Nina attends Rady Childrens Hospital: Summer Medical Academy

My summer program just ended and it was truly bitter sweet! The entire time I thought about Access and how cool it was that I was able to live such an awesome experience. We had an agenda that was packed to the brim with hands-on experience and I was exposed to so many different possibilities and careers in the world of medicine. From eastern approaches like acupuncture and Chinese herbs to the western methods of CPR and inserting IVs, the Academy has really shifted my interests in the medical field. I came in the program wanting to be a pharmacist and know more about the world of prescription drugs. Though those interests are still strong and prominent, I also was exposed to the world of action and being a first-responder. It is thrilling, exciting, and very admirable work that I also see myself being a part of.

Throughout the program, we were also able to hear panels, network, and ask many questions with a large population of those working in different fields in medicine. One major thing that stuck out to me the most was that nearly all the doctors did not know that they wanted to be doctors when they were my age. It was a windy and curvy path to get to where they were, and they made many different decisions based on their lifestyle, interests, and passions, to end up where they are today. And they are happy! Sitting there and hearing their voices so animated and pitched at the excitement of their everyday work life makes me excited to begin mine. Rady Children’s Summer Medical Academy has reassured me and made me become more confident in my decisions as I begin my senior year. It has also motivated me to work harder to achieve my goals of going to medical school and pursuing a job that I am excited and zealous to wake up to every morning. 🙂

News, Press

Urban Squash Students Selected To Attend Prestigious College Programs

Two local San Diego students have been selected as the National Urban Squash Association (NUSEA)’s nominees for summer academic opportunities at two of the most illustrious private schools in the Atlantic Northeast. Sabrina Herrera from Paradise Hills (92139) and Lexa Lara from Shelltown (92113) were selected along with an additional 34 underserved students from across the nation to take part in these enriching summer experiences.

Sabrina will be traveling to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and Lexa will be attending The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, much to the delight of Access Youth Academy Executive Director Renato Paiva.

“To be selected for one of these summer learning opportunities in what is a very competitive pool (students from 18 programs nationwide) is a big deal and testament to the strong and passionate essay applications. Students had to submit an essay of their students’ interests, qualities, and what makes them unique and a statement outlining their reasons for wanting to attend a summer school program.

“Once enrolled in summer school, students get to personalize their programs of study by working with dedicated teachers and having access to the full Academy campus. Sabrina and Lexa will be able to experience dorm life, set their curriculum schedule and engage with other students from across the nation and around the world.” Mr. Paiva said.

Both students attend the Preuss School at UCSD and are part of the Access Youth Academy program, which is a 12-year promise to underserved students who are first generation college bound.

“These rigorous boarding schools have been something that has never came up as an opportunity for me so this is an unbelievable experience. When I get older I want to feel like my hard work helped get me somewhere in life and strive to accomplish things for my family so they can feel like their sacrifices weren’t in vain. Ms. Lara (8th Grade) said.

“When I first heard about this opportunity I felt excited and grateful. The mere idea of having a chance of attending a summer opportunity is a once in a lifetime opportunity and will also expand my knowledge and find my passion to inspire and change the world in my own way” Ms. Herrera (freshman) said.


News, Student Blog

Access Youth Academy’s Yan Liu Wins the Inaugural William E. Simon Award

Article originally posted by the National Urban Squash and Education Association (NUSEA).
A big congratulations to Yan Liu, a graduate of San Diego’s Access Youth Academy and a senior at UC Berkeley, as the first recipient of NUSEA’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 NUSEA.
The award was established in honor of NUSEA’s founding board chair, Bill Simon, and aims to highlight the importance of leadership and service, deepen ties between urban squash programs in the United States and abroad, and provide a once-in-lifetime opportunity for an urban squash graduate. Each NUSEA member program was permitted to nominate one graduating college student.
Yan is a 2013 graduate of Access Youth Academy and a senior this year at Berkeley majoring in Public Health with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice. She plays college squash alongside some of her Access teammates and volunteers weekly with SquashDrive in Oakland where she tutors and mentors youth. “Yan Liu is an extraordinarily driven and passionate individual,” AYA Academic Coordinator Soraya Ramos. “As she continues to achieve her dreams at UC Berkeley, Yan remains connected to her humble beginnings, to squash, and to the community that helped her get there.”
Yan echoed that spirit of gratitude when notified about the award. “When I applied to the Simon Leadership Award, I had one goal in mind: to give back to the urban squash community,” explained Yan. “I want to use my experiences and accomplishments to serve as an ambassador to guide the young urban squash players on an international platform. I am very excited to be able to experience a different culture, meet new people and learn from the program that I’ll have the honor to work with. “
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***SNEAK PEEK*** Access Gala – 2016 Silent Auction

Tickets are selling fast for next weeks 10th Anniversary Gala. It’s not to late to secure your spot at this unique celebration of student success. Get your ticket now before its too late!
On the night of the Gala we will be hosting our biggest silent auction yet! With over 50 items, packages, and experiences up for grabs, there truly is something for everyone. Check out the list below to see our full range of items and start planning your prize haul!
All of our supporters (not just those attending the event), are also invited to bid on 5 exclusive items before the event which are featured below. All are priced ‘buy now’ so if you are interested in securing an item instantly please email Ryan Ginard at 
All funds raised from the Silent Auction go to our academic and urban youth enrichment programming at Access Youth Academy.

