We are excited to introduce the young women and men from New Rochelle High School who have been admitted to the first class of Quaker Ridge Golf Club Fellows for the summer of 2021.
In their applications, these students said they were eager to work with mentors and learn more about educational and career opportunities. All of the students have an academic interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as well as in the arts – music, theater, photography and communication.
The fellows also shared their perspectives on making the world a better place, exploring and honing leadership skills, and developing personal strength and resilience. They are excited to meet the members of the Quaker Ridge Golf Club while working on their golf and tennis skills and making new friends.
The 2021 Quaker Ridge Golf Club Fellows are:
- Brittney Benjamin
- Shana Belfast
- Alexander Ciriaco
- Luis Gonzalez
- Darrin Greaves II
- Denver Matthews
- Ellis Renwick-Archibold
Brittney Benjamin is a graduating senior at New Rochelle High School. She has studied honors Mandarin Chinese, Algebra and four years of Science Research.
Brittney is looking forward to “receiving opportunities to learn and mature through the Quaker Ridge Fellows Program.” She is very interested in STEM and has not only benefitted from being around other female scientists but also by mentoring a “seventh grade Yemeni girl named Sarah who did not enjoy science because she would always struggle,” Brittney wrote. “But by the end of our time together, Sarah won first place in Chemistry at a local science fair.”
Brittney would tell her future self “not to undermine her capabilities because she might never know what other lives she could improve.” She concluded her thoughts by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Almost always the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.”
This summer Brittney is interning with Chef Joseph Day.
Shana Belfast is a graduating senior at New Rochelle High School and studies Dance, Vocal Music, and Musical Theater along with her high school core classes.
In 2019, Shana published her memoir – “Colors Beyond Clouds: A Journey Through the Social Life of a Girl on the Autism Spectrum” – which has been recommended by Marie Myung-Ok Lee, a writer in residence at Columbia University, in Your Teen magazine. Shana has participated in book readings and is volunteering with the Westchester Institute for Human Development’s Self Advocates Network to promote acceptance of neurodiversity.
As Shana wrote, these experiences “give me the opportunity to reach more people with my message and an opportunity to change perceptions.” Shana says she would tell her future self “to seek out everyone’s voice, even though they are different from mine. I would tell her to keep looking for new opportunities and be open-minded.”
Shana is passionate about social-emotional and nutritional well-being, embracing “whole person” health and experiencing firsthand the healing properties of physical movement through dance, tennis or running. She is an award-winning singer and placed third at Omega Psi Phi’s regional talent competition at Delaware State University for her performance of “Waiting for Life to Begin” from the musical Once on This Island. She recently performed in New Rochelle High School’s production of the musical “Is There Life After High School?”
Shana looks forward to “engaging with people in a positive way to understand different perspectives” and to “having experiences to help develop her career goals,” which include majoring in either Psychology or the Health Sciences.
This summer Shana is interning with J.P. McConnell.
Alexander Ciriaco is a sophomore at New Rochelle High School who is studying AP World History, AP Physics 1, French, Musical Theatre and Honors Algebra.
Alexander enjoys “discussing politics and debating world history” and wants to pursue a career in medicine. He said that these educational experiences will help shape his goals of becoming a doctor and a scientist. For Alexander, scientific research is a foundation to learning, and he is excited to return to the classroom next year because that is “where he learns best.” He looks forward to taking Pre-Calculus, AP Biology and Economics, and to continuing with World History. He says that he also “loves creating digital art, watching anime, playing video games, and hanging out with my family and my dogs, Echo and Princess.”
Alexander puts his family first, and “church and education are non-negotiables in our house.” He has suffered the loss of both his father and grandmother. His father, Carlixto Julian Ciriaco, was a professional caddy, and Alexander’s father and uncle, Tio Jose, made sure that Alexander learned how to play golf. Alexander’s grandmother suffered respiratory problems, and he helped her by “doing simple chores to make her comfortable.” Five years ago, Alexander’s father died from a heart attack. He wrote that the only thing he can take away from these “painful experiences is that they make me stronger, committed and determined.” Alexander says that “keeping his dad’s legacy alive and fulfilling his grandma’s dreams for him” means he “strives to do his best, every day.”
As a Fellow, Alexander would like to strengthen his “communication, team-building, leadership and soft skills.” He thinks “it will be fun learning together with other teenagers and meeting new friends.”
This summer Alexander is interning with Erika Mehnert and Tom Ashfield.
Luis Gonzalez is a sophomore at New Rochelle High School who has a “passion for math and science” and is studying Pre-AP Mandarin, AP Calculus BC, AP Physics 1 and Computer Graphics. He pursues rigorous study “to build his endurance and confidence.” In all he undertakes, Luis “always strives for a more challenging and better future.”
