting an education,” Thomas says. She will be graduating in December and hopes to attend Rutgers University in the fall.
“My major is liberal arts on a psychology track. I’m hoping to be able to help people as a family therapist. One day, I want to have my own office,” says Thomas. “I want to take whatever obstacles people may be facing and try to make them see that there is a way. Everybody has issues but you can work them out as long as you have someone to talk to. I want to be that person.”