This Q&A has been edited and condensed.
What is your major and when do you expect to graduate?
I’m majoring in Management at the Smith School and I’m minoring in Sociology. I’m also in the College Park Scholars-International Studies Program and I’m set to graduate in Spring 2024.
What is your job title and where do you work?
I’m the Founder and President of Game Changers New York(GCNY), based in Syosset, New York
What does a day in your role look like and how do you approach new projects?
No day at Game Changers is the same. It’s a combination of managing various facets of the organization and ensuring that everything is running smoothly. I oversee the Board of Directors, the volunteer network, the partner organization database and dedicated donors.
I love getting emails from people I don’t know. It’s quite thrilling and I love opening new doors and expanding GCNY. My goal is to find a way to work with everyone who reaches out to us in some capacity.
Is there something about your professional journey that people would find surprising?
I think the fact that I started GCNY in 2016 when I was a sophomore in high school, and it was incorporated as a 501(c)3 by the start of 2017, when I was 17 is shocking for some people and sometimes even for me when I look back at it. At the time, I didn’t realize we would grow to be as big as we are today and that I’d have incredible relationships within the various facets of the organizations with whom we work.
In 2016 we simply started a sports equipment drive, and today we have countless volunteers that go into their own communities to host Game Changers Sports Equipment Collections for those communities. We’ve donated tens of thousands of pieces of sports equipment to over 95 partner organizations in 15 countries around the world, impacting countless numbers of children.
Are you where you thought you would be in your career? What are your goals?
If I could go back and ask my 17-year-old self if this is where I thought I would be, I would think it’s far above and beyond what I ever could have imagined. Today I would say there is always room for growth. We are constantly integrating new methods, systems, and projects into our work. A big part of what I’m learning to incorporate into the 501(c)3 is what I’ve learned in my Smith School classes.
I’d like to give a special shout-out to Professor Karake and her teaching assistant Khiem Doan for their guidance and encouragement of my running Game Changers. Professor Karake had incredibly thoughtful insights about information systems at the nonprofit, and we became a more tech-savvy organization because of what I learned in her classroom.
What Smith School resources or relationships did you leverage for your career?
Last year, I became involved with Smith’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and the University of Maryland School of Public Policy’s Do Good Institute.
How has your Smith education helped you with your career? Were there specific classes, experiential projects, team projects, or internships that have been especially helpful to you?
I loved my finance class last semester. Honestly, I always dreaded the idea of being in a finance class. I didn’t think it was for me and thought I’d struggle with the coursework, but when I took the class I really liked it and ultimately aced the material.
Why did you decide to get a business degree and why did you choose Maryland Smith?
I wanted to learn from professionals with years of experience. Although my family has been extremely positive and influenced the way I think about and pursue my career, I wanted to attain classroom learning as well. I wanted to be at Smith since it’s a hardworking, collaborative environment where all students and faculty are committed to the success of one another.
What about your personal journey has led to your success?
Without the outpouring of support from my family, friends and the communities with which I’m affiliated, I wouldn’t have accomplished half of what I have. I’m eternally grateful for every person who has inspired me and encouraged me in my journey. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true.
Also, I can’t overstate how gratifying it is to receive the positive feedback from the recipients of our sports equipment around the globe. Seeing the photos they send of the children whose lives we impact is incredibly motivating.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Learn more about Game Changers New York at www.GameChangersNY.org.
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