|Hello Charter Oak State College Alum --
We're sending along another interesting profile that focuses on the endeavors and achievements of a fellow Charter Oak graduate. We hope you enjoy Trudi Lebron's story!
Trudi Lebron ‘05
Trudi Lebron might be one of the most ambitious people you meet. As a teen mother with two children by the time she was 16, she was determined to get her high school diploma. Now, 14 years later and with associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hand, she is applying to a doctorate program, and is a hard-working teen pregnancy expert, youth advocate, speaker, writer and performer whose goal is putting urban youths on a path of success.
Lebron dropped out of high school in ninth grade, but with hard work and support from her family, she passed the GED when she was 17 and enrolled in college. After taking courses at Capital Community College in Hartford, CT, she started her degree program at Charter Oak, and was admitted to Charter Oak’s Women in Transition (WIT) program, which provides working mothers with financial, academic and technological support to complete their education. She was also a student worker at Charter Oak. She earned her associate degree in 2002, and her bachelor’s degree with a concentration in Theater Arts in 2005.
“If (my family) knew anything about me, it was that I was tough and determined,” said the mother of three boys. “If I said I was going to succeed, I would.”
Her current career focus is a reflection of her lifelong interest in social justice. She said she inherits that from her parents, who placed a high importance on fairness, right and wrong, equality and discrimination awareness.
Lebron, who went on to earn her master’s degree in Psychology from Walden University, now works full-time for a large non-profit human service organization as a community school director for elementary and middle schools in Hartford, CT. But that’s just the beginning: she co-chairs the Commission on Cultural Affairs for the City of Hartford, is a diversity trainer for the Anti-Defamation League of CT, and sits on a workgroup for Opportunities Hartford, a comprehensive city-wide effort to identify, enhance and expand Hartford’s most promising education, jobs and income opportunities for residents.
She also mentors several teen parents, speaks to students about her experiences as a teen mom and youth development professional, and trains professionals who work with high-risk youth. Additionally, this year she plans to apply to the Social Justice Education doctorate program at the University of Massachusetts, and would like to find an adjunct teaching position at a community college or local or online university to teach psychology or human services.
One more thing: she is currently in the start-up phase of the Young Families Project, with the goal of engaging people in conversations about young parenthood and to shed new light on the issue of teen pregnancy and the challenges young parents face. She is exploring ways to pursue this project full-time.
“I want people to think critically about the prevalence of teen pregnancy and how it’s impacted by things like poor quality education, poverty, welfare policy, domestic violence, self-esteem, etc.,” she said. “The solution to reducing teen pregnancy can’t be found in reproductive health education only, which is how we attempt to deal with it today.”
Lebron believes the biggest issue facing urban youth is lack of access to information, quality education, positive experiences, caring adults, and opportunities. These factors impact young people profoundly, she said, including their risk to end up on negative life trajectories that include teen pregnancy, drugs, violence and more.
“So many things need to happen in order to address this, some of them easier than others,” Lebron said. “I think professionals who work with youth need to he held to higher standards…I see so many youths in situations with professionals that are just unacceptable. We need to create ways for youth to have more positive interactions with adults in an attempt to counter some of the negative messaging they receive from home, media and their neighborhoods.”
Lebron credits her degree from Charter Oak, along with the support she received from the WIT program, with giving her the confidence to succeed. She said she learned that as long as she put forth the time and effort, she could accomplish anything.
“My degrees open up doors for me professionally, but my education and educational experience with Charter Oak gives me the confidence to walk through those doors and be successful,” she said.
To learn more about Trudi Lebron, or to contact her, visit www.trudilebron.com.
(NOTE: If you are interested in sharing your success story with us, please contact Amanda Guay at the College. She can be reached via e-mail: email@example.com. We'd love to hear from you!)
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