YONKERS, NY -- On Tuesday, May 24th STEER held its 8th annual Graduation Banquet. The evening celebrated the 10th Anniversary of STEER and brought together student-athletes, families, community partners, and STEER advisors from five different schools. Within Port Chester, Yonkers, and the Bronx, STEER serves students in Port Chester Middle School, Port Chester High School, Palisade Preparatory School, Charter School of Educational Excellence (CSEE), and Careers in Sports High School.
The evening began with introductions of the 46 student-athletes onboarded this school year. From CSEE, eight new STEER students, seven new STEER students from Palisade Prep, and thirty-one new STEER students from Port Chester schools.
Following these introductions, Dr. Hector Morales-Negron, Director of Peak Mental Game, recognized student-athletes that have completed levels 1 through 4 certifications from the Peak Mental Game program. Additionally, the top 10 highest performing PMG students and advisors were awarded gifts, prizes, and PMG-STEER swag.
The night went on to honor two members of the STEER community that has made significant contributions toward supporting STEER student-athletes this school year. The Humanitarian Awards were presented to Emily Kennan and Rachel Felenstein. Emily has worked with STEER this school year to supply sports equipment to our students, as well as connecting STEER to the Rye Big Give to provide students and families with holiday gift bags. Rachel works with Soul Ryeders to provide personalized resources, innovative programs, and community support to anyone in the New York Tri-State area impacted by any type of cancer. Rachel partnered with our STEER students to create fleece blankets and inspiration journals for cancer patients.
This year’s Byron Womack Awards for Excellence were awarded to four outstanding STEER Advisors: Laura Vushaj from Palisade Prep, Jeanine Maiolini from Port Chester, Paul Lopez from CSEE, and Joe Flucus from Careers in Sports High School. These four advisors have demonstrated their extraordinary commitment in going above and beyond to support student-athletes as well as their fellow STEER advisors.
At the center of the night’s highlights was STEER’s Class of 2022. This year’s class of fourteen seniors was comprised of students from both Port Chester and Careers in Sports High Schools. The following students graduated from the STEER program at last night’s event: Grad #83 Luis Alvarez of Port Chester (Attending SUNY Westchester), Grad #84 Sebastian Alvarez of Port Chester (Attending SUNY Cortland), Grad #85 Josselinne Ayavaca of Port Chester (Attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Grad #86 Britany Bautista (Attending SUNY Westchester), Grad #87 Brayan Coyt of Port Chester (Attending SUNY Westchester), Grad #88 Danny Davis of Port Chester (Attending Alfred State College), Grad #89 Isaiah Dempson of Port Chester (Attending Alfred State College), Grad #90 Nasir Faulknor of Careers in Sports High School (Attending University of Buffalo), Grad #91 Ashley Garcia of Port Chester (Attending Univeristy of Connecticut), Grad #92 Taylor Martin of Port Chester (Attending Morgan State University), Grad #93 Osvaldo Martinez of Careers in Sports High School (Attending Fordham University), Grad #94 Alex Morocho of Port Chester (Attending Mercy College), Grad #95 Byron Olmino of Port Chester (Attending SUNY Delhi), and Grad #96 Christian Torres of Port Chester (Attending American International College). The seniors were honored in traditional STEER fashion by receiving their alumni jackets.
Closing out the evening was the fourth annual awarding of Byron Womack scholarships through the Byron Womack Scholarship Fund. The Byron Womack Scholarship Fund was established in honor of the legacy and life work of STEER’s late executive director, Byron Womack. The fund serves to further support our student-athletes by providing scholarships for their higher education pursuits and expanding programming opportunities for them during their time enrolled in the program. Six scholarships were presented by STEER Alumni Ceci Martinez, Nani Velasquez, Rayder Sanchez, and Kim Reyes, to members of STEER’s graduating class of 2022. Josselinne Ayavaca (Port Chester) and Osvaldo Martinez (Careers in Sports) were announced as winners of the Byron Womack Academic Scholarship, Byron Olmino (Port Chester) and Nasir Faulknor (Careers in Sports) were announced as winners of the Byron Womack Leadership Scholarship, and Britany Bautista (Port Chester) and Ashley Garcia (Port Chester) were announced as winners of the Byron Womack Community Service Scholarship.
Congratulations to STEER’s Class of 2022!
Britani Griffin is a Major Gifts Officer for Cornell University. In this role, Britani works with Cornell’s philanthropic leaders on their support of scholarship, academic research and key University priorities. Prior to Cornell, Britani was a Development Director at the Be The Match Foundation/National Marrow Donor Program. A believer in lifelong learning, Britani is an Associate Instructor in Columbia’s School of Professional Studies. Britani previously worked at the Port Chester Carver Center and Columbia University’s Office of Alumni Affairs and Development.
Britani received her Bachelor of Arts in African American and African Studies from the University of Virginia. She also holds a Masters of Science in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University.
Susan currently works at the Fund for the City of New York, where she manages partner projects that aim to improve the lives of community members. She holds a B.A. in English from UCLA, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and a teaching credential in Secondary English Literature from the University of San Diego, and a doctorate in education from NYU Steinhardt’s School of Culture, Education, and Human Development in the Leadership and Innovation program. Her doctoral research focused on affecting sustainable and scalable change at educational institutions through the implementation of policies and programming that would further support the academic, social, and emotional development of adolescent girls of color.
Susan has served as a researcher and school administrator and has extensive experience in program design and development, particularly with programs aimed to maximize opportunities for underrepresented community members. In her experience as an educator, she prioritized a student-centered approach through culturally responsive pedagogy in order to better meet the needs of her individual students and their families. Her passion for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging coupled with her determination to provide equitable opportunities for youth has prompted Susan to identify barriers specifically for girls and build solution-based strategies grounded in research through her own non-profit organization, Advancing Girls.
We are so proud of our STEER Student Support Administrators Dejeana Peoples and Montserrat Cardenas as they support and empower our young women and girls!