BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — The success of a new college readiness program helping about 50 students at the city’s two high schools depends in part on Lynette Correa.
So far, the New Britain resident is winning rave reviews.
“She pushes you, she cares about you, she wants you to succeed and go to college,” said Shawnti Chiarappi, a Bristol Central High School junior in the new Upward Bound program.
Chiarappi said Correa “listens to your personal thoughts. If she were to be replaced, I wouldn’t like anyone else.”
In its first school year in Bristol, Upward Bound aims to help low-income students attend college. It includes tutoring, field trips, college visits and assistance in filling out applications.
Correa is the program’s tutor coordinator for students. She tracks the progress of participating teens and serves as a liaison between teachers and counselors.
Central sophomore Joshua Flores, also in the program, said Correa “is really devoted to Upward Bound. She cares.”
Correa, a New York City native, works mostly as a community organizer with Pathways/Senderos in New Britain, a teen pregnancy prevention center.
But, she said, “I saw the opportunity to get involved in the Bristol area” with the Upward Bound program.
Correa said she chose a career helping teens because it gives her “a joyous feeling.”
“I feel successful when I am able to get through to youth to see a different path in life, and that they listened,” said Correa.
“Lynette is a good person to work with very open, very welcome, she treats people like her best friend,” said Flores. “If you want to talk to her, she’ll help you. Lynette is the type of person willing to lend a helping hand.”
“I think I was put on this Earth to mentor,” said Correa with her hearty laugh.
Correa’s main job, in New Britain, aims to convince teens to focus on education rather than sex. The goal is to break the pattern of teens having children who, in turn, wind up having children too young.
She said there should be more programs to combat teen pregnancy because success would mean fewer people on welfare and more working class taxpayers.
Correa gets deeply involved in teens’ lives and families, making home visits and finding activities to keep young people busy. Some projects have included cleaning streets, wiping off graffiti and an Adopt-a-Grandparent program.
Even when she is not working, Correa is still volunteering her time and dedication to youths through volunteering. Correa is a volunteer coach for New Britain’s Church Basketball League and assists Citizens Action of New Britain in its effort to stop violence. She works with teen parents at Hartford Hospital and delivers holiday meals to the needy.
Correa said she believes in the old African proverb that “it takes a village to raise a child” and she lives it, too.
Hila Yosafi is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.