Fhynita Brinson leads RCC's Talent Search Program as the college partners with neighborhood schools
Ted Thomas | 1/3/2012, 6:23 p.m.
You could say that Fhynita Brinson, the new director of Roxbury Community College’s Talent Search Project, is experiencing a kind of homecoming. Brinson graduated from
Roxbury Community College, and later earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Now she has returned to lead the RCC’s effort to provide services to Boston Public High School students who need educational support through a bold and challenging initiative.
Such work is not necessarily new to Brinson. “Before I came here,” she said in a recent interview, “I worked for METCO (The Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity) for six years in the town of Wakefield and in the town of Sudbury for one year.” The METCO program, which began in 1966, places students from Boston neighborhoods into suburban school systems. “What I did,” she explained, “was work with students from Boston, keep them on track and prepare them for graduation.”
As METCO director, and a member of the schools’ K through 12 administrative teams, Brinson collaborated with guidance counselors and others to help METCO students succeed. The support ranged from “helping them pick courses and tutoring” to SAT preparation classes. As a former METCO student herself, (she attended Reading High), Brinson knows firsthand the importance of such support if students are to be successful. While Brinson was a METCO student, she didn’t receive the guidance she needed as she tired “to navigate” her way through the program. She found it “personally satisfying” to have been able to do that at METCO as well as being “an inspiration” to the students she worked with.
Her professional experience as METCO director will be put to good use as project director for RCC’s Talent Search Program. The purpose of the program is centered on “Project GPS, which means Graduate, Perform and Succeed.” According to its brochure, Project GPS “will target 500 students from designated Boston Public Schools to participate in the program.” The brochure further explained, “Project GPS will assist students in moving from middle school through high school and college to graduation by providing creative and engaging educational services, programs and experiences.”
Project GPS will provide “academic, career and financial counseling to its participants,” and encourage “them to graduate from high school and continue on to complete college.” The Roxbury Community School Partners are Lila Frederick Middle School, Brighton High, English High, Boston Adult Technical Academy and New Mission High.
The project resonates with Brinson because of one key interest of hers. “In recent years,” she said, “I have developed an interest in retention.” In particular, she wants to see more students of color graduate college. She wants to look at ways of keeping students in college “once we get them there.” What interested her most in the Talent Search Program was its emphasis on retention.
“What interested me in Talent Search was not only helping students get into colleges of their choice, but the program supports them to completion,” she said.
She added, “Then there is all of the other stuff we overlook, the stuff left at home.” For example, she said that there are a significant number of students who feel pressure to take a semester off to work in order to help contribute to household finances. And then “school kind of goes on the back burner.”
Brinson believes that it is important “to help students see the bigger picture of (how much more) they would be able to do once they complete their degrees.”
Brinson has been busy these days meeting with school administrators, interviewing and hiring staff, and all of the other details, big and small, that go along with being a director. The hiring process is ongoing, and she is still looking for academic coaches to work on the project.
She will be happy once the hiring is completed and some other details. “I’m ready to get started,” she exclaimed. “I’m ready to go into the schools.”