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Developing Leaders Of The Future

Mentoring Program Pairs City Students With Executives From Bank Of America

July 18, 2005
By ASHLEY L. BATTLE, Courant Staff Writer

On paper, Amarilys Torres and Christina Desaulniers don't have much in common. Torres just graduated from Hartford Public High School, and Desaulniers is a learning coordinator at Bank of America in Hartford.

But thanks to Bank of America's Student Leaders program, the two have formed a connection. Desaulniers, 44, became Torres' mentor in January.

Torres' former employer at South End Community Services in Hartford nominated her to participate in the program. Susan Rottner, the bank's market president for Hartford, said the students are selected based on their academic excellence as well as demonstrated leadership ability. The program, which began a year ago, pairs five students in the city with executives from the bank. So far, Rottner said, the students have responded "extremely well" to the program.

"You do get a lot of experience. And it's good for my resume," Torres, 17, said about her internship this summer at the Asylum Hill Boys and Girls Club.

As a "professional youth developer" at the club, Torres works with 8- and 9-year-olds alongside a teacher.

"We teach them how to be safe in their community, kind of like street smarts," Torres said.

Torres also said the internship has been a learning experience for her.

"With kids, you have to have a lot of patience and understanding," she said, adding that her years of baby-sitting have helped with her summer job.

Desaulniers and Torres talk about their six-month relationship fondly, often with one finishing a sentence for the other. Since they paired up, they have engaged in numerous activities together, including Torres shadowing Desaulniers at her job and Desaulniers attending Torres' graduation in May.

As part of the program, Desaulniers and Torres also perform community service. The two recall a volunteer assignment in the spring when they went to the club to accompany what they thought would be 100 kids on a field trip to a local Chuck E. Cheese's.

It turned out to be 200 children with 40 chaperones.

Desaulniers and Torres came up with a unique way to solve the recurring problem of kids losing the tickets they won after playing games.

"We just started giving them ours," Torres said.

After that, Torres decided to work at the Asylum Hill club.

"I just love working with kids," she said.

Torres plans to attend Capital Community College in Hartford, but she is undecided on her major.

"I like so many things," she said. "Computers, kids, forensic science ..." After college, she plans to settle down before going back to college to get another degree.

Torres has her own ideas about why she connects with her students so well. "I'm a kid at heart," she said.

Desaulniers, of Manchester, uses another word to describe Torres: "I've made a new friend."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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