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Office location

3100 Main Street, Suite 100
Kansas City, Missouri 64111
Phone - 816.604.4400
Fax - 816.759.4416

Office hours

Monday - Friday
8:00 - 4:30

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A 100% federally funded program by the US Department of Education ($441,508) administered by Metropolitan Community College

Congratulations to all of our graduates! EOC participants, please share your success stories with us.

Jill Street

Jill Street

It was on June 24, 1992, that I fell asleep while driving home and didn't have my seat belt on. I broke my back and was left as a paraplegic. I stayed in a coma for 33 days. I was hooked up to the ventilator, had a tracheotomy, had chest tubes on both sides, had a broken scapula, and a total of 13 IVs. I stayed at Research Medical Center for a period of eight weeks. During that time, I actually died (flat-lined) twice. From Research, I was referred to the Rehabilitation Institute for occupational and physical therapy. The day after I got out of Intensive Care Unit my husband told me he wanted a divorce because I couldn't walk.

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In spite of what I went through, it made me a stronger person. I moved back in with my parents. I had the best of both worlds. My dad pushed me hard to work through my injuries, and my mother was always there for me. Both my parents were supportive. I have had a number of health issues requiring 32 surgeries in 13 years, pressure sores, and kidney and bladder problems.

In 2002, I decided to go back to school. The Rehabilitation Institute referred me to Vocational Rehabilitation where I have been working with Clarence Wiedel who has been a great inspiration and motivator. He referred me to Jan Rosenblum at the Educational Opportunity Center, who has assisted me in completing the financial aid process since 2002. From there, I was referred to Connie Spies at the Access Office at Penn Valley. She has been great to work with and is a one-of-a-kind person. I appreciate the support of the Access Office.

I am currently attending Penn Valley. I have been active in the Student Ambassadors club and received the gold medal from them. I am a member of Phi Theta Kappa, currently on the Dean's list, and was elected for District Student Representative. I plan to graduate in December 2008. I will attend the University of Central Missouri 2+2 program for my bachelor's degree and to complete my master's degree in social work.

For 10 years, I did speaking engagements to K-12 students about safety prevention. The program is call Think First and is supported by the Highway Patrol. Once a month Youth Traffic Offenders visit the Emergency Room, morgue, intensive care unit and other divisions in the hospital to help them realize that there is not always death involved in an accident and you don't always walk away. It is considered a seven hour clinical journey.

Sports are a big part of my life. I have fenced in competition, and hope to continue after my schooling. I have also played softball, basketball (for a fund raiser), and do my own physical therapy including swimming.

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Ardith "Sunshine" Smith

Ardith Smith

The story you are about to read is true. I am a former state and federal offender who spent over eight years incarcerated. In April 1999 I was in an accident that left me confined to a wheelchair with a broken right hip, broken right wrist and right forearm, and contusions to my chest. At the time of the accident I was hustling for an income by dealing a little marijuana, cleaning out inner city crack houses for investors, and an assortment of other low paying jobs. With the loss of income and no benefits, my prospects were None. It is hard to hustle from a wheelchair.

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Due to the fact that I was on Medicaid, and the broken bones were not a permanent condition, the State of Missouri only allowed for a manual wheelchair and no help building a ramp to get in and out of my house. I had a 120 lb. Rottweiler who would pull my wheelchair up to the grocery store (four blocks away) and back. I also trained him to help me if I fell or needed to take out trash and do household chores. My friends came to build me a ramp so that I could leave my house.

I was referred to the Rehabilitation Institute on 31st and Main for assistance. They provided me with testing to prove that I could go to college instead of other low paying jobs for wheelchair persons. My test scores were high so they referred me to the Missouri Vocational Rehab program and to the Educational Opportunity Center. Jan Rosenblum was my contact counselor at EOC and provided me assistance filing for financial aid to go to Penn Valley Community College. He also recommended that I utilize the Access Office at PVCC. There I found Connie Spies who was instrumental in providing the adaptive tools necessary to earn an Associate of Arts Degree in Criminology/Criminal Justice in 2003.

I went on to the University of Missouri,Kansas City where I earned a B.A. in Criminology/ Criminal Justice in December of 2005. I am currently in the master's program at UMKC and upon completion of my master's degree I plan to apply for a Ph.D. through the University of Missouri, St. Louis. My goal is to interview the women on Death Row in America. Also, I am currently 55 years old, so age is really just a number.

Currently I do free resource counseling to former inmates, low income residents, or other persons who I can help with daily living. I believe that education is a tool to help former and current offenders have a quality of life. I have mentored over 30 individuals to attend college. Had it not been for the help I received from the EOC I probably would be doing a life sentence.