‘The Featured Five’

Tournament of Champions VIP @ NYC
2 x VIP tickets for one session of your choice at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions (ToC) held in Grand Central Station (Jan 12-16 days only). Don’t miss your chance to be at the world’s largest spectator squash event in one of the most iconic NYC buildings! Donated by John Nimick. BUY IT NOW PRICE – $750
Padres Vs Cubs Series
After getting swept by the Padres in their most recent outing, could the Chicago Cubs be coming back to San Diego in 2017 as World Series Champions or will it be 109 years of hurt?  2 x Toyota Terrace VIP tickets for all 3 games and an autographed Lee Smith photo await the winner of this sought after item! Donated by the Chicago Cubs and Richard Shapiro. BUY IT NOW PRICE – $500
2017 SD Beer Run VIP Experience
Get the rockstar treatment with 2 brand new running shoes from RoadRunner Sports, 2 entries for the run with free food and San Diego’s finest breweries for the day in the events exclusive VIP tent. Donated by Legendary Event Management BUY IT NOW PRICE – $500
Taliesin West tour – Scottsdale AZ
Check out this historical national landmark and home of The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture with two tours donated by The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. BUY IT NOW PRICE- $200
AL Interleague Series
2017 will see the visit to Petco Park of the Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins. See all 9 games with 2 x Toyota Terrace VIP tickets and receive a signed Travis Jankowski baseball. Donated by The San Diego Padres and Richard Shapiro. BUY IT NOW PRICE – $1250
The full list of items below will be open for bidding on the night…Dont miss out!

2 center court, 2nd row VIP Golden State Warriors tickets

3 Nights at The Lodges at Snowcreek Luxury Mammoth Condo

7 Night Stay at Capri by the Sea

4 x Clubhouse Season passes for the Del Mar 2017 racing season

$5000 Video Package from Infrastructure Productions

1 Hour Consult & Xrays at San Diego Stem Cell

A Blazer from the Ascot Shop in La Jolla

1 x 3 month family membership at the La Jolla YMCA

Family 4 Pack of tickets to Seaworld

3 course dinner for 2 at NINE-TEN Restaurant, Grande Colonial Hotel, La Jolla

Private Squash Lessons with Access Coach Eric Malo

Happy Hour for 10 at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach

Renato Paiva Harvard Coaches Jersey

Padres Opening Day tickets vs the San Francisco Giants

And 20+ unique ‘Access curated’ experiences including trips to Maui and Big Bear, restaurant vouchers, theatre tickets, jewelry, wine packs, golf packages and MORE!


Join us as we celebrate a decade of impact!

ACCESS GALA 2015 - bleeds

Access Youth Academy’s 10th Anniversary Gala is fast approaching. This is our most important event to date and there is no better time to celebrate our students success and our decade of impact than with our closest friends and supporters.

Join us on October 22nd at the San Diego Hall of Champions – Purchase your ticket today!

This event is far different from any other gala in the region with the evening’s hosts and key speakers being current students of the program, which helps provide an opportunity to showcase our stories and impact through their eyes. From the moment you are escorted from the valet, through our reception and dinner, you will learn more about why our students are graduating high school and being accepted into some of the most illustrious colleges in the nation.




News, Student Blog

Panel with Community Leaders

By Kacey McCoig, Health and Wellness Coordinator.


Last week, I organized a panel discussion for our middle and high schoolers here at Access The panelist were amazing community leaders and the students amazing future leaders. This panel discussion gave them the opportunity to ask anonymous questions that were on their mind or questions that they were too embarrassed to ask. Most of the questions revolved around relationships, saying good-bye, rejection and quite frankly, sex. Not surprising at that age…and if we’re honest…we still share some of these same questions. If I’m totally honest, I was listening closely too and reaping some of the benefits as well.

One of our panelists, Sean Sheppard, the founder of Embrace, a non-profit here in San Diego focused on mobilizing college students to volunteer and serve underserved civilian and military populations all over the country, provided an easy to remember, simple, applicable and quite possibly true guideline to keep in mind. This was the two G’s.

It went something like this: There are two kinds of people in the world: givers and get-ers. Givers are individuals who give of themselves and what they have without any attached expectation to receive in return. Get’ers make their moves in order to…you guessed it…get.

