About Us

TNT School- Based Youth Services University Hospital

The TNT School-Based Youth Services Program of University Hospital provides counseling, employment services, health education & referral, and recreation and cultural activities to students enrolled in the Essex county Vocational Technical Schools.  In addition to peer leadership, dating abuse and pregnancy prevention programs, the TNT SBYSP also offers fitness and nutrition education to promote healthy life choices among participants.

Funded by the New Jersey Department of Children & Families, the program started in 1986 with an afterschool peer leadership program called Teens Networking Today for Tomorrow (TNT/ft).  More than 25 years later, students still meet weekly to develop leadership skills and share ideas, information, and encouragement in pursuit of personal goals and academic achievement.

University Hospital’s TNT School-Based Youth Services Program promotes the social, emotional, and physical health of students so that they graduate and are able to enroll in college or find employment.  TNT SBYSP provides individual and group services to approximately 600 students annually.  SBYSP staff members coordinate special events such as Family Fitness Day and Female Empowerment Week throughout the school year. 

Meet our staff

Mary-Ellen Mess | Ms. LaDonna | Matthew Basile | Ytzayrys Ojeda | Jessica Marques

Program Manager Mary-Ellen Messstarted TNT/ft in 1986. She and the program have grown together since then. Mary-Ellen is proud of the many TNT alumni who are making their own way in the world. As college students, parents and young professionals, they are putting into practice a lot of the skills learned right here at TNT. Mary-Ellen has a MLIS from Rutgers University, a MA from New York Institute of Technology and a BA from Rutgers-Newark. She is fond of saying "I am loveable and capable and so are you!"


Matthew Basile is our Employment Specialist. Matthew really enjoys working with teens. "They really appreciate my help," says Matthew "I don't ever recall having my adult clients call to thank me for helping them get a job!" Matthew has a M.A. in Public Policy from Fordham University and an undergraduate degree in History from Kings College.


"Ms. LaDonna" is well-known to all the teens who have participated in the TNT/ft Program since 1987. A graduate of William Paterson University with a B.A. in Health Education, LaDonna always has a lot to say. "I truly consider the opportunity to work with adolescents to be a gift. I enjoy the ups and downs of teenage life. I enjoy being creative; taking an idea that may seem silly and creating an interactive lesson that may provide a lifetime of memories. Anyone who knows me will say that I come to work to have fun and in the process I leave behind a footprint. I hope that I can meet you so we can learn and grow together."


Jessica Marques is our Mental Health Clinician who enjoys working with adolescents, helping them make the transition to adulthood by focusing on empowerment and leadership. Jessica has a M.A. in Forensic Psychology and Counseling and a B.A. in Psychology from the College of Saint Elizabeth where she is currently working towards a doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology. Jessica brings her educational experience to her work. . “My goal is to support adolescents' social and emotional wellness throughout their high school years”.

Ytzayrys Ojeda is both a graduate of No. 13th Street School and TNT/ft alumni. Ytzayrys is holds a degree in Social Work from Rutgers University. She is currently working on her MSW at Kean University.  Ytzayrys assists with the TNT/ft Peer Leadership meetings.  Promoting healthy youth development is a great foundation for Ytzayrys career aspirations.