Looking back to my time as a participant and as a member of the staff, there are countless ways in which 15-LOVE has given direction to my life as well as provided guidance for my future. From my time as a participant, things like long- lasting friendships, opportunities to communicate and be involved with the community, and valuable life lessons are just a few areas where I have benefited. From my time as part of the staff, public speaking, instilling a sense of mission, and acclimation to employment life are a few other areas to which I otherwise never would have been so successfully exposed.
However, the most significant aspect that I commend the program for is helping instill in me a sense of relativity. As an adolescent, it helped me relate my life to others and make more conscious decisions every day. This has manifested itself on a larger scale with every aspect of my adult life, as well as giving me the direction to pursue a philanthropic career. Without this valuable sense, it’s impossible to imagine where I would be heading today. I live in Schenectady, and in the fall of 2016 will be starting to pursue my Master’s in Economics with a focus on Philanthropic Studies.
I have been involved in 15-LOVE for 24 years. I started as a participant and am now Program Director. I learned a lot through participating in 15-LOVE, above all the leadership skills that I still use every day. I have had many memorable experiences with this organization. In particular, when the new building was purchased I remember looking back at how small of a space we had when I was 12, and what we currently provide to our kids and families. This makes me happy—the fact that we have developed our mission more and more, year after year.
15-LOVE helped me both as an individual and as a team player. In 12 years of participating and coaching, it has helped to develop my self-confidence both on and off the court through programs and events like the College Prep Program and Leadership Weekend. While I may have started off shy and reserved, I eventually grew to truly be myself around my peers and coaches in the program. And by allowing me to be a coach for the future kids of the program, 15-LOVE has helped to foster my communication, leadership and team work skills. As a participant and coach, I have encountered people of all different ethnicities, backgrounds, socio-economic statuses and abilities. My experiences in this program have most importantly taught me to be patient, compassionate and accepting of diversity and differences.
One very memorable experience (so memorable that I wrote about it for my personal statement for medical school applications) was being a coach to Mish. I remember when he started the program he would walk over to Michigan Avenue in Schenectady with his cousin who would babysit him during the day. He was extremely shy and quiet when he started the program, but as the weeks progressed he relaxed and became much more social. Perhaps it was because I could relate to his initial hesitation to open up that I found him to be one of my favorite students. As time passed, he would hang around after lessons a little bit longer to talk with us coaches and have a few laughs. To see Mish today as a participant in the Excellence Program means a lot to me. To have been a small part of his development as a player and an individual is a great feeling.
I graduated from Binghamton University with degrees in Economics and Biology, and recently started Medical School at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
I was very fortunate to be involved in 15-LOVE for 14 years, as a participant and instructor. I started the program when I was 10 years old. 15-LOVE has taught me to give back and really help out those who are less fortunate. Even though I came from a more well-to-do background than most, I appreciated every second I spent as a member of the 15-LOVE family. 15-LOVE brought meaning to having strong friendships and family, as well as shaping participants to become productive members of society. Most importantly, I continue to develop and shape the life skills and values that I learned from 15-LOVE as I strive to become a professional.
I recently received my Associate Degree in Chemistry/Liberal Arts and Sciences at SUNY Cobleskill. I am currently in my last year at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences studying to become a Doctor of Pharmacy.
I try to stay involved with 15-LOVE by attending some of the practices and helping out the participants.
I learned many different things from 15-LOVE, and they all have contributed to the person I am today. Although 15-LOVE taught me tennis on the courts, I think the most useful things I learned were during the off-court sessions and time spent with instructors and peers. I learned to be a team player, supportive and kind to others. I learned morals and etiquette; I learned how to shake hands with others and look people in the eye. 15-LOVE opened the world of higher education to me and even taught me the importance of having good credit.
My big brother participated in the program, and I was allowed to watch and help pick up balls before there was a Tiny Tots program.
