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By Ryan Lallo
CCC Journalism Program

Stephanie Portella, a sophomore on the Camden campus of Camden County College, attends school in the Equal Opportunity Fund program. She lives in Beverly, N.J. with her single mother and younger brother.

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Sophomore Stephanie Portella finishes homework before she gives a haircut. By Ryan Lallo, CCC Journalism Program

“It was very hard for me to get started in college because of my day-to-day struggle to help my mom make ends meet. I used to think it was impossible for someone like me to have the time or opportunity to attend college while juggling life’s pressures,” Portella said. She went to cosmetology school before attending Camden County College and she cuts hair on the side for money for bills and everyday expenses.

Portella finally enrolled in college and decided she would do whatever it took to make it work. That is when she started discovering different programs that help people like her to stay in college and maintain decent grades while attending to her home life. The Equal Opportunity Fund program was a perfect fit for her. “When I found out about the EOF program it was like a Godsend for me. I didn’t think there would be a program that suited my educational and financial needs so specifically.”

The EOF provides students with a variety of different things that help them progress with their academic journey. They can help find the student a job on campus, they can provide extra grants for any extra academic or living expenses and they can provide students with a couple of mandatory courses that give them extra skills.

Portella went from worrying about how she was going to manage school and her home life to thriving in both areas. “They gave me a job in the Camden City campus Barnes and Noble bookstore and that really helped to relieve pressure from those other areas in my life and allowed me to focus more on my school work. They also helped me with a grant that went to things that I would’ve had to work for and that would’ve caused me to take more time away from focusing on college. Overall the EOF program has been an immense blessing in my life and I tell a lot of my friends about it because if they knew about programs like these they might enroll in college and not be afraid of what would happen to their other daily responsibilities.”

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