A Shining Star: Belissa Laureano

Meet Belissa. Two years ago, she was a student at a troubled high school whose prospects of ever graduating from high school were looking slimmer and slimmer.

Belissa struggled to meet academic requirements and failed the Regents exams multiple times. When she approached her guidance counselor and other school staff about getting tutoring, she found them to be unhelpful and aloof. Soon, she left the school.

However, Belissa had not given up hope. She searched for a school that could help her. That’s when she found Alfred E. Smith Young Adult Borough Center (YABC). When she visited, she found the staff at Smith YABC were warm, listened to her, and genuinely wanted to see her graduate. They were quick to set her up with one on one tutoring and gave her the confidence she needed to pass her exams. She was back in the game!

While studying for her examinations, staff exposed her to new ideas and made her believe that she could graduate. They placed her in internships where she could earn money while gaining skills and experience. They also brought her on field trips to college campuses, encouraging her to begin considering her future.

When thinking back about her experience:

I’d really lost hope…I thought I was going to be in high school forever,” Belissa recalls. “I knew as soon as I met the East Side House staff, they were going to help me pass these exams to graduate. They gave me faith and made me believe in myself a lot more than I used to,” crediting her College Advisor at Smith YABC.

Belissa graduated this past June and is now enrolled as a freshman at Hostos Community College. We wish Belissa, and the hundreds East Side House graduates like her, the best of luck!

Watch her interview on Bronxnet here: