StreetSquash has added an additional three employees to its staff to core departments within the organization.
Brittni Ortiz, is our newest College Access & Transition Coordinator. KhatSaRa Bediako is an Academic Coordinator, and Joanne Schickerling joins StreetSquash as an Assistant Squash Professional.
In her role as College Access and Transition Coordinator, Brittni will be helping students in their transition after high school. That may include searching for and applying to colleges, helping navigate the student loan process, or working with students to find the right path if they feel the college route isn’t for them.
A native of the South Bronx, Brittni graduated from the City College of New York with a degree in Psychology with minors in Anthropology and Art History. For the past four years, Brittni served in a college access role with Student Leadership Network, where she served as an intern.
StreetSquash saw Brittni’s resume on Indeed and reached out to her.
“I started researching the organization and I saw all the amazing things that were being done for the students here and I knew that I had to be a part of it,” Brittni said. “I had never seen a sports education program provide as many services as we do.”
Growing up Brittni considered pursuing pediatrics or becoming a physician assistant. But she says she’s pleased with the path she’s chosen.
Brittni says she loves karaoke so that beautiful voice you hear as you pass by the nearest karaoke bar could be her!
As Academic Coordinator, KhatSaRa will help facilitate student workshops, cater to specific student needs, inspire positive reinforcement behavior models, and schedule regular check ins with students and their caregivers.
KhatSaRa grew up in Brooklyn and went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Iona College. She received a Master’s in Government and Politics from St. John’s University.
She has an extensive background in youth enrichment. Throughout her time at Iona College she frequently volunteered at the Alliance of Families for Justice, where she worked to bridge the gap between marginalized communities and the justice system. She also served as a campaign field intern for a political candidate helping to facilitate various youth programs.
KhatSaRa learned about StreetSquash while researching nonprofits that provide resources to marginalized communities.
“I immediately fell in love with StreetSquash’s mission and their dedication to going above and beyond for their students and caregivers,” KhatSaRa said.
In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, reading novels, and spoiling her nephews.
She says StreetSquash aligns with her personal vision for the future.
“My life and career goals are to focus heavily on educating, raising awareness and championing
for the empowerment, rights and equality of those in need especially from marginalized
Communities,” KhatSaRa said. “Through experiences I hope to gain at Streetsquash, I will make a lasting impact on the community by cultivating positive relationships with the children of tomorrow.”
Joanne is the newest member of the Squash Department. She’ll be working with middle and high school students on their squash games. She also runs all of StreetSquash’s community squash events that occur outside of after-school programming.
Born and raised in Pretoria, South Africa, Joanne loved playing sports her entire life. She grew up playing cricket, field hockey, squash and tennis. She played on South Africa’s national junior teams for both squash and tennis as a senior in High School.
Joanne achieved her dream of coming to the U.S. by attending Indiana State University on a tennis scholarship. She went on to graduate with a degree in Exercise Science. Post college, she went on to coach squash and tennis at Trinity College, before ultimately working as a squash coach for Columbia University for nine years. She went on to receive a Master’s at Columbia in Applied Physiology.
She found out about StreetSquash while working for Columbia, as their varsity men’s and women’s squash teams use the StreetSquash facility for their practices and matches. She often volunteered at StreetSquash while working at Columbia.
“I am drawn by the energy of the students who are so great and make coming to work so fun,” Joanne Said. “I love teaching squash and helping students learn while making it fun and exciting. Through squash we learn to have a strong body and mind. It teaches us tenacity, resilience, team work, leadership, discipline, respect and patience.”
Joanne loves playing all racket sports, recently competing (and winning events!) at a Racketlon competition in Europe. She also enjoys cycling and walking her dog. She’s in the process of learning to play guitar and speak Spanish.