On July 16th, the 2nd Annual Urban Squash Citizenship Tour kicks off in New York City with 21 bright and accomplished high school and college students from our member programs around the country.
Want to get to know the students on this year’s trip? Check them out below!
Alexandra Matamoros graduated from Hill Regional Career High School, and will attend St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York as the first in her family to attend college. Alexandra’s parents emigrated from Mexico to New Haven, CT in 1994. She is the first to be born in the United States in 1997 on both sides of the family along with her younger sister in 2002. Alexandra attended New Haven Public Schools throughout her educational career and joined Squash Haven in 2008. Alexandra has been in the program for the past seven years and she can proudly say Squash Haven is a second home and family. When she first joined Squash Haven as a sixth grade student from John Martinez School, she was very self-conscious. After a few weeks, she began to gain self confidence and became more open around people. She also discovered that she was capable of being a really strong student and athlete. Alexandra had the opportunity to play in competitive squash tournaments, such as the U.S Junior Open and is currently nationally ranked at #63. Throughout her time at Squash Haven her team has won three National Urban Squash Education Association team championships. With major support from her Squash Haven team and family later this fall, she plans on playing varsity squash at St. Lawrence University along with majoring in Political Science with a minor in Arabic.
Ravi Rao is a rising junior at the John D. O’ Bryant School of Math and Science. He was adopted from Poona, India when he was 8 months old and has been raised in Brighton, MA, just outside Boston. Ravi’s interests include basketball, soccer, squash, politics and hanging out with friends. With a mother from Brazil and a father from India, Ravi has grown up exposed to diverse cultures. His interest in Politics stems from his mother, a professor in Political Science at the College of the Holy Cross, and he has been exposed to many rallies and politicians in his life. In the future, Ravi hopes to become a general manager of sports team (hopefully the Celtics) and/ or a history teacher.
Tracy is an upcoming Junior at Central High School. She was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She is very dedicated to her education. In the next school year she will be taking half of her classes at a college for college credits and high school credits. She enjoys giving back to her community and continues to do so by leading a community service club at her school. She has been playing squash for 2 years now and has traveled to a couple tournaments with the team. Other sports she plays are tennis and volleyball. During her free time she likes to read and hangout with friends. She currently works at Chipotle. Tracy loves telling jokes with family and friends and enjoy being outdoors anytime during any weather.
Nicholas Little graduated from Frederick Douglass Academy II and will attend Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York to study computer engineering. He was born and raised in Harlem, New York. Nicholas joined StreetSquash in 2011 when he was in 8th grade. He was team captain for 3 years and then became Co Chair of the Student Leadership Council in his senior year. At his high school he joined the robotics team where he and his classmates built a robot and competed in a competition with other high schools nationwide. With the help of StreetSquash, Nicholas’ maintained amazing grades and went on to become the salutatorian of Frederick Douglass Academy II’s Class of 2015.
Tayler St. Clair lead SquashWise’s first graduating class on the squash courts and in the classroom. Tayler earned the highest GPA among SquashWise seniors, topped the women’s squash ladder, and mentored the middle school team by being a committed volunteer for weekly sessions. Tayler joined SquashWise in 2009 because she wanted to travel. Since then she has been to Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC, and Denver and has attended camps at the Naval Academy, Phillips Exeter, and the University of Rochester. Tayler has also ventured out on three expeditions with Outward Bound; hiked the Dolly Sod Mountains and canoed through rivers in West Virginia. Tayler has always had a passion for animals and hopes to study pre-veterinary medicine at Frostburg State University next fall.
Access Youth Academy
Johnny Hayes is an up and coming senior at The Preuss School UCSD, a charter school on the UCSD campus dedicated to getting first generation students accepted into a four year university. He hopes to attend New York University in order to pursue his passion: Musical Theater. Not without a plan, he also aims to double major in computer science in order to avoid the all too common ‘starving artist’ predicament. In sixth grade, Johnny was uprooted from his home with his Mother, and placed with his Grandmother by the court system. His home gone, Johnny needed to find stability, and did so at school. He recognized that many things were out of his control, but his grades were all his own. His progress reports suddenly shifted from a mix of As, Bs and Cs to straight As, and have been such ever since. Thanks to his Grandmother, he also found a passion for performing on the stage. He is a lead player in Preuss’ Musical Theater class, takes private singing lessons, and has his first ever college audition in the summer.