He wrote in his essays that music is a “large part of what helps me get through tough times.” He composes his own songs and plays piano and guitar and finds that music transports him “to a world of instruments coming together in harmony.” He recognizes that excelling at music requires “both a good ear and good hand-eye coordination, and that being able to read and understand music is a life-long skill.”
Luis would like to build a career in music but realizes that a path focused entirely on music might limit his choices. He is exploring, instead, how music could be integrated into his future profession as a way to reflect both his “passion and his analytical mindset.” He believes that focus and passion need to be “forever in his arsenal to draw strength from,” regardless of where his life takes him.
This summer Luis is interning with J.P. McConnell.
Darrin Greaves II
Darrin Greaves II is a sophomore at New Rochelle High School who studies Mandarin, Pre-Calculus, Advanced Chemistry, Honors Physics, Algebra II and World History. He began attending the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) program in sixth grade and writes that the experience “has taught him both independence and how to communicate at a young age, as well as how to interact and live with people from different cultures and backgrounds.” That, he says, gives him “the greatest sense of responsibility.”
Darrin started learning Mandarin in sixth grade and developed his skills by communicating with Chinese students in his dorm at Johns Hopkins. Darrin says his time in the dorm helped him “learn how to defuse conflict and work collaboratively.” He points to the importance of communication skills in expressing “his ideas and feelings” while also understanding “the emotions and thoughts of others.”
“I would tell my future self about the importance of communication, remaining focused and continuing to learn new things,” he wrote. “I would remind myself that life has so much to offer and it’s important to be true to myself, be moral and treat people how I would like to be treated. There is a big world outside of New Rochelle, and you should continue to explore it.”
Darrin has a keen interest in science and in marine biology, with a “love for the environment and how the ecosystem works.” He plans to major in marine biology and wants to “explore the seas in his future life.” Darrin also wants to explore how to help oceans get healthy, reversing coral reef extinctions and plastic pollution, while investigating elusive species. “Biologists must have a plethora of skills to be able to succeed in the field,” he says.
This summer Darrin is interning with Mario Guerra and Heather Peterson.
Denver Matthews is a ninth grader at New Rochelle High School and is studying Earth Science, Honors Geometry, Spanish, and Studio Photography. He is currently in a mentoring program, Kappa League, which “helps young boys develop through seven programmatic phases: Self Identity, training, discipline, appearance, competition, self-assurance and preparation.”
Denver currently serves as the Vice President for his high school group. He wrote: “One of the most memorable experiences for me was this year’s leadership conference, where Kappa Leaguers from all over the Northeastern region came together to have conversations about leadership.” He said the experience allowed him to “connect with other boys his age and learn new things.” He was also inspired by a presentation by a billionaire who spoke about the power of entrepreneurship.
Denver has a keen interest in STEM both academically and as a career focus. He appreciates how another experience, the Iona Step Summer Program, helped him get a head start on his classes for his first year of high school. Being mentored means a lot to Denver because he wants to “continue to grow and enhance his leadership skills and be assisted and guided by his mentors to make good decisions.”
Denver “loves sports and what they teach.” Through sports, Denver has learned how to “handle competition, have discipline, teamwork and good character.” He is interested in connecting STEM/STEAM to tennis and golf and in the workshops on college preparation. He also hopes to contribute his own leadership skills to the Fellows Program. Denver is “attentive and engaged” and is all about setting examples of discipline, responsibility, kindness and respect, as well as being supportive of others.
This summer Denver is interning with Mario Guerra and Heather Peterson.
Ellis Renwick-Archibold is in his first year at New Rochelle High School and is studying Spanish, Sculpture, the Living Environment and Pre-Science Research. He is interested in STEM and participated in a summer camp in 2019 that was sponsored by the BEAM Center of Brooklyn, where he designed and built his own drone.
He feels that mentoring is very important from this experience and wants to continue to build one-on-one connections with people to learn about what “they’ve studied in school or about their job.” He would “love to know that someone is there if I have questions and could check in on me.”
“It would be really nice to learn from someone else, another Black teen or Black male adult,” he said.
Ellis’s educational and career interests include “animal science, technology and building and construction – the way things are made.” He has planned, designed and built ships from Legos and is curious to learn things from “random questions” like: “Does a blue whale get cold when it exits the water for air, like I do when I get out of the pool?” or “How many light receptors does a rainbow shrimp have?”
Ellis has an interest in pursuing veterinary science and feels that he is sometimes better connected to “animals than to people” and is inspired by “weird and interesting things” about ecosystems. He likes comparing species in the same category and seeing similarities and differences in body structures. By the end of 2021, he hopes to milk a cow.
This summer Ellis is interning with Chef Joe Day.