They have hoop dreams and academic dreams.
Six Queens high school students were awarded scholarships by the Rising Stars Youth Foundation to attend prestigious schools in New York City and beyond to reach their full academic and athletic potential.
The Rising Stars Youth Foundation — the leading charitable program that builds character, promotes education and reinforces important values through a unifying interest in basketball — announced its incoming high school scholars for fall 2020.
The six Queens ninth-grade scholars are Carlos Urena and Dennis Inga from Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School in East Elmhurst; Tyler Michel, Jonathan Medley and Hayden Cutile of St. Francis Preparatory High School in Fresh Meadows; and Darren Marchong of Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood.
Dan Gimpel, executive director of the Rising Stars Youth Foundation, said the organization transforms young lives, allowing boys and girls to obtain academic opportunities in high school or prep school — and ultimately college — that may have otherwise been out of reach.
“Rising Stars does this as a youth sports and empowerment organization that puts education first,” Gimpel said. “For over 20 years, Rising Stars has utilized the power of teams and a love of basketball as a vehicle to promote education, reinforce positive values, and provide a safe environment to play, learn and grow.”
Every year, the Rising Stars Youth Foundation carefully evaluates applications from students with both academic and athletic promise for scholarships — entirely funded by donors — to attend some of the best private schools with basketball programs in New York City, Long Island and even out of New York state.
“The scholar athletes receive so much more than tuition assistance; they are being given all the tools needed for success,” said Emily Ades, director of education of the Rising Stars Youth Foundation. “This program changes lives!”
According to Ades, 95 percent of their scholars are honor roll students, including kids who struggled in school before becoming a Rising Stars Scholar.
Tim Thornton, a lifetime board member of the Rising Stars Youth Foundation, said Rising Stars bridges the social class opportunity gap, enabling students to attend prestigious private schools they never thought could be possible.
“Many participants over the years live in areas where the high school graduation rate is less than 75 percent or they have challenging family circumstances such as single-parent and/or low-income households,” Thornton said.
The new Rising Stars Youth Foundation Fall 2020 Scholar Athletes each shared their dreams and aspirations while extending gratitude to the organization.
Dennis Inga, Ninth grade, of Elmhurst, attends Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School.
“My passion is playing basketball and listening to music,” Inga said. “My goals are to work hard, go D1 in basketball and own multiple businesses. My dream is to inspire other people to work hard,” said Inga.
Carlos Urena, Ninth grade, of Corona, attends Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School.
“I am a Rising Stars scholar and play for the ninth grade basketball team,” Urena said. “My passion in life is to be great, become an inspiration for the future, and repay my parents and loved ones for all they did and sacrificed for me. My ultimate goal in life is to eventually become a professional basketball player. Thank you Rising Stars for all the love and support!”
Darren Marchong, Ninth grade, of Far Rockaway, attends Archbishop Molloy High School.
“I would describe myself as a hard worker,” Marchong said. “I let my success speak for me. I’m a scholar and an athlete. You give me the ball, and I will run, whether it’s in the classroom, virtually or on the court. I always consider things thoroughly, and rarely act blindly.”
Jonathan Medley, 11th grade, of Laurelton, attends St. Francis Preparatory School.
“As a young basketball player, my dream has always been to make it to the NBA,” said Medley. “If I don’t make it to the NBA, however, I would love to become a sports commentator as this would allow me to remain involved in the sport that I love. My main goal overall though is to just be able to help my family and others in the future as I mature into the best man I can possibly be.”
Hayden Cutile, Ninth grade, of Bellerose, attends St. Francis Preparatory School.
“My goal is to be successful in high school and to have the opportunity to play D1 college basketball and to earn a college degree,” Cutile said. “This has been my goal ever since I started playing basketball.”
Tyler Michel, Ninth grade, of Cambria Heights, Queens, attends St. Francis Preparatory School.
“I have a very strong passion and love for basketball,” Michel said. “I love the game for what it has taught me on and off the court. I have goals of having a very successful basketball career and using what I have to learn to help others, especially those that may not have been granted the same opportunities as I am so fortunate to have. I have dreams to make it to the NBA one day and, most importantly, dreams of making an impact on my community.”