15-LOVE introduced me to the sport of tennis that I truly enjoy, and I am very thankful for that. From all the 15-LOVE lessons and all the hitting with my older brother, Nithin, I was able to play Division I tennis at the University at Buffalo, and I continue to play in USTA men’s 4.5-5.0 leagues. I love exercising and after a long day from work, it’s a great way to relieve stress and have fun.
The biggest lesson I learned that I still apply in my life today is that it’s important to constantly analyze a situation and make adjustments on the fly in order to achieve success—whether I’m playing a match or while working in the pharmacy.
I spent 11 years in 15-LOVE, and though I’m not currently as involved as I would like to be, I do get updates from time to time from some of the staff members.
I now live in Fairfax, VA and work as a Pharmacist for Wegmans Pharmacy. I graduated from the University at Buffalo in 2007 with a Doctorate of Pharmacy. I became a first-time parent last year in October with the birth of our daughter, Ariya.
It’s been 8 years since I was a member of 15-LOVE’s Excellence Program. And 8 years later, I still consider 15-LOVE my family. The program helped shape my future, because I was taught by my coaches and teammates to never give up. I carried that trait throughout college and now my career. 15-LOVE meant more than just tennis to me. It raised me through my childhood and adolescent years. 15-LOVE’s College Prep Program also helped me apply, get accepted and receive a scholarship to college. I benefited from the program by gaining life-long friendships, life skills and, of course, a sport that I will always love. The game of tennis taught me honesty and the ability to stay competitive while being humble. If it wasn’t for 15-LOVE, I wouldn’t be as disciplined and focused as I am today.
I’ve been a part of the program since I was six years old. I was an active participant for 11 years and worked as a staff member throughout high school and college summers.
I live in the Washington, DC area and work as a Senior Accountant in a regional CPA firm, while also working towards a master’s degree.
I stay involved with 15-LOVE by helping with fundraisers, and I hope to do more as time goes on.
Lyndsi Holmes Wickert
In the 15-LOVE program I learned the value of community organizations in shaping a better future for young people. I also learned how to work and play with people from a variety of backgrounds. Throughout my work in schools and community organizations as an adult I have used these people skills as well as cultural sensitivity. I was involved in 15-LOVE from the time I was 13 to 22, some years as a participant and some years as an employee.
One summer when I was in the Excellence Program, we stopped at a rest station for dinner during a trip to New York City. I was sitting with three of my friends. One was African-American, while another was Hispanic and the other was Asian. I am white. While we were eating, an older couple came up to us and said it was so nice to see young people from different backgrounds enjoying each other’s company. I think that 15-LOVE spreads a lot of messages to its players, one of which is to be in a community with everyone whether they are from the same background as you or not.
This day proved that 15-LOVE accomplishes it goals. I also wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet these friends if I wasn’t involved in 15-LOVE.
I currently live in Troy and work as the youth transition coordinator for the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley in Troy.
There is no doubt that 15-LOVE has shaped my past, present and future in many ways, having been a participant and staff member for so many years, not to mention having my entire family involved with the program. I spent 17 years in the program, six of them as a staff member.
15-LOVE taught me the game of tennis, which taught me discipline, kept me active and out of trouble, introduced me to great people and helped me get into college. 15-LOVE also taught me life and leadership skills that have proven crucial not only in my academic endeavors but also my teaching career. Lastly, one of the most powerful gifts 15-LOVE has given me is igniting my passion for community service and social justice. This passion has been instrumental in my college development and success and subsequently my career goals and choices.
After graduating from Union College in 2010 I moved to Chicago to teach Middle School. I taught at Frazier Prep Academy on the West side of Chicago until 2015, while also earning my Master’s of Arts in Teaching. I recently began a Post-Baccalaureate program in order to start medical school in the fall of 2017.
15-LOVE instilled in me the importance of having an active and healthy lifestyle. I was involved in the program for about nine years. I think being able to play a sport that is so expensive and to travel to different cities was an excellent benefit for me. Learning how to work in a team setting is one skill that has helped in my current career.
My most memorable experience was getting to meet students
from different cultures. I also like that the program always had some of the nicest instructors; they took the time to get to know me and encourage me.
I graduated from Fashion Institute of Technology in 2004. While at FIT I studied abroad for two years at Polimoda School of Design and Marketing in Florence, Italy. After graduating design school I got a job in New York City as a men’s sweater designer. I have been married for seven years and have two daughters ages five and 21 months. I now live in White Plains. I will always be a part of the 15-LOVE family.
Amber’s Note: Onika designed and made my wedding gown. I would drive down to NYC with her younger sister, Kendra, for design, purchasing materials, and fittings. That time was so precious to me.
The 15-LOVE program helped to shape my future by preparing me for life in general. It gave me a better understanding of what it’s like to work hard for what you want in life.
I benefited from 15-LOVE in so many ways. It allowed me to play Division I and Division III tennis in college. It also allowed me to travel to different states to compete in tennis tournaments and take part in tennis camps. In addition, 15-LOVE gave me the opportunity to meet people with similar interests.
During my 11 years with 15-LOVE as both a participant and staff member, I learned how to be a better person and not focus on what others think of me. I struggled with low self-esteem before joining the program, and 15-LOVE played a major part in my overcoming that obstacle. I applied this situation to my everyday life by explaining my situation to others who were dealing with the same issues I dealt with when I was growing up.
15-LOVE also taught me a very important life fact: nothing comes easy in this world. You have to work hard for it. I try to apply this mentality to my everyday life as much as possible. It can sometimes be very challenging when things are not going in your favor, but I have learned you don’t give up because things are not working the way you would like them to.
After graduating from the University at Buffalo in 2006, I remained in Buffalo and have been working in the healthcare field. I stay in touch with 15-LOVE staff via social media, phone and email.