HEOP and Xylene DeCoteau: A Winning Combination

June 5, 2020 Student Life

Sometimes a perfect combination comes along. For example, a New York state grant program and a dynamic student with the academic rigor to take advantage of every opportunity it provides. That is exactly the case with the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and Vaughn student Xylene DeCoteau ’20, who received her bachelor’s degree in aircraft operations in May while also taking the set of air traffic control courses offered within her degree program.

HEOP is an important part of life at Vaughn, and its mandate closely follows the College’s own: providing economically and educationally disadvantaged and underrepresented students the possibility of a college education. The primary objective of both HEOP and Vaughn is to help provide a broad range of services to students who, because of academic and economic circumstances, would otherwise be unable to attend college, yet have the potential and desire to obtain a college degree.

“Mom One” and “Mom Two”

Melissa Teixeira, executive director, and Lauren Cajade, assistant director, run Vaughn’s HEOP office. In addition to helping students understand what is available to them, Teixeira and Cajade provide academic support and personal and social counseling. They are also hands-on advisers who make sure students are getting the support they need throughout their time at Vaughn, including special tutoring or financial guidance. The HEOP office is a unique space where students feel supported. According to Cajade, “This is a special place that is really different. Everyone, not just HEOP participants, enjoy the safe, family feel we provide.” It is no surprise that Teixeira shared that students refer to her and Cajade as “Mom One” and “Mom Two.”

Xylene DeCoteau: Student, Pilot, Teacher, Inspiration

Everyone who knows or has worked with DeCoteau knows that she is truly unique. She earned a place on the President’s List in the spring and fall of 2017, 2018 and 2019. That is a hard-earned honor — a student must maintain a GPA of 3.85 or above to be included.

While DeCoteau was a student, she already earned several licenses, including her private pilot license (PPL), instrument rating (IR) and commercial pilot license (CPL) for both single and multi-engine aircraft. She has also earned her certified flight instructor airplane (CFIA) and certified flight instructor instrument (CFII) certificates and currently teaches and supports other students part-time at Vaughn.

Throughout her impressive academic career, DeCoteau remains generous with her time and spirit and is committed to giving back to the community and to Vaughn. Teixeira says, “We’re here for her. She has a great support group of friends here and a determined focus on the future. We have no doubt that she will continue to accomplish great things.”

When asked about her Vaughn experience, DeCoteau said, “Everyone here has supported my success, and I am happy and honored to have achieved so many of my goals. HEOP and hard work really made a difference. Plus, I get to fly and go to college at the same time. What can be better than that?”

HEOP Information Session

You can learn more about Vaughn’s Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) during an Information Session on Wednesday, June 17 at 1 p.m. (register here) or Monday, June 22 at 6 p.m. (register here) or visit vaughn.edu/heop/. You can also contact Melissa Teixeira () or Lauren Cajade () from our HEOP office for assistance.