The OPUS program was created by President Scott Miller as part of an initiative to help students with financial obligations graduate. The main reason students do not graduate or complete their degree is the cost. Bearing this in mind, the OPUS program was created to assist those in need. In roughly three and a half years, it has helped approximately 80 students. Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Seward said this program was “designed to assist students who are stellar Marlins meaning academically they’re in good standing, they’re involved on campus, they’re student leaders and it was created to assist those students who needed to close that financial gap after they’ve exhausted every single financial aid opportunity.”
Priority is given to freshmen and sophomore status students that meet the requirements, but the OPUS program is designed to help freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Requirements include, but are not limited to, a manageable balance with the university, a certain grade point average and a complete FAFSA. The original pilot plan was to have this program during the summer, but due to the generosity of the Landmark Foundation, the program was able to grow even more and is now offered almost every semester.
In exchange for the grant money provided, students are currently placed in a position with the facilities management department. The students have assisted with different projects such as campus beautification. They have also assisted with the upkeep of the Greer Environmental Center’s gardens and grounds. The administration hopes to extend the program to other locations around campus, including the library, the dining services center, the university store, the Coastal Market and Harbor Grill.
Students have greatly benefited from this program. Seward said, “This is a life changing program. This program has helped students … it has allowed people to graduate from here. It’s allowed people to continue their education at a private, liberal arts institution.” Junior Dazjae Johnson has benefitted from OPUS since her freshman year. Johnson said, “Without OPUS, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be in school and complete my dreams of becoming a therapist for children with cancer.” In addition to helping her achieve her career goals, Johnson also said, it has helped “established meaningful relationships with faculty.” For more information please contact Jason Seward or Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Moore.