Mile High Squash
Jessica Gamez is a rising senior at East High School in Denver, Colorado. She has lived in Denver her whole life along with her two older brothers, Moses and Chris, and her mother. When Jessica was in the fifth grade she joined Mile High Squash as one of the first students to ever join. Since then she has stuck with the program and plans to be part of the second graduating class for the program. Jessica has also became part of many other extra-curricular activities such as Diversity Dialogue, a program at East High School that talks to the freshman about the diversity at the school and their feelings towards it and Link Leader, another program at East that helps freshman transfer from middle school to high school. Also Jessica has taken on the role of being the Football Team Manager, which has become a big part of her life since it has shown to be a huge commitment. However, she plans to continue being the Team Manager during her senior year since she loves the job. Jessica also completed an internship with the Governor’s Office that gave her a lot of insight as to what some jobs in politics may look like and whether or not they are the right fit for her.
Anathiel John-Charles is a student at Kenwood Academy located on the southside of Chicago. She will be a senior next year (20152016) and is considering going to college locally. Anathiel is a member of the NUSEA team MetroSquash. She is exclusively committed to the sport squash at this time. She is a self-taught artist and writer who loves action films, food, video games, meeting new people, and creating new experiences. Anathiel’s family is from the West Indies (Caribbean) predominantly on her father’s side. She relishes engaging in discussions on the deeper things of life.
Wengel Kifle was born in Ethiopia where she spent her young childhood with her mother. Through a refugee camp, Wengel, her mother, and her aunt were assigned Connecticut and moved to the United States when Wengel was just seven years old. It was quite a change to have to leave everything and everyone they knew at home behind and be exposed to new people, a new culture, climate and language. When Wengel started first grade in New Haven, CT, she only knew an extremely small range of very simple English words. Luckily there were many small children books in her classroom and she seized the opportunity to read as much as she could. After a few months, of reading, watching television, and adapting, she began to make very significant progress and within a year she was able to speak English quite fluently, without any trace of an accent. She attended an English learning program, with fellow students from other countries, in order to gain English reading and writing skills. After completing this program, she felt completely adapted and had become comfortable in her new environment. She loved the friendships she developed and loved going to school, which led to Wengel receiving the highest grades in her grade. Squash Haven learned of Wengel through her E.S.L program and asked her to try out in her 8th grade. Wengel was later accepted and began her amazing journey in the program. Wengel has taken advantage of the many opportunities presented to her through Squash Haven, such as a summer program at Choate Rosemary Hall, where she experienced her first glimpse of boarding school. After completing her freshman year at Hill Regional Career High School, Squash Haven encouraged her to consider boarding schools, this time for the remainder of her high school career. After completing applications, attending tours and interviewing, Wengel ultimately decided to attend The Taft School. For Wengel, attending Taft has been such an unbelievable blessing; she has been able to further educate herself on many of her passions through conferences concerning feminism and society in the U.S. Taft has also allowed her to fulfill her dreams of traveling; Wengel is currently in Spain attending a three week Spanish immersion program! She looks forward to attending the Citizenship Tour later this summer and meeting everyone!
Access Youth Academy
Kevin Le was born and raised in San Diego, CA, where he attended the Preuss School UCSD in 2008. After his first year, Kevin was introduced to Access Youth Academy, where he then learned about the sport of his life – squash! Throughout the next six years at Access, Kevin learned the importance and values of becoming a leader. He developed the skills necessary to become a better squash player and better person overall by staying determined, motivated and confident. Kevin was aware of the obstacles that were in his life: having a single mother who didn’t have the resources that could guide him to the path of college. Despite being a underrepresented minority student, Kevin became even more motivated to become a student athlete and prepared himself for his future. At a young age, Kevin didn’t know what he wanted to do in life, but that all changed six years later. Now, Kevin is going to attend Wesleyan University in the fall, where he will play collegiate squash with the Men’s Varsity Team. Kevin plans on pursuing a career in the STEM field and will take the opportunities that are offered at Wesleyan. He is grateful for the journey that he’s taken with Access as it did indeed change his life and transformed him into the adult he is today.
Cindy Yao is currently a rising senior at Frederick Douglass Academy II. She and her family moved to the United States from the Ivory Coast in 2007. Soon thereafter, Cindy and her family moved from the Bronx to Harlem. Since moving to the United States the transition was pretty huge. Cindy went from attending a private Catholic school in the Ivory Coast, to attending public school in Harlem. In the 7th grade Cindy was introduced to StreetSquash. The program helped her stay on task for school and she also learned how to play squash. StreetSquash helped Cindy improve her grades and go from an average student to one of the top students in her class. Cindy has been nominated for the posse scholarship and is involved in robotics, peer mediation, book club, and more. She ranks 3rd out of 65 juniors and is working her way up to becoming salutatorian or valedictorian.
