Tomas Correa is an exceptional student and a great representation of the role education plays in empowering communities. He has grown throughout his academic journey and transformed what he has learned into creating social change for those who have been marginalized. Acknowledging his role as a fierce advocate for social justice, he has begun to pursue theater as an innovative way to reach others and has demonstrated a great ability to tell powerful and relevant stories such about mass incarceration through his believable and carefully rehearsed performances during the Kennedy Center American College Theater. Tomas has also been an active member of the Strive for Success peer mentoring program. He has made significant contributions to the school community by assisting students with overcoming academic barriers by connecting them to on-campus resources and by motivating students to succeed. He listens intently to students in the office, offers a great deal of empathy, and serves to inspire students to continue to succeed in their academic and personal endeavors. He has also been an active member and contributor to the Bronx Corridors to College work group with faculty and staff members, to increase support and a pathway for justice-involved individuals to get to college.
Life's experiences made me a fierce advocate for social justice. Being born and raised in an area where gang culture is prevalent and there is a lack of the proper financial and educational recourses, many young people become justice involved. In a country that is predicated on punishment, which suppresses the issue rather than remedy it, I am determined to make a difference through education.
Today I use my experiences to create change in the lives of those who suffer from the same plight and bring awareness to those seeking effective methods to bring about this change. I have spoken on panels to professors from College Now and visited Brookwood Secure Center (Juvenile Facility) addressing topics that range from bridging the gap between professors and students to transcending barriers that hinder growth and development.
In addition, I engage with at-risk youth through community-based organizations such as Harlem Justice Corps. On campus, I work as a peer mentor for College Initiative assisting first-year students who had criminal justice involvement acquire all necessary tools to succeed in their college endeavors. Theater has been my newest outlet, which I found to be a powerful tool to convey messages to a broad range of audiences.