Simple enough? I thought about it. What am I? I think I’m a giver. I’ve been accused of having expectations before, however. Is it always bad to expect…something in return? I agree with Mr. Sheppard, and I think I will move forward, keeping this close to the surface and see what effect(s) it has. I will be open to the possibility that I can improve, expect less, give more and more importantly, give from a place of true compassion and nurturing care for others. I will let you know my observations.

Perhaps you may want to take on this type of self-investigation yourself. If you’re on this site, then you’re seeking something Some truth for you. Some answers to your questions, even though they may be simply food-related. I do find; however, and you will come to see this if we shall ever meet, that many of our food and lifestyle choices stem from a bit of a deeper layer of the onion. This exercise, as is the advice, is simple (Let me know if you think otherwise) and therefore one that we may benefit from trying out.

So, what about you and how does this relate to your health and wellness? Who do you give to? Receive from? Are their stipulations and how do these arrangements serve you and those around you? Who do you surround yourself with? How do you and those around receive what is being offered..or take? What are you giving to yourself? Why? Or…why not? How does this affect you and if it’s less than a positive, desirable effect, what do you want for yourself instead? I encourage you to write the answers to these questions down. You may be surprised with what you find.

That’s a good start. Once we have our answers, lets take the next step. What can change, how and where, big or little, that will serve us and those around us? How can we be the most nurturing sense of the word? And, what’s stopping us?

Remember, this is not a selfish act. It is a universal truth that we have to take care of ourselves in order to really care for anyone else. This act is actually an extremely courageous act that will positively impact those around you. This message may have transformed a bit from its original context and meaning, but I think it’s applicability is what makes it such good advice. I encourage you to apply, and see what happens.



Second panel of the year organized by our Access Health & Wellness Coordinator, Kacey McCoig.

News, Student Blog

The College Program

It’s been about 12 months since I started working with Access as their College Coordinator, and in those 12 months, I’ve come to learn a lot about working with students, managing and distributing information through various channels such as newsletters, Facebook pages, word of mouth, and many others, kept notes on services we could provide our students, and more. But the overall year was filled with repeat trial and error. From my experiences with the students, I have been able to distinguish what kinds of things would truly make an impact during their time in college. And it’s important to remember when thinking about these things that a college student’s time is taken up with so much more than just studying and mastering their academics. While this may be a key factor to their success, our students’ reach is much larger than that. As an organization, Access provides our students with the necessary resources to help reach that success. By providing services through health and wellness, academics, and professional/career development, our students are able to receive support in any aspect of their college life, regardless if it’s school related or personal.

Because Access is a 12-year program, we are able to assist them throughout their time in middle school and high school, further into their college education, and even a couple of years further after their graduation. With the help of my co-workers, our college students, and my personal experience as a student in college, I’ve been able to create Access Youth Academy’s college program.


In short, our students first come into the program at the start of 7th grade, go through middle school and high school with the help of our Academic Coordinator, get through college, and continue on past their graduation from their universities with a degree in their hands. Seems pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of moving pieces in between that make it all come together. Because the program adds up to being 12 years (6 years in middle school and high school, 4 years in college, and 2 years post college), we call this the “12-year promise.” This extensive amount of time with our students allows us to prepare those in Phase 1 (middle school and high school) for the years in college ahead of them.


As college coordinator, I’m specifically in charge of Phase 2 and 3 of the program. These pertain to college freshman – seniors (Phase 2), and follows college graduates two years after their graduation (Phase 3).

Starting with Phase 1, Access begins to prepare their students for college by providing tutoring and guidance in order to better their chances at succeeding in Phase 2 and 3. Guidance includes a “College Readiness” program that allows the seniors to gain a full scope of what it’s like in college, from academics to building a social life, this college readiness program allows for these seniors to be better prepared for their freshman year.

Once in college, we’re there to help make our student’s lives a bit easier. Whether this be taking the stress away from a job interview through the help of our mentors and volunteers, providing an internship opportunity for the summer, helping our students network in the professional workforce, or help develop a personal career plan, Access guides our students through the various facets of their college lives.

While in Phase 2, our mission is to maximize our student’s academic experience, increase the amount of summer opportunities available to them, and focus on building and strengthening their future careers. Once our students graduate from their universities, our focus is more on personal development, their connection to the team, and on becoming ambassadors for themselves, the people around them, and Access Youth Academy as a whole. The idea is that by the time our students graduate from college, they’ll give back to the program through various ways such as mentorships, tutoring, volunteering or many others.

