As a promising high school student from New York City, Ben Velazquez ’93 had his choice of colleges to attend. He had offers from a number of schools, including Syracuse University, Rochester Institute of Technology and Siena College. During his trip to Loudonville, he met Carol Sandoval, director of Siena’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), who interviewed him and toured him around campus.
“Carol sold it,” he said, adding that she’s “been instrumental in my development.”
Siena’s HEOP Program provides students, who may not be able to attend college due to educational and financial circumstances, access to a valuable college education. Eligibility is based on both academic and economic criteria. Once admitted to HEOP, students receive a variety of academic support services to enhance their success while at Siena
Velazquez, who is a director of Syndications Americas for ING Capital in New York City, has enjoyed a successful career in international finance. Recognizing the impact that Sandoval and HEOP had on him during college, Velazquez established The Maria R. Sandoval HEOP Alumni Leadership Fund this semester. It will supplement HEOP’s tutoring program and help pay HEOP students’ expenses for attending leadership conferences. The endowed fund is named for Sandoval’s mother who passed away in October.
“She would be honored, truly honored,” Sandoval said.
As chair of the Associate Board of Trustees, Velazquez returned to campus for the December Board of Trustees meeting and also visited with Sandoval.
“What better way to honor Carol than to go to the foundation of who Carol is, and it’s her mother,” Velazquez said.
Velazquez hopes that this gift to the College will motivate others to give back and increase its effect on future HEOP students.
“We had this unique opportunity to get a Siena education,” he said. “They opened the door and now it’s our turn to open doors.”
Gifts can be directed to this endowed fund by writing “Sandoval Fund” in the online giving form’s designation field.
The Sandoval Fund joins The Ann and Murry Schillinger HEOP Leadership Fund established by Shari Golub Schillinger ’86 honoring her parents-in-law in supporting student leadership development.