A life once limited is now filled with opportunity and dreams for Dahmili (“Molly”) Pierre Browne ’20.
The SUNY Morrisville criminal justice graduate spent most of her childhood moving in and out of motels and living in shelters in a crime-ridden part of Bronx, New York, where sirens saturate neighborhoods and a quarter of all students drop out of high school.
So much changed for Browne when the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) offered her the chance to go to college.
“EOP changed my life,” said Browne of the program that gives New York State’s disadvantaged students from underserved communities an opportunity to get a college education and go on to greater accomplishments.
Browne shares her story to inspire others, using her own journey as a beacon.
Going to college was Browne’s first step toward her lifelong ambition to help others.
“I wanted to go to college so my mother and I could live comfortably someday and so I could help others,” she said.
Earning her bachelor’s degree got her a step closer toward her goal of becoming a juvenile counselor, probation officer or serving in a role that helps at-risk teens.
“My dream is to become a juvenile counselor in Georgia and eventually open my own facilities around the world to help teens,” Browne said. “I have an empathy for at-risk teens. Teens need a support system and it’s very crucial for that age.”
EOP was that pillar for Browne.
“They helped me with money for books, counseling me with home, school and homework problems,” she said. “They were always there for me no matter what the situation.”
In addition to counseling, financial and academic support, EOP also develops skills to build social networks and mental fortitude to succeed, according to Marquis Bennett, director of EOP & Special Programs at SUNY Morrisville.
“Students need the consistency of an office whose primary focus is their development and well-being,” Bennett said. “We want to keep giving students opportunities. Most recently, the program expanded its outreach into the medical field to get students involved in those and other pathways moving forward.”
EOP changed my life. They were always there for me no matter what the situation.
College was a place Browne could count on for support and safety. She flourished there, astounding professors with her eagerness to learn and her indelible desire to help others.
She excelled academically, earning Dean’s List kudos and being named spotlight student of the month for the EOP program.
Her achievements were further lauded by SUNY, which awarded her the Norman R. McConney, Jr., Award for Student Excellence. The award recognizes outstanding EOP students for their academic excellence and strength in overcoming significant personal obstacles throughout their lives.
None of these accolades or her career plans seemed possible just four years ago.
“I always had to worry about where I was going to lay my head,” she said. “I didn’t want to grow up and struggle, so I told myself I am going to do what I have to do and focus on my education.”
She thrived in a hands-on classroom environment, embracing every opportunity to get involved on SUNY Morrisville’s campus and learn.
“It was not just textbooks. It was hands-on using simulators,” she said of labs and classes. A favorite class, adolescent development and juvenile delinquency, sealed her career interest.
Knowledgeable professors, a lively campus atmosphere and EOP all played a role in her prosperity.
“Molly was unique in that her effort was so seamless,” Bennett said. “To the untrained eye, it looked like she wasn’t trying too hard. That’s what made her special. She wanted to make it look easy, so others wouldn’t be afraid to put in the work.”
That fortitude has defined Dahmili all of her life, according to her mother, Maries Browne.
“She has always had a strong attitude and will,” she said. “That is how I know she is capable of obtaining anything. And I always told her, once you start something, you must finish it.”
Giving up has never been part of Browne’s nature.
“When the odds seem stacked against me is when I am even more eager to overcome them,” she said.
Her diploma, a testament to that, holds much promise for the determined grad.
“I see my daughter leaving quite an impact in this world,” Maries Browne said.
“The sky’s the limit,” Browne said. “I want to open centers like the boys and girls club and group homes for homeless teens. It is a way to give thanks and to give others the opportunities I had.”
The State University of New York's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) provides access, academic support and financial aid to students who show promise for succeeding in college but who may not have otherwise been offered admission.
Available primarily to full-time, matriculated students, the program supports students throughout their college careers within the university. EOP strives to support all students in their efforts to become successful college students thereby progressing to successful professional careers.
In addition to academic and financial support, EOP provides counseling and develops skills to build social networks and mental fortitude to succeed.