Senior PEL Major Recognized with SUNY Honor for Academic Excellence, Personal Perseverance

Kalief Metellus standing next to the Panther statue outside the Student Union

Kalief Metellus, a SUNY Old Westbury senior majoring in Politics, Economics and Law, has received the Norman R. McConney Jr. Award for Student Excellence from the State University of New York. Metellus, who lives in Old Westbury, New York, was one of 45 students in SUNY Educational Opportunity Programs statewide recognized during a recent virtual award ceremony.

“Each of these students are outstanding scholars who have displayed great strength and tenacity in their pursuit of academic success, amid what is often extreme personal hardships,” said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras. “It is for them that SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Program exists, and it is at the heart of our mission to level the playing field and give every student a fair chance to succeed; Norman McConney would be very proud of each and every one of them.” 

Along with the pursuit of his undergraduate degree, Metellus is an active leader on campus, now serving his second term as president of the campus' Student Government Assocation as well as contributing to numerous campus committees and serving on the SUNY Old Westbury College Council. He also recently completed an internship with the Nassau County Office of Minority Affairs.

Named in honor of the late Norman R. McConney, Jr., the award recognizes students participating in SUNY's Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) for their academic excellence and strength in overcoming significant personal obstacles throughout their lives. McConney helped create EOP as a statewide program that has served 75,000 New Yorkers to date from underprivileged backgrounds. 

The mission of the Educational Opportunity Program at SUNY Old Westbury is to provide access, and promote and support the inclusive excellence that develops the social capital and professional preparedness for building a more just and sustainable world to students of New York State who show promise for succeeding at the College but who are financially hindered and may not have otherwise been offered admission. 

In the current academic year, SUNY had more than 10,000 EOP students on 49 SUNY campuses. EOP students often outperform their peers, with 74 percent of them graduating with a baccalaureate degree within six years.