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Remarkable Woman: Christine Sylvain Helps Lake Worth Students Get Ready For College

Inspiring women
Courtesy of Christine Sylvain
Christine Sylvain, 34, started a nonprofit to help students in schools in low-income areas of Palm Beach County get college prep and mentorship to help get into college.

In honor of Women's History Month, WLRN is collecting stories about inspiring women in South Florida. We appreciate your tweets, emails and texts about the amazing women in your communities. 

Christine Sylvain always knew she wanted to help students. She wanted to give public school kids the same attention that private school students got. And when she became old enough, she did.

For the past two years. Sylvain, 34, has been working to match volunteer mentors with high school students who don't have access to or can't afford SAT prep through her nonprofit Path To College, which is based in the city of Lake Worth.

Lynn Farley knew, once she saw Christine Sylvain in speak at an ACLU meeting in Lake Worth, she wanted to work with her.

"Christine raised her hand and said 'I want to help the children in the Lake Worth Community and I want to help them get into good universities, and really give them the care and attention that students get when they go to a private school,'" Farley remembered. "From the minute she started talking I was impressed with her."

Farley is one of seven people who nominated Sylvain as one of South Florida's Remarkable Women. Lynn used to live in Boynton Beach - and was one of the first mentors in Path To College. Now she lives in California. 


WLRN: Lynn, you emailed our newsroom to tell us that Christine is "amazing" and that she inspires you. Explain why she's so awesome.

Farley: There's so many things that she's done to build [students'] confidence and to help usher them through the challenging process of getting into really good universities…. It's just an incredible program. 

When I was a teenager, if I'd had someone like her in my life I think it just would have been wonderful. 

Christine, how are you feeling hearing these things about yourself?

Sylvain: Well, that is very humbling and really touching for me. That's very nice, and I'm like, 'we're going to keep doing it.' 

I listen to Lynn's words - and she was she was one of the first mentors. It's just exciting because it's just the beginning. You know, there's so many other kids that we need to help.

I talk to people all over the county every day and all up part of our mission path to college which is to enrich the academic growth and increase the competitiveness of low income high achieving students in college admissions. My Instagram [direct-message] box is totally full of students asking, 'how do I get into this program?' The hunger is there. The students have the drive and the willingness. We just have to help them.

What if our community decided that we have some really amazing talent hidden in the depths of all that comes along in a disadvantaged community, which is often poverty, housing insecurity,  food insecurity,  drugs,  violence... What if we took the kids who really value education and we removed all the barriers?

So I don't think that it's me. It's the kids that inspire me. They will blow you away. We all want to do good. I think it's a natural part of being human. Path To College just gives the community an avenue to do that, locally. 

Listen to Christine Sylvain's response - and why she is so passionate about her nonprofit.

On how Christine has impacted Lynn's life:

This was an amazing gift to me to be able to work with my mentee, and then to learn from Christine...I've learned a lot from her. Like, I'm not a teacher - I'm a finance person - but I learned so much about teaching and helping students.

My mentee turned out to be perfectly suited for me. I think we're going to be friends for life. 

We talked about what she was doing in school. We talked about the ways in which she wanted to give back to the community. And we just we just worked on anything she needed. We talked about her family. We talked about situations that she encountered at school, and we just adapted to whatever was needed at the time. 

When it came time to do the applications I helped edit her essays her essays were incredible. Turns out she's quite a creative writer. 

On how Christine's impacted the community:

I just think she's a remarkable person because she set her mind out to do something and then she did it. 

She cares so much about helping these students so that they come back and help the community... Each of these students, they have their own dreams. And Christine has encouraged them. 

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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