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Maurice Powell II

Maurice Powell

Maurice Powell II was the third family member to utilize the services of EOC. A fourth sibling will be entering college in the Fall of 2005. Maurice's first official contact with EOC was during his junior year in high school. At that time, he was interested in attending several institutions but his preference was to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU).

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His responsibilities in order to be admitted into a university and the financial aid process were discussed with him. These responsibilities included him preparing his academic resume, submitting his admission applications on a timely basis and periodically following up with his EOC counselor. Upon reviewing Maurice's academic resume, it was evident that he had an outstanding history of academic achievement, extra-curricular activities and community service involvement. These accomplishments meant he would be very attractive to the colleges of his choice.

According to his mother, "Having to coordinate two other children attending college, the moral support and guidance of the EOC Counselor has been terrific and I am not sure how the family could have been able to put it together. If it was not for Mr. Smith, it would not have been possible to get the finances for my children to attend college. Starting early and staying on task was critical. I already have Mr. Smith working with Maurice's younger brother".

Because of the perseverance of Maurice and his parents, he received a total of $27,213 in Federal grants, outside and institutional scholarships which allows him to attend Morehouse College. According to the EOC Counselor, Robert Smith, "it has given me great pleasure in working with the Powell family. In each instance, the student has been committed to getting their education and the parents have been completely involved in the process...This no doubt has made the opportunities for success easier."

Maurice graduated from Morehouse College in 2008 with a Bachelor's degree in English. He is now attending University of Pacific working toward his Master's in Business Administration.

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Fantasia Freeman

Fantasia Freeman

Fantasia Freeman has been an EOC participant since January 1997. She attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri for one semester and returned home to attend Penn Valley Community College receiving the Bloch Scholarship. While attending Penn Valley, she did two terms with the AmeriCorps Program. In 2001, she graduated from Penn Valley with her A.A. Degree in Human Service.

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In 2003, Ms. Freeman again received the Bloch Scholarship (full tuition and fees), attended the University of Missouri in Kansas City and received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. She also earned the Henry Mitchell Scholarship which allowed her to attend the University of Western Cape - South Africa. While attending this institution, she had the opportunity to work with women and children who were afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

Ms. Freeman continues to pursue her education and is working on her Master's Degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Public Administration and Non-Profit Management. She is currently employed as and Administrative Assistant/Transportation Coordinator with the Good Samaritan Project which is a HIV/AIDS service organization. With conviction in her voice, she states her long range goal is to return to Africa, manage an orphanage and work on public health policies in the treatment of HIV/Aids.

Concluding the interview, Ms. Freeman mentioned, "I don't know what I would have done if it wasn't for the services I received from EOC and Mr. Smith". This Counselor would like to add it has been an honor to work with Ms. Freeman who is willing to give of herself to make a difference and continues to be committed to assisting others less fortunate.

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Ashley Spight

Ashley Spight

In November 2002, I presented at Hogan Preparatory School on financing your education. A few weeks later Ashley Spight and her mother began utilizing the services of EOC. Ashley indicated an interest in attending several colleges but was locked in to one specific school. She was reminded to keep all options open as it related to the financial aspects. During the next several months, Ashley Spight and her mother were in constant telephone and office contact with EOC making sure timetables were met in order for her to get into college. Counseling sessions centered around: fine tuning the academic resume; making sure college/scholarship applications were being submitted on a timely basis; preparing questions for campus visits; notifying the EOC Counselor of significant occurrences; completing the FAFSA; preparing letters regarding special circumstances; reviewing and interpreting financial aid award letters.

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Although Ashley's first choice of school was highly recruiting her, they were not willing to commit financially toward her education. EOC provided additional assistance in sorting out other options. Ms. Spight reports her daughter attending college fairs allowed her the option of identifying other schools. Ashley told her mother she is very satisfied with the school she chose. She is close to home and at the same time has some independence.

According to Ms. Spight, the process of getting her daughter into college "involved getting support from EOC, the Pre-Collegiate program offered at Penn Valley Community Center, friends, relatives, her church, and community agencies. Getting organized, observing deadlines, networking with other parents on finding funding for education was also crucial. Persistence, persistence, persistence is necessary". Ms. Spight concluded by saying "of most importance is to thank those that have supported our efforts".

In addition to the above, it was stressed that Ashley should apply for as many scholarships as possible. Coupled with Federal Grants, work-study, the Central Missouri State's Student Support Grant and various scholarships, Ashley has needed only a partial subsidized Stafford Loan to complete her first year in college. Ms. Spight's advice for parents is, "if your child is not a star athlete or a scholar does not mean he or she cannot get scholarships".

