On July 6, 18 urban squash high school students from 11 different member programs will gather in New York City to kick off the Third Annual Urban Squash Citizenship Tour. These civically-minded students will embark on an 8-day trip from New York City to Washington DC with a stop in Philadelphia. Along the way, the group will meet with leaders in government, public service, education, and journalism, and of course, save time for squash!
See below to learn more about our 2016 Tour students!
Antar Jimenez, Jr
Antar Jimenez Jr. is a rising junior at Lawrence High School in the Performing and Fine Arts Academy. He has lived most of his life in Lawrence with his 5 siblings, his dad, and his stepmom. His mother lives in Pennsylvania and is a supportive presence in his life, even cheering on Antar at squash tournaments whenever possible. Antar joined SquashBusters in the 7th grade when the program first expanded into Lawrence. Other than his grown passion for squash, he loves creative writing, cooking and baking, and spending time with his family. He has participated in the dance company at his school where he danced in the school’s competition, Dancing with the Stars: Teacher’s Edition, and the school’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in which Antar played the dwarf, Bashful. Antar had a chance to experience politics firsthand when he served as the 9th grade student body president at his school; he has been an active role in the student government since. He is determined to go to college and become one of the first generation college graduates in his family.
Racquet Up Detroit
Starnisha Ramsey is a rising junior at University Yes Academy, a charter school in Detroit, Michigan. She has two sisters and six brothers and hopes to be the first child out of nine to attend a four year university. She’s passionate about furthering her education and plans on pursuing a degree in engineering.
Starnisha joined Racquet Up Detroit in 2010 and has been a dedicated member ever since. Through Racquet Up, she has been able to meet new people and travel all across the country and even to Canada. She is a member of the Best Path Mentoring Program where she comes on her off days to help coach the younger students on and off the court. Starnisha hopes to continue playing squash when she goes to college.
Javier Gathers is a rising junior at Burke High School. Javier, who is also known as Javii, was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. Javier’s interests are playing basketball, football, video games and squash. Javii joined Chucktown Squash Scholars in August of 2011. Through his time with Chucktown Squash Scholars, Javii went to Princeton University Squash Camp for two consecutive years and has traveled to Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. During the Citizenship Tour, Javier is looking forward to meeting Lester Holt, learning about different jobs in Washington, as well as playing squash against new opponents in new cities. Javier is an active student at Burke and is involved with the JROTC as well as Upward Bound. Javier’s dream job is getting a job at Apple Headquarters to design the newest devices.
Tiffany M. Cervantes is a rising senior at Wilbur Cross High School. She was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. Tiffany is the eldest of three and has always worked hard academically to set a good example for her younger sisters. She joined Squash Haven three years ago, not knowing anything of the sport or about the non-profit organization she is now proud to call a second family. Here, she polished her skills to become a dedicated, ambitious student athlete. Tiffany will be the first in her family to attend a four year college in the U.S. Aside from playing squash, Tiffany’s other favorite sports are swimming and ice skating. Although she may seem an introvert, she enjoys being surrounded by people with good humor and being able to make others laugh. She is excited to meet new people on the Citizenship Tour this summer and to visit D.C.!
Davir Tyler was born and raised in Philadelphia. He is the oldest out of 9 children and will be attending Temple University for Business Administration, as the first person to attend college in his immediate family. He joined SquashSmarts in 2009 as a 6th grader at Charles R. Drew elementary. He gained a new passion after playing with the team for seven years. Other than playing squash, his number one passion is singing. Davir attended Creative and Performing Arts High of Philadelphia as a vocal major and graduated in the top ten percentile of his class. While at CAPA, Davir sang backup for Estelle, performed for the former and current Mayors of Philadelphia, performed for the famous R&B group, The Roots, and participated in countless musical events.
It was very tough for him to balance squash and performance/rehearsals, but SquashSmarts worked out a system for him to make it to practice and still perform around the city. Davir’s ambitious personality not only helped get him performances, but also an employee position at SquashSmarts. During the summer of 2015, he worked as an intern, where he ran various workshops, and helped run summer programming. Davir his currently waiting for the start of his first year of college and can not wait to see what the future holds.
Jade Roman is a 16 year old young woman and member of StreetSquash Harlem. She currently attends Thurgood Marshall Academy in Harlem, New York and will be an 11th grader in the fall. Jade is a hard worker who always wants to make sure that she tries her best at all that she does. Jade is a perfectionist, which she believes can be a positive and negative aspect of her personality. She wants to pursue a career that ultimately improves the lives of others.
Some of Jade’s hobbies include attempting to learn Korean, writing poetry, and investing herself into Korean pop culture. She plans on eventually becoming fluent in Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. Jade has a vision board where she posts her dreams and aspirations. Some of her dreams include: publishing a book, and pursuing photography. She wants to have a friend reunion with her fellow New Yorker friend and her Japanese friend in Japan soon. Overall Jade is a caring, sensitive soul who has many goals that she is going to work hard to attain.
Tyrese L. Evans is a rising senior at Wilbur Cross High School in New Haven, Connecticut who transferred from Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut at the end of his sophomore year. He was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. He joined Squash Haven in the fifth grade in 2009. He is interested in playing squash in college regardless of the school he attends. He also enjoys activities such as lacrosse, piano, basketball, video games, and reading. Academically, Tyrese enjoys science and history, and one day hopes to become a doctor or psychologist.
