A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way
and shows the way.”
John C. Maxwell
Born and raised in a community that is stigmatised and ridiculed, Crystal Camejo Pontrelli decided at a very early age that she was going to be the change she wanted to see. Growing up in East Port of Spain, Crystal felt the sting of community neglect, which created the formula for a life full of challenges.
Expectations were very low, examples were few and far between, if any at all, and the anticipated outcome was one of abject failure. Crystal saw the reality of youths that felt left behind and took up the mantle to make a difference and forge a path that her peers can follow.
THE JOURNEY TO SUCCESS
Determined that her geography will not be the author of her biography, Crystal decided she had to do something about the cycle of generational and community trauma that seemed to be the normal way of life for most. She pursued a career in Occupational Health and Safety and also worked as a Business Development Officer. However, Crystal was determined to continue on a path of progress that can positively impact the lives of others. In May 2015, Crystal received an acceptance letter from Monroe College in NY, USA. Excited about the news yet baffled as to how it all unfolded, Crystal seized the moment and shared the news with one of her mentors who supported fund raising ventures, to assist with her transition to the American academy. Finally, she started to see the light of hope entering her life.
WALKING IN HER PURPOSE
In 2017 Crystal topped her class at Monroe College, NY with a 4.0 GPA and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with concentration in Legal Studies. She was the first person in her family home in Gonzales, east Port-of-Spain to graduate from college. In 2019 she cupped the same title this time topping her class with a 4.0 GPA with a Master’s in Business Administration with Finance concentration.
This achievement led to her being a part of a 10 percent of graduates elected as a member of the Nu Omega Chapter in recognition of high scholastic attainment by the prestigious Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society in Business. Crystal was also named the 2019 King Graduate School of Business and Accounting Dean’s Award Recipient. This propelled Crystal to further advance her desire to mentor and coach young people and used her networking skill along with her new position to mentor students at Monroe College. But she didn’t forget where she came from and embarked on projects that can also benefit youths in Trinidad and Tobago.
Crystal shares, “People would say nothing good would come from ‘behind the bridge’ and we would not make something of ourselves, but I always knew I was destined for something better.”
In partnership with organisations aligned to her purpose, their teams sponsored over 50 Young Men and Women across Trinidad & Tobago to be certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid. This training allows for each person to have a better understanding of mental health challenges from a youth perspective and to help eliminate the barriers of stigma and discrimination against mental health. Crystal is also a financial sponsor for a young woman of East POS, who is currently studying Computer Science at St. John’s University in Queens NY.
Crystal is an innovative motivator and life changer, built to inspire hope through her honest and game changing approach to life. She has established herself as a well sought-after consultant in business, Youth Empowerment Strategies and Higher Education. Her commitment to empowering individuals is surpassed only by her Faith in God and dedication to her family.
She notes her story of becoming who she is today, is one of resilience and the unadulterated grace of God. Therefore, her advice to young women on fulfilling their full potential is “Every dream that you have locked up inside of you can be achieved. Take that leap of faith, believe in yourself, be intentional and unapologetic about the vision that you carry. God opens doors for those who diligently seek him out for guidance. Stay focussed on the goal ahead. It’s not over until you win.”