With all of this in mind, I took into account all the different aspects of “the college life” and put together what we call The College Program. What we had initially thought was an amazing idea, getting first generation college students to be as prepared and successful before college (and eventually through college) is all finally a reality. After ten years of operations, our first cohorts of Access students have finally reached a long awaited milestone: graduation. This means that as of this past month in May, we officially have graduated these students onto phase 3, making them the first to graduate from their universities and moved onto the workforce, graduate school, and many others.

I’m excited to see what this position has to bring in the upcoming months.

Looking back on these past eight years that I’ve been a student at Access, and now as college coordinator for the program, it’s great seeing all my teammates whom I once practiced with reach great success.

Wishing you all the best in your futures!

Eric Malo

Access Youth Academy College Coordinator



Eric (third from left), regularly puts together events for the phase 2 & 3 students when they are back in San Diego to enhance their experiences and continue to feel connected to the program. The above photo was taken from one such event, the 2015 Alumni vs Nationals Team Tournament.


Two Students Selected To Participate In Prestigious Urban Citizenship Tour

What does it mean to be an engaged citizen? What are the different ways that each of us can make a difference in our respective communities? The Urban Squash Citizenship Tour will give 22 civically minded and academically accomplished high school and college students from across the country the opportunity to explore these questions and more over an 8 day swing across the East Coast.

We are proud to announce that both America S. and Access College Coordinator Eric Malo have both been selected to participate in Citizenship Tour in July. This tour is a terrific opportunity to become informed citizens and to highlight the importance of public service within the country’s 17 urban squash programs. The trip will focus on the topic of civil rights and its role in shaping our nation’s identity, politics, and history, beginning in New York City, travelling through Philadelphia, and ending in Washington, DC.

During the trip, students will spend time with leaders in government, journalism, education, policy and the nonprofit community; visit sites that have played a part in American history; engage with local urban squash programs; exercise and practice at university and urban squash facilities; and promote NUSEA’s local member programs and urban squash generally.

This is the third year of the Citizenship Tour and highlights of last year’s Tour included meetings with Secretary of Education​ Arne Duncan, ​Senator ​Kirsten Gillibrand, ​Senator ​Heidi Heitkamp, Senator​ Al Franken​, Congressman ​Elijah Cummings, A​cting Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions U.S. Department of the Treasury ​Amias Gerety, ​and Commissioner of NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs ​Nisha Agarwal.

The group will again tour the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and New York Times Building in New York City, visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and tour the U.S. Capitol and the White House in Washington, D.C.



Victor Marques Joins The Access Development Team

Access Youth Academy is happy to announce that Victor Marques has joined the development team as its new Development Coordinator.

Victor was born and raised in Salvador, Brazil, and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Ruy Barbosa University. Following his graduation he spent two years as an Associate Auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers, providing external team audits for many non-profit and for-profit clients.

Making the big move to California, Victor spent almost three years with the non-profit organization Junior Youth Empowerment Program where he helped raise the capacity of young adolescents to understand the realities of their community and empower them to serve and transform their neighborhoods.

Get to know the team – A Q&A with Victor Marques

What drew you to this role at Access?
Coming from another youth focused non-profit and learning more about Access’s mission is what ultimately attracted me to apply for this position. I was able to see the impact the program has in the lives of those youth evolved and wanted to play a role. By empowering the youth to take ownership of their academic, professional, personal lives allows them to become positive agents of social transformation.
What are your goals for the coming year?
Because I’ve recently move to San Diego, I feel that for this upcoming year I will be learning more about ways to contribute to the betterment of my community.
What motivates you in life?
What motivates me in life is the desire to always strive for excellence in all different aspects of my life. This desire pushes me to excel higher and higher levels. 
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy surfing.
Do you play squash?
I actually had never played squash before joining the Access team, but now that I have learned the basics and played a few times I can see the sport becoming a hobby of mine as well.
Victor will be predominantly working on small gifts and grants. You can contact Victor at


NUSEA Visits Access For Bi-yearly Review

All NUSEA programs are evaluated bi-yearly by a revolving panel of Executive Directors from veteran urban squash programs. This year, Access was evaluated by NUSEA’s ED, Tim Wyant. The evaluation includes observing programming in all facets on and off court, interviewing students, parents, volunteers, our partner school, staff and board– all the moving pieces of the organization. The two day visit was an opportunity to observe the strengths of the program, strong work ethic of both students and staff, and the overall growth of the program.

While attending an Access Youth Academy board meeting, Tim commented on the success of the Access; highlighting the long-term results of the Access program, the caliber of colleges the students are accepted to, the strong partnership with Preuss, the development of a Health & Wellness program, as well as the “on the ground work” as being exceptional.

Tim Wyant provides an overview of NUSEA, its programs, and support for member organizations to the Access Board.

National Squash and Education Association (NUSEA) Executive Director, Tim Wyant provides an overview of NUSEA, its programs, and support for member organizations to the Access Board at its February meeting.