On July 12, 18 urban squash high school students from 10 different member programs will gather in New York City to kick off the Fourth 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 “meet” our 2017 Tour students! To see our itinerary and learn more about the Citizenship Tour, be sure to visit our Tour webpage.
Access Youth Academy
Felicia Yamaguchi Jordan is a recent high school graduate from Access Youth Academy — the NUSEA program located in San Diego, California.
She has been an active participant in her squash team for the past five years and hopes to continue being a part of Access throughout her college years. Besides her squash life, Felicia is an extremely passionate and avid reader, writer, and educator on issues such as the ones being addressed on this year’s Citizenship Tour. Felicia will be attending the University of California, Berkeley this upcoming fall to continue her education and follow her dreams to become an African American Studies professor at a Historically Black College & University (HBCU).
Being a part of a Japanese and African American household has shaped Felicia’s drive for social justice and awareness. She cannot wait to partake on the amazing experiences she will endeavor throughout the duration of the Citizenship Tour and share her newfound knowledge with those around her.
Vinayak Mishra is a rising college freshman who will be attending the University of Connecticut this fall as part of their Honors Program. Vinayak was born in a small town in India, and moved to New Haven with his family when he was 8. He first joined Squash Haven in the 7th grade, and has loved the squash and academic opportunities that the program has provided. In addition to his interest in squash, Vinayak also loves science, and hopes to one day become an Orthopedic Surgeon. Vinayak is an outgoing individual who loves to spend time with his friends. Vinayak is really excited about being on the Citizenship Tour and learning about the ways that people use activism—particularly in healthcare medicine—to help their communities.
Santa Barbara School of Squash
Zaira Paredes-Villegas is a fellow squasher who joined the Santa Barbara School of Squash in 8th grade. Zaira has lived in Santa Barbara, California ever since she can remember and couldn’t be happier to call this place home. She have two siblings, a 10-year-old sister and 16-year-old brother. Zaira always tried to be a good example for both of them and hope they learn from my mistakes. As a recent graduate from Laguna Blanca School, she will soon be joining the Trojan Family at the University of Southern California. She cannot be more excited to announce that she will be studying to get her Bachelor’s Degree in the Fine Arts for Stage management as a first generation student.
Santa Barbara School of Squash has helped her become the person she is today. If it weren’t for them and this lovely sport she wouldn’t have the opportunity to travel all across the United States, and she is so excited to visit Washington D.C. Even though, squash has taken up a big part of her life, she also really enjoys going on beach walks, working out and watching Netflix. Zaira is so excited to be a part of this year’s Citizenship Tour and meet new people and cities.
Juan Huerta is a rising college freshman who will be attending Franklin and Marshall in the fall. He was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, and graduated from Career High School. He has been part of Squash Haven for 6 years, first joining the program when he was in the 7th grade. Aside from Squash, Juan enjoys his math and science classes, and hopes to become an Engineer.
Juan is focused, dedicated, and a family oriented person. He might look like a quiet person at first, but once you get to know him, he will open himself up to you. Juan is really excited to attend the Citizenship Tour this Summer and it is guaranteed that others attending will always see a smile on his face.
Taniya Gray is rising senior at Hill Regional Career High School. She was born and raised in Connecticut with her three sisters (one of whom is her twin) and her brother. She joined Squash Haven when she was in the 6th grade and has loved the program ever since. Taniya always works hard to improve her squash skills, and she is dedicated to academics. Taniya makes sure that she takes challenging classes, and her twin sister is always there for some friendly competition. Other than squash, Taniya’s passions are dancing and running track. Taniya started dancing when she was 7, and her favorite classes are ballet and jazz. She began getting involved with her track team during her freshman year of high school. On the track team, Taniya has excelled in the long jump and triple jump. Taniya plans to go to college to study in communications, and she cannot wait to see what the future has in store for her.