During the squash season he enjoys working hard to improve his game, which enables him to participate in high level tournaments during the year. He works very hard to maintain A’s and B’s during the school year, and he is also preparing to take the SAT in the fall. Tyrese is looking forward to starting his first summer job, and his last year of high school. He hopes to attend a university that has a varsity squash team, and is looking forward to experiencing college life.
Tyla McKenzie is a rising junior at a public high school in the Bronx, N.Y. and has been a member of CitySquash for six years. She was captain of her team for two years and held the #1 spot for the high school girls team. She is very outgoing and confident in everything she does and always puts her best foot forward. She is a leader and a great sport when it comes to squash and one of the most passionate players on her team. After high school she wants to attend a four-year college and play for the squash team. As for a career, she wants to be a heart surgeon and plans on attending medical school after college. Some of her passions other than squash, are dancing, volunteering at local hospitals, helping her mom out with her family and playing lacrosse. She is dedicated, motivated and is always looking for ways to better herself as a person and a squash player.
Na’imah John-Charles is a rising Junior at King College Prep located on the Southside of Chicago. Na’imah has lived all of her life in the Chicago area which is where she started MetroSquash in 2012 during her sixth grade year. She has dedicated a lot of her time at MetroSquash, predominantly in academics which has given her many opportunities to study at Northwestern University two summers in a row, Phillips Exeter Summer School, and traveling around the East Coast for squash tournaments. She has been admitted into the National Honors Society with the help of excellent tutors provided by MetroSquash. In her spare time she loves biking, longboarding, playing her clarinet, cooking/baking, and thrift shopping.
Kamarra Richberg is a rising Junior at Western High School. She is from Baltimore, Maryland. She is a part of Baltimore SquashWise. She joined their squash program entering her first year of HighSchool. Since then she has been a wonderful addition to their squash community and family. Kamarra joined SquashWise as a way to gain the extra assistance for school and also to learn a new sport. Being the oldest of three, she wanted to set an example for her younger brothers. Kamarra is a great role model for the younger students in her program. She always comes in with a smile, ready for every opportunity that she is given.
DuBois Stewart is a rising senior at Science Leadership Academy. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts and has since moved twice to Brooklyn, New York, and then to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was in Philadelphia that he learned about and began to play squash. DuBois has always had a deep seeded interest in sports and especially enjoys tennis, baseball, cross country, and squash. His other hobbies include reading, writing, singing, drawing, sculpting and hanging out with friends. DuBois joined SquashSmarts in 9th grade after transferring from Chestnut Hill Academy to further his growth in the sport and meet other people who enjoyed the sport as much as he. DuBois’ work on the court has paid off, as the summer of his 2nd year at SquashSmarts he received a two-year scholarship to play at another program, Scozzie Squash, while attending their summer camp. As a testament to his character, DuBois received the Player of the Year award from the SquashSmarts staff this past year. He hopes to continue his success as he enters his senior year, all while applying to colleges and maintaining his 3.7 GPA.
Denise Bonilla is a rising senior at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School (Co-op) in New Haven, CT. She has attended New Haven Public Schools throughout her life and joined Squash Haven when she was in 5th grade in 2009. She struggled at first with the squash component of the program, as she was the only girl in her age group among rapidly improving boys. However, in her second year, she became highly motivated to improve and started practicing more, both on her own, with more experienced teammates, and with her coaches during extra squash sessions. She has been in the program for the past seven years and can say proudly, and confidently, that she has improved tremendously over that time. The past few years, Denise has taken all honors classes at school, and during her junior year took two rigorous AP courses. She currently holds a 3.9 GPA. Her hopes for the college process includes mostly how she will apply her talent and love for writing to a career she will want to study in college and pursue in the future. She also hopes to keep improving her game to prepare herself to take on college squash.
Elijah Hamilton is a rising junior at De La Salle High School on the South Side of Chicago.He is also a proud participant of MetroSquash, a big fan of interacting with others and doing things that tend to be a bit out of the ordinary. In his free time, Elijah does a lot of reading, alternating between reading educational books and the occasional fun read. One of his favorite books is Ender’s Game.
Access Youth Academy
América Sánchez is from San Diego, California. She is a current student from Access Youth Academy and has been in the Urban-Squash program for about 3 years now. America goes to the Preuss School UCSD and is entering her junior year of high school. She thinks of herself as slowly becoming a social butterfly, with many ambitions to be the change that she wants to see in the world. America comes from a family of Mexican immigrants and is going to be the first one in her family to be finishing a higher education.
Racquet Up Detroit
Aaron Levy is 16 years old and from Detroit. He first started playing squash when he was in 5th grade at the age of 11. He likes the sport and that is what he spends most of his time doing. Aaron is from a family of four, with two brothers, one older and one younger, and a older sister. His family is originally from Jamaica but Aaron was born in the U.S. Aaron is really looking forward to the Tour!
Jesus Baez is a rising junior at Arrupe Jesuit high school in Denver, Colorado. He was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. Jesus joined Impact 360 his 6th grade year in 201 and he wants to continue playing squash after high school either competitively or for fun. In addition to squash, he is passionate about music, debate, and getting to know new people.Through his high school’s work study program, Jesus has been able to work at a local bank in Denver. He especially enjoys the opportunity to work in a professional setting and the experience and opportunity it provides. Jesus is a driven student student who works hard on and off the squash court.