|Melissa Barczak, MS
My name is Melissa Barczak and I have joined the TRiO program staff as a success advisor. I was most recently employed by SUNY Orange as a grant funded job developer for the Welfare to Work Program. I worked in the Orange Works Career Center in the Maple Building on SUNY Orange’s beautiful Newburgh campus. I was responsible for planning, coordinating, and supervising work search activities along with program compliance for employable public assistance recipients. My other responsibilities included providing mentoring and job readiness training.
Most of my work history was acquired through employment at the Olmsted Center for Sight in Buffalo, New York. I spent over ten years working with the blind population in various roles of job placement including: case worker, vocational evaluator, job coach, and employment specialist. Before relocating, I was the employment coordinator for the National Statler Center for Careers in Hospitality Service, a school of the Olmsted Center that trained those with physical and visual handicaps for careers in hospitality. Here I was involved with curriculum development, recruitment, outreach, advising and all aspects of job readiness, placement, and maintenance. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counselor education from Canisius College.
Sheldon Cousins, MSW
My name is Sheldon Cousins and I am very fortunate and excited to be a part of the TRiO Program family. Holding both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work from the CUNY system, I took my first academic position at LaGuardia Community College with the College Opportunity to Prepare for Employment (COPE Program) in the mid-90s’. While working with COPE students and staff, I realized that my calling and interest was in an academic environment, helping students navigate their college years.
Later, I moved to Florida where I worked for Miami Dade College and Barry University holding positions in academic advisement, recruitment, personal counseling, etc. After a few years in Florida, I took the opportunity to gain an international perspective, and moved to Canada, where I worked for the University of Saskatchewan in the College of Dentistry. There, I performed many duties in addition to general student affairs and advocacy roles, worked with patients on numerous issues, and was instrumental in helping to launch their “Standardized Patient Program”.
Upon returning to New York, I took a Program Associate position at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in their Urban Male Initiative program (UMI) working with students on many fronts and issues. Recently relocated to Dutchess County, I’m once again given the opportunity to use and share my experiences, and skills with especially the TRiO students as they journey through their academic program. To me, this is an “entry to exit” partnership. I believe that getting students from their initial class through to graduation is a shared responsibility that I share with students as they chart their course(s).
Thanks again and be assured that you have my full commitment and attention.
Eric Hardwick, MPS
My name is Eric Hardwick, and consider myself fortunate working for the TRIO SSS Program here at SUNY Orange. Before completing my associates in Business - Paralegal at Dutchess Community College, I discovered my passion for academia. It started when I accepted a teaching assistant position in the paralegal program and later progressed through one-on-one and group tutoring sessions.
While completing my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at SUNY New Paltz, I volunteered with Oasis/Haven, a peer hotline and walk-in center located on campus. Achieving the role of supervisor allowed me to meet with walk-ins or answer phone calls ranging from eating disorders to rape/sexual assault issues. It was Oasis/Haven I learned to support the feelings and needs of others by putting aside personal beliefs and thoughts. Oasis/Haven provided me with the opportunity to adapt and apply everything I learned.
Before finishing the master’s program at SUNY New Paltz, Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute brought me on board. I held a series of administrative positions, including teaching, but eventually was promoted to Dean of Education in 2010. The Dean position created the opportunity to work one-on-one with students to identify academic needs and prepare a plan for success. June 2013 I became the Campus Director, where campus operations, compliance, retention, and placement were all major areas of focus. I maintained this position until November 2015, whenl I accepted the TRIO Director position here at SUNY Orange. I look forward to new experiences and challenges the program and SUNY Orange will present.
My name is Caleb Mercado and I am excited to be a part of the TRIO Program staff as the admin assistant. Before joining the TRIO team, I worked with several religious non-profit organizations to help bridge the gaps between communities, churches, and local businesses. I was employed by three separate organizations over a twelve year period.
I worked with these organizations to help assess the community needs, build relationships with teens and families, and help advise the organization on how we could effectively meet said needs. Some of the things we did included creating weekly programing for the youth in the community, one on one meetings with students or families, planning large events including weekend retreats, recruiting and training volunteers, and creating a curriculum that easily aligned with the vision, mission, and goals of each organization. Working with those wonderful organizations was both challenging and rewarding, and I greatly look forward to using what I have learned to serve the TRIO Program.