Maleik is from Baltimore, Maryland and has been a member of the SquashWise team for seven years. He went to Bard High School Early College and took college level courses, earning enough college credits to complete the Early College Program and receive an Associate’s Degree. Maleik is attending McDaniel College in the fall of 2017, where he will study sports medicine, physical therapy. and physical training with the hopes of pursuing a career in personal training/ physical therapy. Outside of squash, Maleik enjoys playing other sports, especially basketball. One thing he would like to take away from the Citizenship Tour is the opportunity to speak with political figures and gain a better understanding of their views on problems in society.
Kat Leiva is a rising senior at Lawrence High School. She has lived in Lawrence with her six siblings since she was just eight months old when her family moved from California. Kat joined SquashBuster’s in the 7th grade when the program first expanded to Lawrence: she’s one of the “original six.” Kat is extremely athletic and not only excels on the squash court, but she is also a star of the varsity women’s Lawrence High School basketball team. Since Kat has been in the SquashBusters program, she has maintained her spot as number one on the girl’s SquashBuster’s Lawrence ladder.
Kat is a part of her school’s Girl’s Ensemble where she performs in concerts around Massachusetts. In addition, Kat is also a part of the Guatemala Cultural Group in Lawrence which allows her to give back to the community and teach others about her culture. Kat is an extremely driven student making honor roll every term this past year. With this passion and drive for success, she is determined to attend a noteworthy four year college while also playing high-level, competitive squash for the school she chooses.
Jonathan is 17 year old recent high school graduate from Frederick Douglass Academy II in Harlem, New York. In 9th grade, Jonathan joined StreetSquash, located a couple blocks away from his school. Quickly, Jonathan found a love for squash, and eventually began playing in leagues and tournaments year round. When not on the squash court, Jonathan is in painting club, facilitating the Gay Straight Alliance program at his school, or tutoring fellow students. In the future, Jonathan wishes to be a veterinarian. For now, Jonathan will attend Hunter College in the fall, hoping to become one of the first to graduate a 4 year college in his family.
Kayland Jones is a rising senior at Lane Tech College Prep High School, one of the top schools in Illinois. She has been a part of MetroSquash since she was in 5th grade, but she likes to spend most of her time in academics where she receives homework help and engages in deep discussion about world issues. Kayland loves to read books and watch her favorite television shows in her free time. She has a passion for traveling. She has been to Colombia and the Dominican Republic and wants to see more of Latin America.
In the future, Kayland plans to double major in economics and international relations, and obtain a minor in Spanish. Her dream job is an international sports marketing manager in which she hopes to work for the Olympics or the Major League Soccer association.
Felipe De La Cruz
Access Youth Academy
Felipe De La Cruz, a rising senior at the Preuss School UCSD, has been in the Access Youth Academy program since the 8th grade. Felipe is an extremely involved and passionate student at his school. From President of the Poetry Club to President of the school’s Model United Nations club, Felipe enjoys literature and keeping up with global affairs, all while making meaningful relationships with his peers. At the young age of 16, Felipe took a U.S Squash Coaching Level 1 course where he became a certified coach under U.S Squash. As an aspiring lawyer and politician, Felipe is looking forward to the experiences he will gain from the 2017 Citizenship Tour.
Trina Madziwa is 16 years old from New York City. This fall she will be attending The Pomfret School, as a rising sophomore. Trina lives with her mom and two older sisters. She grew up in Zimbabwe for ten years before moving to New York. Having such a big move in her life has allowed her to be independent and hardworking. She enjoys talking to people, listening and playing music, and reading books. Trina also love hanging out with her friends and exploring parts of New York City that she’s never been to. Her favorite class in school is Global history because it involves critical thinking and exposes different perspectives of history in other countries. Additionally, she use to a part of dance and black student union in her school. Which served as an outlet for her to express herself whether that was through her voice or movement.
Trina joined Streetsquash is 2014, first as a summer camp student, then for the academic year. She joined StreetSquash because when she moved to America she stopped being active. Back in Zimbabwe, Trina used to swim, play tennis, and run cross country. StreetSquash was the first place in many years that I started to regain my athleticism. Since joining she has learned so many things beyond the squash court; how to work with teammates, how to be a team leader and even how to mentor younger teammates. Trina is looking forward to the Citizenship tour because she would like to learn more about different issues especially education reform and immigration policies.
