Women We Love: Desiree Polonia
''Self-confidence is the best revenge. Anything is possible, they can do anything if they put their mind to it. ''
- Desiree P.
She describes herself as a fun-loving woman who loves to be around people and help others. This month for Women We Love, we have Desiree Polonia. She was chosen for her recognition as an independent hard working woman, a great counselor for the youth and for being a proud Latina in today's world. Desiree is the oldest out of 3 kids and grew up on 207th street in the Upper Manhattan area. Everyone knew each other, as it was a predominating Dominican neighborhood. She attended Good Shepherd school from K-8th grade and for High School, she attended Norman Thomas. After high school, she attended CUNY John Jay College where she received her bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science and got two Master’s degrees from Pace University and Alfred University.
Desiree parents were both born and raised in the Dominican Republic. It wasn’t until the 1970’s when they decided to migrate to the United States for a better future. She remembers growing up and many people didn't know how to speak Spanish, making it very hard for her mother to express what she needed. As she would translate for her mother all the time. Now working in a school as a counselor for the youth, Desiree Polonia is a proud Latina who works with a bilingual population. She is currently studying for her license in Mental Health and would love to volunteer as a mentor for young girls. Eventually, in 5 years she sees herself working in a Latin community as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor helping families and kids suffering from mental health. Being that there isn’t enough mental health support in our community. As mentioned before on our blog, this is an illness that needs more awareness.
She is known for her professionalism and educating our youth in today’s generation with advising them on the right path when it comes to college and life decisions. Desiree did some volunteer work in her life such as the AIDS Walk, Prom Dress shopping, and play therapy with young kids ages 5-9, at a Foster Care Agency. She recently started the process of being a mentor at Latino Big Brother Big Sister program. Also, just recently hosted an event called College Awareness Day. Where she asked some of her professional close friends and family members to come speak to the Junior High School students about college and career path. As she is preparing them for high school, college choices, and where they see themselves in the future. She fell in love with teaching and helping others when she started working part-time at John Jay as an Adjunct Science professor. She loves to communicate and felt that with science most of the time she was working alone and not able to speak with anyone all day. After 5 years, she realized that’s not her personality to be alone or introverted. When Desiree began to teach at John Jay, it opened the love of teaching and the love of helping students. She really knew in her heart that she was meant to be a teacher and a supporter. As much as she loved Forensics, it didn't fulfill her the way teaching did. She wakes up every day knowing teaching is what she wants to do and where she wants to be.
She had worked with adolescents from ages 14-24 for the past 7 years and just recently started working with kids from the age group 10 to 14-year-old in the East Harlem section of Manhattan. Now, she has more of an overall experience working with youths from different age range. One of the cons of being a counselor is seeing these kids suffer from a different type of abuse and having no parental support, no type of guidance or support once they leave her office/school. Making her feel that all her concerns about her students will undo once the students get home. Her best advice for kids, in general, is to visual their goals and dreams. She wants her students to love themselves more and stop comparing themselves to others. She wants them to continue looking adversity in the face and say, “I got this”, “I’m not going to give up because you said “NO” or “not good enough”. Self-confidence is the best revenge. Anything is possible, they can do anything if they put their mind to it.