"I didn't get the opportunity to start college at an early age. I'm having the opportunity to live my life though. It's good being a student's mother. I have had the chance to meet some of her college classmates and I am looking forward to having them come to my home". Ashley has become involved in a community service organization while attending Central Missouri State University, and as time goes by, plans to get involved in a few others. Now that Ashley is in college and things have settled down, Ms. Spight will resume her college education.

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Dominque Mitchell

Dominque Mitchel

Success can be measured in a number of ways. I have received a lot of assistance to get where I am today. When I was in high school I was not an ordinary student but a very self-sufficient student who had to assume the role of an adult. I am not where I am today solely because of what I’ve done, but also because of the assistance that I’ve obtained along the way. During my high school years I worked full time, paid bills and went to school. Misty Chandler and Karen Goose, who were at the time, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) recruiters that came to North Kansas City High School (NKCHS) and made me their “pet project”. These ladies extended their hands and hearts to make sure I furthered my education. MCC and NKCHS counselors and teachers motivated me to learn about scholarships that were available not only through my high school but also through MCC. Through their sincere efforts, advice, encouragement and mentoring I was able to gain valuable information that reassured me that a college education and my goals were indeed within my reach.

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Before the end of my senior year, I earned a Leadership Grant through MCC. This grant was awarded to students who were not eligible to receive federal financial aid. Another requirement was to show leadership. I participated in numerous activities including debate, DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America), basketball and community service. As time went on, the Full Employment Council (FEC) helped me to find a job and purchase books for college. I began working with Jennifer Walk at the Educational Opportunity Center a year after I graduated high school. She assists me each year with completing my Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and referred me to the Kansas City, Missouri Opportunity Scholarship Fund from The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. I was awarded the renewable scholarship which assists me with books, supplies, and tuition.

Though my educational journey has been a non-traditional one, I was able to overcome many obstacles and eventually complete an Associate’s degree through MCC. I am currently pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and Business. I plan to go on to receive my Master’s and PHD degrees in the future. Overall, success, in my opinion, is measured by the lessons you’ve learned in life.

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Dzevad Tahirovic

Dzevad Tahirovicl

I am originally from Bosnia. Due to the war in my country I fled the country in 1991. I first went to Germany. My family followed; my parents and my sisters. I come from a very close-knit family. In 1993, I went from Germany to the Netherlands. I studied in Bosnia as a construction technician. I also worked in the Netherlands.

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I wanted to move to the United States. In 2001, I left the Netherlands and moved to Kansas City, Mo. My family followed. I am married with two children ages 10 and 8 years old. Due to my multiple relocations, I am able to speak five languages.

I knew that I wanted to go to college when I came to the United States. I wanted to study engineering. Someone told me about a place in Kansas City where they could assist you with your financial aid. The name of the agency was the Educational Opportunity Center. I first met Mr. Jan Rosenblum in May of 2002. I decided I would attend Maple Woods Community College first and get my Associate’s degree. Both my sister and I came in to meet with Mr. Rosenblum. We found him to be very helpful and knowledgeable about financial aid.

While I was attending school, I was also working full time. Mr. Rosenblum was a good motivator and encouraged me that I could do it. I finished my Associate’s degree at Maple Woods. From 2006-2008, I stopped attending so I could help with my immediate family, including my parents.

I decided to attend UMKC in 2008 for civil engineering. I will be completing my Bachelor of Science Degree in December 2012. I want to thank Mr. Rosenblum for his support and encouragement in helping me. I also want to thank my family for their support. I look forward to my future.

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Jan Rosenblum

I first met Monica Jimenez when she was attending Alta Vista High School. Monica graduated from MCC-Penn Valley Community College and transferred to the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). Monica received the Bloch Scholarship to help with her attendance at UMKC.

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I am proud to say that Monica will be graduating from UMKC May 2020. I am proud of Monica and all of her accomplishments.

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Jaime Alabi

In the spring of 2017, Frederick Martin came to the EOC after hearing about us through the Second Chance program. Mr. Martin had spent several years of personal development, studying law on his own. He was self-taught, even learning to utilize the intricate West Key Number Classification System for legal research.

