Orange County college counselor guides at-risk students toward success

An Orange County college counselor is making a difference in the Hudson Valley by helping at-risk students graduate.
Sharisse Smith isn't a typical college advisor. She's a success coach at SUNY Orange in Newburgh and Middletown. Her students are largely economically disadvantaged, Black, brown and all in need of extra help to succeed.
"I always tell high school students that we are an extension of their guidance counselor," says Smith. "It could simply be somebody else to talk to. Somebody to bounce ideas off of."
The 51-year-old mother of four has helped guide hundreds of students toward graduation as part of the college's Educational Opportunity Program, which offers academic, emotional and financial support to make sure at-risk students succeed.
Many are the first in their families to attend college.
The program has been used at colleges and universities statewide for decades.
Smith says she's helped hundreds of SUNY Orange students graduate and hopes to continue changing young lives in the years to come.