CMEA Admin Was Mentor, Advocate
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 13, 2012 02:04
Vanessa Correa left her post as assistant director of the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access last week, but her work will continue to shape the Community Scholars program and the lives of students after her departure.
Correa, who had worked at the CMEA since 2007, is now the retention adviser for the Pathway to the Baccalaureate program at Northern Virginia Community College, a position that helps students with the transition to a four-year institution.
According to CMEA Director Dennis Williams, several changes that Correa pushed for within the Community Scholars program — an initiative she ran — will take effect this summer. These include extending the pre-orientation program from four weeks to five weeks and adding a second course for credit.
Williams described Correa’s work as some of the most intensive in the CMEA office. Correa was actively involved in the admissions process for the Community Scholars Program, organized its summer session and supervised the students during their weeks on campus.
The scholars, who represent diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and include many first-generation college students, spend part of the summer before their freshman year taking classes to prepare for the upcoming semester.
“The intensity of the summer is one of the things that make the job difficult. It’s difficult to do that job at that level of intensity for a very long time,” Williams said.
Correa also worked as co-advisor to CMEA’s Peer Mentor and Patrick Healy Fellowship programs, but, to her students, her impact extended beyond the walls of the center.
“My relationship with Vanessa began more as a mother coming in, then a mentor and then someone who I looked up to,” Yasmin Serrato (SFS ’13), a Community Scholar, said.
Serrato previously worked as an assistant to Correa and served as a residential adviser for the program this past summer.
To other students, Correa provided a warm welcome that they did not find elsewhere upon arrival to the university.
“Because most of us are underprivileged students, we didn’t have that type of atmosphere to feel welcomed,” Justin Pinn (COL ’13) said.
Pinn said Correa provided support when he struggled with family, financial and academic hardships during his freshmen year.
While Correa also served as an academic adviser for students in partnership with their deans, Pinn noted that what set Correa apart from other faculty members was her ability to reach beyond the academic lives of students.
“When we get into higher education, we lose a sense of being personable. We forget that we are human,” Pinn said. “But Vanessa always takes into consideration who you are and your story.”
Correa played a similar role for her colleagues.
“Because she is so involved with her students, she has always been supportive of me in my relationships with my students,” CMEA Program Coordinator Jacqueline Mac said.
Mac recently made a video to honor Correa that included reflections from students and staff, many of whom described her as family.
“When you hear that from the students, it’s inspiring,” she said. “I want to be someone like Vanessa who students can go to and be comfortable sharing what’s going on in their lives.”
Correa said she is grateful for the support she received at the university and is inspired by the work CMEA has done.
“Georgetown students are driven and ambitious. It was a privilege for me to work with such an incredible group of young people,” she wrote in an email. “I will miss them the most.”
Williams said he would miss Correa but added he was certain she would continue to build a legacy of working with students in her new position.
“She’ll spend her life helping other people, and it doesn’t matter where she finds them, whether it’s here or NOVA.”