OSWEGO - A “caring and patient” academic planning counselor for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Grace Maxon-Clarke is this year’s honoree for the SUNY Oswego President’s Award for Academic Advisement.
The award recognizes an employee who embodies the important characteristics of outstanding advisement, such as building rapport with the diverse student body, assessing needs and concerns, personalizing advisement, promoting involvement, providing solutions and helping guide students to successful futures. President Deborah F. Stanley presented the award Aug. 21 at the college’s annual Academic Affairs Retreat.
Maxon-Clarke works with nearly 100 EOP students in a state program designed to provide access to higher education for students coming from historically disadvantaged populations. This includes a summer program before they enter college and advising students throughout their years in Oswego, frequently resulting in success stories for students who would not otherwise have an opportunity.
Samira Todd, a senior dual major in psychology and creative writing and an Oswego EOP student, nominated Maxon-Clarke, noting the counselor “dedicates her efforts to not only her advisee’s academic advancements but their development into adulthood.”
“From planning my academic schedule according to my desired graduation date and degree requirements to finding potential ‘next steps’ for my post-undergrad life, she has been there to offer her support and connections to various resources on/off-campus,” Todd wrote.
Maxon-Clarke has worked for the EOP program since 2014, and has both her degrees from SUNY Oswego: a master’s in mental health counseling and bachelor’s in public justice. A professional staff member for SUNY Oswego since earning her 2011 undergraduate degree, Maxon-Clarke’s knowledge of the college, her rapport with students and her dedication to students are among the reasons nominators supported her for the award.
“She is well-respected by the students in our program, many of whom request to have her as their advisor,” said Joey Tse, the college’s EOP director. “Grace is excellent in helping her students believe in themselves. She helps her students adjust to the academic rigors of college. She assists with their personal and social adjustment associated with entering a new environment.”
Maxon-Clarke is “caring and patient, but firm” with them, ensuring “each and every student understands what they need to do in order to be a successful college student,” Tse wrote. “Grace’s greatest asset is her ability to relate, connect and effectively advise all the different types of students in the program.”
Maxon-Clarke said she embraces this opportunity, investing in not only a student’s academic progress but their lives in a holistic way. “With unconditional support, my students know that their decisions and choices are up to them as I find it is important to empower and not enable them and their decision-making process,” she said. Maxon-Clarke also serves as staff advisor for the African Student Organization and Kinks and Kurls student club, and has facilitated an EOP women’s support group.
“One of the most exciting pieces of this work is that there is always work to be done,” Maxon-Clarke said. “Recently a group of my colleagues and I pulled together to figure out what we could do to support our first-generation college students better. As a collective whole we have recognized that by improving services across campus for this student population, all students can benefit from these changes.”
While Maxon-Clarke found the nomination itself a wonderful honor, the work she does with students is the true reward. “Our students work hard and I am proud to watch them grow,” she said.