Taija Covey was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She is a rising junior at the University of Chicago Charter School (UCW). Taija joined MetroSquash in 2015, as a freshman. She is hard working, always willing to help anyone, willing to work with anyone and is very competitive. All of her time is dedicated to developing her academic and squash skills. In her spare time, Taija enjoys spending time with my friends, reading books, coding, and sing.
Eric Penaloza was born and raised in Denver, Colorado with his younger brother and older sister. Eric has been a role model not only to his little brother but to his older sister as well, in sports to academics as well as many other ways. He started playing football at the age of 9, and then his love for sports was obvious. He continued to play throughout the years and as time passed he motivated his brother to join sports.
Before joining Impact360 in 7th grade, Eric hit a hard time in school. He struggled with turning in assignments and keeping up with his work. He knew he needed help and when he joined squash things turned for the better. Academically, he began to reach his full potential and with that he was accepted into CEC Early College of Denver and is a rising junior with a 3.7 GPA. Though he spends certain days at his mom’s house and certain days at his dad’s, he always makes squash a priority. Impact 360 and CEC have opened many doors and opportunities for Eric. For example, he has been able to travel to places he has never been (Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania) and has found a love for Exercise and Health science. He can see himself being either a police officer or an athletic trainer. With all the support Eric has with his family, friends, and Impact360 he can make it to places he never dreamed of.
My name is Christina Dixon. I am a rising senior at new Mission High School in Hyde Park, Massachusetts. I am raised by a single mother and live with her, my younger sister, and my grandmother. I joined SquashBusters Boston in 2013, my 7th grade year. I was awarded most improved and since then have moved up to be in the top 20 of the high school girls ladder this upcoming year. Academically, I enjoy math the most. I was put into a double seed math schedule of classes and am looking forward to taking AP AB Calculous my last year of high school. I also look forward to maintaining honor roll throughout the year and increasing my 3.97 GPA. I hope to go into accounting or business school post-secondary.
Raqiyah Morrow is 16 years old from Detroit Mi. She is a rising junior year at Henry Ford Academy. She is outgoing, fun, and funny! Loves hanging out with with her friends and family on her free time. Raqiyah is very family oriented and never passes up a chance to hang out with her brothers and sisters.
Raqiyah has been in Racquet Up since 2012 and has described it as being the best experience of my life. She’s been to places that she’d never thought of going, including Canada. Racquet Up has opened up so many doors for Raqiyah including being part of the Citizenship Tour could not be happier.
Colesto Williams is from the city of brotherly love. Throughout the past year, she spent an ample amount of time researching and conduction projects around what it means to be a citizen in the United States and what it means to be a member of a community. Through her research and projects, Colesto has been able to conclude that there are many aspects of life that contribute and redefine the meaning of citizen. Issues such as police brutality, immigration, sexism, etc. Realizing that in order to create a safer, more inclusive community for all these topics are things that need to be analyzed and discussed.
This year at the Citizenship Tour, Colesto hopes to be a voice among many in exploring and discovering ways to better help her community. She is looking forward to meeting with her soon to be Citizenship Tour peers as well as learning how to make a difference.
Racquet Up Detroit
Samantha Onwenu was born March 17 in the year 2000. She is a high school student at the number one high school in Detroit. Samantha has been playing squash for 7 years for Racquet Up Detroit. The first squash tournament that she ever won was the Metrosquash Chicago Style Open Bronze. She loves helping people as well as learning how to make movies. Her favorite color is blue and her favorite movie is The Breakfast Club.
Ariany Terrero is a 16 years old SquashBusters Boston student. She is excited about the Citizenship Tour because she gets a chance to speak on issues that concern her such as immigration, the president, and what actual views political leaders have on issues today. Activism is one thing she would like to know more about, and what leaders think are the best ways to get government attention. By the end of the tour she would like to bring to what she learned to her community back home.