Chynna Marcucci

It’s hard to imagine anyone appreciating a college degree more than Chynna Marcucci.

One of eight children, no one else in her family had ever gone to college. Plus, coming up with the money to pay for college would be like trying to fly to the moon. 

But then, Sage has the Higher Education Opportunity Program. It’s designed to provide educational opportunities to students who would otherwise not have the chance to attend college.

For Chynna, HEOP was a game changer.

For HEOP, Chynna was just the kind of student the program’s designed to assist: “Our goal is to retain and graduate promising students who will succeed at Sage and beyond.”

Well, Chynna certainly has succeeded. After earning her bachelor’s in Law & Society, she got her master’s at Sage in Professional School Counseling. Today, she’s a counselor at the Bethlehem Central Middle School, where she’s been named  “Educator of the Year,” an honor given to someone who’s made a significant impact on the lives of LGBTQ students.

“Going to Sage felt like a gift,” Chynna says. “And once I got there I had people who believed in me. So I knew I had to make the most of this opportunity. I knew I had to succeed. And when I did, I had people there cheering me on.”

The whole experience amazed her.

“Actually, it all seemed surreal,” she says. “I’d say to myself, Wow, I’m in college!”

But again, what she also remembers is the determination she felt to live up to the chance she’d been given. 

“There were expectations that Sage had,” she says. “There was also the feeling that: We’ve got your back. So I said to myself, I can do this. I needed to work hard, but that’s what I did.” 

“It’s not just the accountability,” Chynna explains further. “It’s the personal connection you feel at Sage. They really care about you. My professors have kept in touch. I still love hearing from them.”