Squash Haven’s Rafiatou Ouro-Aguy Wins
William E. Simon Jr. Leadership & Service Award
Rafiatou Ouro-Aguy, a graduate of Squash Haven and a senior at Hamilton College, has been selected as this year’s recipient of SEA’s William E. Simon, Jr. Service & Leadership Award. The William E. Simon, Jr. Service & Leadership Award gives one graduating college student per year the opportunity to travel abroad and volunteer for an international affiliate of SEA. Rafi has selected to travel next July to SEA’s South African international affiliate program, Egoli Squash, located in Johannesburg. Rafi was motivated to apply due to her passion for “giving back, especially since so many have sacrificed so much for me to be where I am.” Why South Africa? “The country has always interested me because of the complexity of its history… it seems like a place I would never get tired of exploring and learning about,” Rafi explains.
The award was established in honor of SEA’s founding board chair, Bill Simon, and aims to highlight the importance of leadership and service, deepen ties between squash and education programs in the United States and abroad, and provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an urban squash graduate. Each SEA member program was permitted to nominate one graduating college student.
Squash Haven’s Executive Director Julie Greenwood has known Rafi since she joined the New Haven program in ninth grade, after her family immigrated from Togo. “I have worked with exceptional young people throughout my career,” Greenwood reflects. “Rafi is among the most inspiring I have encountered in every way.”
Rafi is a Dean’s List student at Hamilton majoring in French , a top player on the Hamilton varsity squash team, a sorority member, and the recipient of Hamilton’s Distinguished Woman of Color Award as a sophomore. Rafi spent her junior year abroad at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, where she fully immersed herself in the culture. An avid reader, Rafi has spent two summers as a publishing intern, first at Simon and Schuster and this past summer at Hachette. Rafi hopes to spend additional time abroad after graduation and is currently applying to international fellowships.
Rafi is eagerly looking forward to her trip abroad. “This opportunity allows me to continue working with individuals who are as passionate about squash as I am and who believe in its ability to open doors. I’m unbelievably eager to expand my network among the international squash community, and form long lasting relationships. There is no doubt that this summer will be the best one yet!”