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When I first met Mr. Martin, he had already written a book, entitled After Conviction, What you can do before a lawyer is appointed, and he was determined to go to school to become a paralegal. He knew so much of the material already, but recognized that a degree in the field would open the doors of opportunity. Starting this endeavor had its share of difficulties. While Mr. Martin and I explored funding options, roadblocks seemed to come up around every corner. After a number of letdowns, it appeared we had found a viable way forward. He interviewed with a program for grant funding and received the initial approval, but shortly thereafter, he was informed he did not fall within the age range for program eligibility. However, with tenacity and grace, he continued to push forward, pursuing every suggestion through our office, while also seeking out additional options on his own.

When encouraged to apply for a scholarship with KC Scholars, Mr. Martin jumped at the opportunity, preparing essays, seeking letters of recommendation and obtaining the required financial documents and academic transcripts. The day he was awarded, he called to share the good news and excitement about embarking on this next step of his journey! That was over 1 year ago-- Since that time, Mr. Martin started the paralegal program at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley. He has made the Dean’s List twice for exemplary grades and continues to excel in the program, well on his way to seeing his dream of becoming a paralegal come to fruition. In addition to being a featured speaker at the EOC’s 40th anniversary this year, he recently won a grant through the Rise Up, Get Started entrepreneurship competition by Determination, Inc. This grant provides an investment to further his business venture, IFAA Legal Services, Inc. After only a short conversation with Mr. Martin, one can see the passion he has for assisting people in need with their legal concerns.

It has been my pleasure to walk alongside Mr. Martin during this chapter of his life. It is an honor and a privilege to be involved in the lives of our students as they progress towards their desired careers and envision the positive change they will have on the world. Not only does Mr. Martin have the aptitude, he truly has the attitude and perseverance that will assist him in successfully reaching his goals. I look forward to our continued work together.

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Emanuel Burnette

The Educational Opportunity Center and their staff has helped me very much. They have helped me apply for my FAFSA every year. Today, I am a business major, a Bloch Scholar and I have completed four semesters at Penn Valley. When I first started coming to the EOC, I was a high school dropout with student loans that prevented me from enrolling in school.

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The advisors at the EOC helped me through the process of rehabilitating and managing my student loans and they also helped me write an essay to apply for the Bloch Scholarship, which will pay for me to get my bachelor’s degree at UMKC after I finish my associate’s degree at Penn Valley. I look forward to continuing to work with the EOC staff.

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Courtney Kellogg

My name is Courtney Kellogg, I am from the Kansas City area and I am deaf. I received a cochlear implant when I was a freshman in high school but have always been “mainstreamed” in all my academic experiences. I graduated from Oak Park High School in 2010 with the Gold Medallion diploma, which is the highest offered diploma at Oak Park and the second in the NKC School District. Along with my academic success I was a three-sport varsity athlete. I played golf, basketball, and soccer my freshman, sophomore, and Junior year and only basketball and soccer my senior year. I have received the Presidential Service award for volunteering over 100 hours two different years. After graduating from high school, I went to Truman State University for my freshman year and then transferred to Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. At RIT I graduated cum laude in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences. Currently, I am at RIT getting my masters in Biochemistry and expected to graduate in May of 2016.

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While at RIT, I studied abroad in Croatia with nine other biomedical students to learn and experience the difference of the health care systems in the United States and other countries. I was the Secretary of the Health Science and Technology Students Association. I also met many other individuals that are deaf and hard of hearing, learned sign language, and became emerged in the deaf community.

Today, we are seeing a rise in the success of individuals with disabilities. However, when I was in the mainstreamed environment, the schools did not believe I could succeed the way I did. With the aid of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Education Opportunity Center, I was able to go above and beyond the limitations others placed on me with the pre-conceived expectations of a person with a disability. I am excited about my future and I hope that my successes will encourage others with disabilities to recognize what they can achieve. I also hope that my achievements will encourage the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Educational Opportunity Center to help others with disabilities to succeed to their fullest potential as they did with me.

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Levertes Ragland

Ragland graduated as one of the top ten seniors at Paseo Academy in 2003. Since then, he has endeavored to keep staying near the top. "EOC has been a reliable and trusted resource in my financial aid advisement and preparation." A recipient of many major scholarships, Ragland has been able to obtain a bachelor’s and master's degree and there is still no stopping his pursuit of excellence.

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In his current goal of being a credentialed librarian with a focus in government, he has still been able to count on EOC for assistance with no delay. "I am elated to still be able to contact Jennifer and the EOC team for educational support matters and to catch up on things with how I'm doing," he said. "Whether you stay near the city or venture out like I did, I highly recommend students to use EOC as a valuable resource to stay connected to. EOC is always here to help, having the utmost sincerity and enthusiasm. This has kept them as a primary educational support team that I am not reluctant to approach when I need to, while knowing I'll get the support I'm looking for."

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Last Modified: 1/10/20