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The Next Generation of Leaders Start Here

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

A couple weeks ago, we had the opportunity to sit down with a young leader in the town of Plymouth named Yaxsarie. Her story is already pretty incredible, but it's just getting started. 

Tell us a little about yourself before we got to know you here at the Y.

Well, I was born in Puerto Rico and lived there until I was five years old. At that point my mom took me and my brothers and sisters to New York City. We experienced a lot of instability during our time there, and ended up moving around quite a bit. Our last move was to Plymouth when I was 11, and we’ve been here ever since.

And what are you up to now?

I’m entering my senior year at Plymouth North High School, so that’s pretty exciting. I would love to have the opportunity to attend college out of state, so I’m starting to look at schools now. I think I’d like to study Psychology, but a lot can happen between now and then so you never know.

When did you begin working for the Y?

A few years ago I began working in the Y’s afterschool program here in Plymouth. This summer I’m working again at a Y program named Power Scholars as an enrichment leader, which has been a great experience so far. And last year, I was actually asked to be on the Plymouth Y’s Board of Governors, which is really cool. I’ve learned a lot from the other board members.

Could you tell us a little more about Power Scholars?

Absolutely. Power Scholars is geared toward elementary school kids who are referred to the Y by the school. These are kids who could easily fall behind academically, so the program is really focused on improving math and literacy skills. They spend their mornings in the classroom, and then participate in really fun enrichment activities in the afternoon. That’s where I come in. We do arts and crafts, play games under the big rainbow parachute, play sports, and tons of other stuff.

It must be rewarding to help kids who may be in a similar position as you were when you were that age.

Definitely. The program gives kids, especially kids from low-income families, an opportunity to access programs that might normally be out of reach. If I had the opportunity to go to a program like this when I was little, I would have been grateful today.

We heard you recently won some awards, is that right?

You saw that? Yes, I started a leadership club called Leaders in New Connections (LINC) at my school, and I was nominated for the Outstanding Citizenship Award from the town’s Plymouth No Place for Hate Committee by one of my counselors. And now the Y’s Summer Leaders program, which is for kids entering 9th grade, is able to feed right into the LINC program at the high school. There are so many young people my age doing amazing things in the community, so it was really humbling to be given the award.

We know you don’t want to list everything, but you’ve been really active in the Plymouth community for a while now. It seems like your name is in the news every few months! If it’s OK with you, we’ll list some of your other achievements at the bottom of this interview.

I guess that’s fine. I really just feel like I have a lot to give and while I’m able to, I want to do everything I can to help people.

That’s a great attitude. There are a lot of people at the Y and throughout the community who admire the work you’re doing and the person you’re becoming. We appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today.

Thank you so much, but I do have to get back to the classroom!


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Yaxsarie’s work in the community includes:

  • As part of her leadership group LINC, she’s mentored elementary school students, donated a bookshelf made by the school along with books to the South Shore Women’s Resource Center, and conducted workshops for the club on topics like healthy relationships and diversity.
  • Received YMCA Youth Conference Core Values Award.
  • Runs the Community Center at Algonquin Heights.
  • Interns and volunteers for her church.
  • Addressed 1,000 teachers at Plymouth Public School’s opening day event.
  • As part of Healthy Plymouth, sorted 600+ winter coats for individuals and families in need.
Plymouth North High School Sophomore Yaxsarie Velasquez discusses an inspirational meeting and how it changed her outlook.