ReadyCT Forging Pathways for East Hartford Teens
Posted on 11/03/2022
FRYA Program Group Photo

Jessicah Amponsah, senior at East Hartford High School, spent 5 weeks this past summer learning through hands-on experiences and trainings what it’s like to be a first responder. Assisting with demonstrations by the East Hartford Police Department’s Crime Scene Investigation Unit, she realized what she wants to do in her own career.

“This experience alone made me want to further my studies and become a future crime scene investigator or a forensic science technician,” she said.

This paid internship called The First Responders Youth Academy (FRYA) is part of ReadyCT’s work in East Hartford, which launched this past March. ReadyCT partners with the Town of East Hartford and East Hartford Public Schools to place high school students in career-based experiences, internships and specialized training programs so they may continue down that pathway post-graduation.

Amponsah was one of 23 students who completed the FRYA program, all of whom earned Stop the Bleed and First Aid/CPR/AED credentials to booster their resumes. 6 of those students who were 2022 graduates are now on their way to becoming East Hartford firefighters.

“If we can build these pathways out, if we can expose them to industry, then they can see themselves in those careers,” said Dr. Gloria Ortiz-Rivera, ReadyCT Site Director for East Hartford.

Also this summer, 10 EHHS students worked in teams on real projects provided by businesses such as Travelers and Harford Healthcare in ReadyCT’s Get Ready! Immersive Traineeship (G.R.I.T.) program. 13 Synergy High School students completed the CT High School Pre-Apprenticeship Program (CTHSPA) offering career exploration in trades. In addition to the experience gained, they all earned at least two industry-recognized credentials or certifications.

“That’s pretty impressive for a program that we were able to stand up very quickly,” said Ortiz-Rivera. “East Hartford is the best example of how the Mayor’s office, Superintendent and administration at school, and teachers at the school were ready to collaborate. I couldn’t have asked for better partners.”

ReadyCT is aiming to continue building these pathways for students in high-demand industries such as healthcare, engineering and technology.

Ortiz-Rivera said, “The potential is there. Conversations continue to happen as we’re educating folks around the table and bringing in industry folks trying to figure out together what is the next, best move.”

ReadyCT’s goal is to place 50-75 East Hartford students in these pathway programs each year.