Meeting Edna Correa

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Edna Correa following our interview in the community room of Los Sures.

I was set up to interview Edna Correa at the Los Sures Social Services building. Before I arrived, my only interaction with Edna had been a brief phone call to schedule the interview. The agreement to be interviewed had already been arranged in advance by collaboration between Professor Rebecca Amato and staff of Los Sures. When I got off the building’s elevator at the lower level and walked into the room organized to meet in, despite never seeing me in person, Edna immediately recognized me. She verified it was me and called me over to where she sat. Without hesitation, she pulled me into a hug and offered me juice. In just the first moments of meeting Edna, I was already getting a picture of who this woman was which was only further affirmed throughout our interview. Edna is consistently welcoming people in and wanting to help them, a large part of why she is so involved with her neighborhood.

Edna was born and raised in Puerto Rico, coming to New York City on her seventeenth birthday. New York, specifically the neighborhood of Los Sures, is where Edna set a foundation. This is where she met and married her husband and started her own family, now consisting of her four grown sons and sixteen grandchildren. Edna accurately describes herself as a fighter—from when she moved to Los Sures to now, Edna has continuously strived to do whatever she set her mind to for herself and for those in her community. While raising her four kids, Edna also attended and graduated from college. A main source of motivation for her during the years of pursuing her education in high school and college was her father. Despite the fact that when she was studying “school wasn’t for everybody, only for the rich people,” Edna was able to continue her education—an education she is still paying towards today—by drawing strength from her father who consistently reminded her and her siblings how important education was. From her father, Edna adopted a mentality that she now shares with the youth in her area: "if I did it, you can do it."[1] She wants to see those in her neighborhood—especially the young people—achieve everything she knows they are capable of. The key to supporting this capability, based on the importance Edna gave it, is education and coming together as a community.

Both of these factors leave room for concern. In terms of education, the school system is not doing justice to the enrolled students. When Edna looks at the schools system—a system within in which she was once heavily involved, holding roles such as teacher, volunteer, and Parent Teacher Association President over the years—she worries it is not doing justice to the students by preparing them in the ways they need. It seems “the kids, they aren’t getting the education the way it’s supposed to be.”[2] On top of this, perhaps as a result of the school system, Edna shared multiple anecdotes pointing to her increasing observation of individuals not caring about their education or viewing getting an education—especially from a higher education institution—as an unattainable goal. When talking to her granddaughter, Edna reminds her that if she wants “to be somebody,” she needs to “finish school and go to college and make yourself strong.”[3] This is what she wants for the youth and other members of her community: to be able to be somebody.

Though Edna has no plan to stop rallying for help and what she believes her neighborhood needs and deserves, she emphasizes that “everybody has to be together. Not only one person.”[4] No matter what the focus is whether it be education or housing—two of Edna’s main points of emphasis—or something else, “the main thing is to…congregate the people and support. Otherwise, nothing [is] gonna work.”[5]

Meeting Edna Correa