I participated from the age of 5 to 19. 15-LOVE gave me my first job as an instructor when I turned 16 years old.
I currently live in Albany, where I work as a Labor & Delivery Nurse at Albany Medical Center.
Anyone who has been around long enough will say that I have been involved in 15-LOVE since I was in diapers. I was a participant for about 18 years, a volunteer for many summers and a staff member for about 5 years.
15-LOVE has helped me in many ways. From providing a familial support system to helping me learn how to problem solve, there is so much I learned from 15-LOVE that I’m still applying to my life on a daily basis. I believe some of the biggest lessons I took from 15-LOVE were to never apologize for being who you are and to never succumb to peer pressure.
Often times we want to be liked by others so we’ll do anything to gain that adulation. With 15-LOVE, there was never an expectation to be anyone other than who I was and who I had the potential to be. Every day I am growing, and everything I do is for me, not because I want people to perceive me to be a certain way.
I’m also proud to say that at 23-years-old I’ve never had an alcoholic drink or smoked, despite many friends who have tried (and still do) to get me to forsake my beliefs and give into these societal norms.
In 2013, I graduated from Syracuse University with a B.A. in Communication and Rhetorical Studies and a minor in Marketing. Currently, I am a law student at Syracuse University College of Law pursuing a joint-degree with a Master’s in New Media Management out of S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
During the last year, while I have not been so active in tennis, I began Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, Muay Thai, and Boxing. I plan to start my career as a manager (sports agent) for MMA Fighters.
Mentorship is key in life. So many individuals have potential but have never met the right person to get the boulder rolling down the hill.
15-LOVE was that nudge for me.
My most memorable experience during my seven years in the program was a winter practice led by Nathan Zach. I had hit a wall with my backhand stroke. It was my “go-to move” on the court. Nathan took the one-on-one time to help me adjust my stance. The results were immediate. The bigger lesson that I learned is that you can dig deep to improve with only small adjustments. It is the little things that matter more than you expect. (He also granted me the nickname
I currently live in Lufkin, TX. Trips back to Troy are few and far in between. However, my third stop is always the 15-LOVE office (coming in behind only my parents and real pizza). I also like to look up 15-LOVE alumni when I travel.
I work for GE Oil & Gas as a Warehouse Manager after finishing
the company’s Operations Management Leadership Program (OMLP). I look forward to one day being part of the Capital Region’s growing STEM sector and racking up some more volunteer hours with 15-LOVE.
My brother and I both joined the program in the summer of 1994 after our mom collected a 15-LOVE flyer in the library. I am very grateful for many lifelong friendships and tennis training opportunities I gained through my experiences with 15-LOVE. We would most likely not have had the same level of opportunities on our own. I was grateful to train with top caliber tennis coaches and travel for junior tournaments with the ambition to play at the collegiate level. It was fulfilling to achieve this goal and represent my school in the NCAA Division III national team tournament. I also enjoyed my summer experiences as a 15-LOVE instructor, having the opportunity to teach tennis and pass down all the things I learned from my coaches.
Tennis requires a lot of practice and repetition, and my experiences enabled me to develop many skills that transitioned to college and later into professional life. Today, I prepare the same way for a big job assignment as I would for a big match. Winning matches and hitting the perfect ground stroke or serve was always important to me, but I also learned the greater value of developing discipline, concentration and showing poise under pressure.
My wife and I currently live in a suburb of Philadelphia. After my initial years in manufacturing in the chemical industry, I pursued a part-time MBA at Drexel University. After graduating in 2012,
I soon segued into product management, followed by a promotion to a business strategy role. I now work as a Senior Business Manager in Operations Strategy for SABIC Innovative Plastics and have enjoyed using my engineering background and business skills to develop and implement business strategy. It has been fun to travel all over the world and be able to experience different cultures and business etiquette, while working with amazing colleagues.
I am proud to serve on the 15-LOVE Advisory Board. I try to attend Fore Love and Money whenever I can.