DEGREE: B.A. in public policy and law, with a concentration in policy analysis
JOB TITLE: Director of reaching back services, Hartford Promise
FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: I can’t separate one moment. I look back with pride on the day-to-day connections I made while at Trinity. The laughs, the jokes, the tears, the joy, the debates . . . the connections I made will stay with me for a lifetime!
What do you do in your position? Reaching back services is essentially a community engagement position. Hartford Promise is a nonprofit organization centered on providing scholarship opportunities to students from Hartford. Through the “reaching back” programming, I work with Hartford Public School students, counselors, administrators, and teachers to help strengthen the college-going culture in each high school and to ensure Hartford students are aware of their talents, the Hartford Promise scholarship (students can receive up to $20,000 in college scholarship), and the many college opportunities and possibilities available to them. (There’s another Trinity alum on our Board of Directors: Walter Harrison ’68, H’18!)
Previously, I was a director of college and career readiness at Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford and a private college consultant who has helped students in the inner city receive more than $73 million in scholarships and grants. These students attended schools including Trinity College, Stanford University, Dartmouth University, the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, Wesleyan University, Colby College, Howard University, and many more. I was profiled by NBC Connecticut for helping students in the Class of 2022 receive $27 million in scholarships and grants. I couldn’t have done that on my own; that was a collective effort by the community.
What led you to work in education? I was drawn to working in education after doing a mentoring program at M.D. Fox elementary and studying the systemic educational inequalities in Connecticut while an undergraduate at Trinity. As a 12-year-old at Hartford Magnet Middle School (now Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy), I remember visiting Trinity. However, I did not think I could attend a school like Trinity College. I internalized from an early age that certain elite institutions were out of my reach. There was a fear that my status as a first-generation student raised by a single parent would limit what I could do. Access to support helped me realize the fluidity of my existence. I got into education to provide support and hope to other students in vulnerable positions. My path in education initially started out as a social justice teacher where I created social justice curriculum.
What does it mean to you to work in Hartford? Hartford is home to me; I am a product of the Hartford school system. I understand the systemic inequalities that exist within the Hartford community. I’m privileged to be able to utilize the skills I’ve built at Trinity and give back to my community. It’s always been a goal to help build up my community. I’m honestly grateful and feel really lucky to be doing this work.
What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy connecting with and inspiring students who come from similar backgrounds. As a former first-generation college student, I understood the difficulties that came with trying to achieve things beyond my immediate environment. So much self-doubt and anxiety can creep into the mind when you venture into uncharted territory. Being able to support [members of] the next generation to find their path is beautiful. The best part of the job is helping people become alive to the fluidity of their existence!
What are the biggest challenges you face? The greatest challenge is understanding the limitations that come with community work. An array of issues plague the city of Hartford, so even if you’re working with students to help with college access, other impediments—such as food insecurity, crime, poverty, mental health, etc.—present problems. The students I’m working with are battling so many other issues. However, my capacity to help is limited. That’s why community cohesion is so important. We need collaborative community efforts to pool resources that will allow Hartford to flourish.
What was the most memorable course you took at Trinity? The American studies course “Viewing The Wire through a Critical Lens” with Nicholas Conway was my favorite class. Using the TV show The Wire as a vehicle to examine our postmodern society redefined what education could look like for me.
Was there a professor at Trinity who was particularly influential? Not just professors but also staff members . . . there were so many! They all poured into me and gave me a platform to explore and find myself. There were professors such as Adrienne Fulco, Nicholas Conway, and Davarian Baldwin. Also, staff members including Pejay Lucky, Alicia McKenzie, Carol Correa de Best, Romulus Perez, Karla Spurlock Evans, and Christopher Card helped make Trinity feel like a home.