Nytiece Powell is a seventeen-year-old rising college student from Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and graduated in May of 2015. Nytiece will enter his first year of college at Frostburg State University this fall. He is also a squash player and a member of the Baltimore SquashWise urban squash program. His dedication to the sport was displayed last year, when he won the Under 17 division at the Urban Individual Nationals tournament at Amherst College. Nytiece is currently making his dream of a post-secondary education come true and is focused on obtaining his degree in criminal justice.
Emma Montero is currently a rising senior at Humanities Preparatory Academy and is just beginning her college process. Emma is interested in engineering, business and law. She wants to go to a liberal arts college that offers all the different areas of study she’s interested in. Emma was born and raised in New York City and resides there to this day. Emma participates in StreetSquash and is very active in the program. She is well known for her hard work and dedication to her success. She has won numerous awards at StreetSquash such as the attendance award, most improved in squash, and the squash achievement award. From StreetSquash she has played in tournaments such as Urban Individuals, Urban Team Nationals, the Tournament of the Champions, and the Women’s Squash League. This past January, she was a finalist at Urban Team Nationals and also a finalist for the academic contest. In school, she has won emerging voice in democracy and always maintained a high average, placing her on gold honor roll. She falls in the top 5% of her junior class with a 3.4 GPA.
Mile High Squash
Magali Martinez is the oldest of three children and has worked hard over the years to set a good example for her siblings. She graduated from Arrupe Jesuit High School and was fortunate to earn a full-ride scholarship to Regis University. She is planning to major in business, specifically in business administration or business accounting. Ever since she was little, she has had the support of her parents. Her dad has always been the one who has motivated her the most. He has always set high expectations for her, especially because she is the oldest. Since her brother was born she has had to take care of him while her parents work in the afternoons. This experience taught Magali about the responsibility needed to raise a child and how to to manage her time more effectively. When she was in middle school, Magali got involved in Marichi, a program where young students get to play different type of instruments. She had the wonderful opportunity to play the violin amongst the Colorado Symphony and Mariachi Sol de mi Tierra. During her freshman year, Magali decided to join the school volleyball team and club volleyball. During her sophomore year she was determined to join Mile High Squash, and she has been part of the program for three years. Once senior year came around she wanted to give cross country a try, and she ended up loving the sport. Along with sports, Magali has been involved in community service all throughout her four years in high school. Magali is excited and anxious for college but she feels prepared for the new challenges and experiences that she is about to encounter.
After her parents decided that she needed a better education for a better future, Yaritza was brought to the United States where she lived with her aunt. Her aunt, Teresa, took her in when she was 10 years old and the transition was difficult. Though at times Yaritza struggles with the distance from her parents, she is grateful for their sacrifices to give her new opportunities. Now, Yaritza is proud of where she is as she watches her senior friends graduate, and is ready to tackle the college process and soon begin a new stage of knowledge and excitement. After attending a prestigious semester-long program at The Mountain School at Milton Academy, Yaritza Amado is returning to the John D. O’Bryant school in Boston to begin her senior year. Yaritza will be looking at colleges with chemical engineering and/or pharmaceutical science majors to pursue her passions. She joined the SquashBusters program in 9th grade and enjoys the sport of squash as well as receiving help and assistance in academics such as SAT and college prep.
Monisha Das is a recent graduate from the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA. In the fall, she will be attending Widener University as a science major. Originally from Bangladesh, Monisha and her family have been living in Philadelphia since 2002.
As the youngest in her family, Monisha’s transition to America was easier. She picked up the English language quicker than her siblings. Monisha played the Viola from third to eighth grade. Around eighth grade, she joined SquashSmarts and has been an active member of the program for five years. During her sophomore year and junior years, she interned at SquashSmarts, where she helped them run their summer program as well as mentored and coached several students. Apart from her squash and school life, she spends a great amount of her time doing community service, taking care of her garden, and even volunteering in public community gardens in the Philadelphia area. Monisha loves reading, crafting and is fond of baking. For her senior project, she had bake sales from January to May and kept track of all her data. At the end, she was able to understand what it is like to run a small business or bakery. Currently, Monisha is waiting for college to start and to see what the future will bring.
Santa Barbara School of Squash
David Quintero is a rising senior at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, California. He is a member of the Santa Barbara School of Squash and he coaches the younger kids in the program. In his free time, he can be found at the squash club improving his squash game. He plays various tournaments throughout the school year.