97 Urban Squash Students
Begin College Journey 

On college campuses across the country, 97 of our most recent high school graduates are settling into their first few months of college. These first-years bring the total number of college students enrolled this fall to 386, an all-time record for the urban squash movement. “My first couple months at UC Berkeley have proven to me that all of my hard work was absolutely worth it,” reflected Felicia Jordan, a graduate of Access Youth Academy in San Diego. “I have been able to meet a variety of amazing people, gain an abundance of freedom and individuality, and deeply explore the field of work I hope to eventually go into.”

This year’s cohort hails from 11 of our 19 member programs. Among other schools, students are enrolled at Cornell, Bates, Haverford, Hobart and William Smith, Mount Holyoke, Penn, St. Lawrence, UC Berkeley, and the U.S. Naval Academy. The Twin Cities’ Beyond Walls sent their first class of students to college this year, an exciting milestone for the program. “Being able to be a part of the evolution of our high schools seniors as they all transitioned into a 4-year university was truly an impactful moment,” reflected Beyond Walls Executive Director Jazmin Danielson. “In graduating this first class, we’ve recognized the value of relationships and making sure our students have the skills and confidence they need to be successful and believe in themselves.”

Click here for the full list of the colleges attended by urban squashers since our first graduating class of 2002.

From adjusting to new independence and more rigorous courses to navigating the college social scene, our urban squash first-years have two months of college life experience to report on. We touched base with a few of our students to hear their reflections on their time on campus so far!

Tiffany Cervantes, Bates College
Graduate of Squash Haven, New Haven
I would summarize my first month at college as having felt like an eternity! This is actually a good thing because I had long days scheduled with activities and classes and doing things on my own, leaving my mind distracted from thinking about missing home. Looking back now, I’m surprised it’s only been a month and a half.

Dubois Stewart, University of Pennsylvania
Graduate of SquashSmarts, Philadelphia
My first month was eye opening, fun and stressful. I was always told the learning curve was steep but I had to experience it for myself to believe it. Having grown up in Philadelphia, living 5 minutes at most from friends and family is a great feeling.

The one lesson I’ve learned already is that free time is a myth in college. Though you have less classes and you have your own schedule, the combined workload from classes, clubs, and sports teams makes it difficult to find downtime to do anything else!

Felicia Jordan, UC Berkeley
Graduate of Access Youth Academy, San Diego

My first couple months of college has proven to me that all of my hard work was absolutely worth it. Not only have I been able to meet a variety of amazing people and gain an abundance of freedom and individuality, but I have also been able to deeply explore the work field I will eventually go into in the (hopefully near) future. I have felt so inspired and motivated at the University of California, Berkeley, and I know that my experience will only improve from here.

Move-in day was the first time I had ever stepped foot onto campus, so I was extremely nervous in terms of not liking it. Fortunately, I was surprised by how quickly I fell in love with it. The nature, architecture, and surrounding neighborhood were all key components for my rapid admiration of UC Berkeley. However, the people were what truly made me fall in love with my school. From my roommates and classmates to my professors and even total strangers, most of the people I have encountered are extremely friendly and genuine people. I am still surprised everyday by all of the generosity present on campus.

This year, I look forward to all of the relationships I will continue to make — friendly and professionally, because, at the end of the day, my college experience will be nothing without all of the people who come in and out of my life. The University of California, Berkeley has been treating me so well, and I know I made the right decision of where to spend the next four years of my life.