Youth Advocates

Angela Montero - Health Youth Advocate

I am a senior at Woodrow Wilson high school and a peer advocate with the Young Women’s Project. I am going to start school at Barnard college in the fall and I plan to study biochemistry and gender.  I plan to one day go to medical school or to graduate school for public health.  I currently also work as a hospice care volunteer and a chemistry tutor.  I first got involved in the Young Women’s Project as a part of the Youth Health Action Council.  A friend of mine dragged me to weekly meetings in which we were trained to be peer educators.  When I was learning about sexual health through Young Women’s Project I realized how little of that information I was actually learning in health class. The next year I officially got hired as a peer educator and I got involved in the Young Women’s Project’s advocacy campaign to update the health standards and make them more comprehensive.  Testifying and advocating for these standards became my favorite part of the job.  After two years I finally got to see the Health standards passed and all our hard work put to use to improve health education for all DCPS students.  In the end, I hope that the work we are doing here helps to make sure that every teen in DCPS gets access to accurate, helpful and well-rounded health information and I hope that we as educators offer our peers support and contraception that allows everyone to stay safe and healthy.

Jhirbron Tonge - Health Youth Advocate

I am a 12th grader at School Without Walls Senior High School. I’m a goal driven, kind hearted, and compassionate scholar with a dream to heal hearts and minds of people through therapy. I am also into photography, music and simply hanging out with friends. I began working at the Young Women's Project to originally just make an easy quick few bucks. But overtime, while working at the office, I grew to enjoy the work. Spreading something important as sexual health to other people in my age group became something I was inspired by. And as a peer advocate I get to spread the ideas of our youth to those who can have an impactful change. I would say While working here I got to do some amazing things. Such as testify in front an actually members of the Board of Education and other places. But one of the amazing things I believed I’ve done was take the knowledge of what I learned to help someone with a serious issue pertaining to sexual health. From that alone I learned that from this job I can have an impact on people. I would say my favorite part about working here was coming to the office. I was always welcomed even when we're being kicked out. I enjoyed working with the Young Women’s Project.

James Peters - Health Youth Advocate

I am a proud member of the Young Women's Project. I am eager Senior at Bell Multicultural High School. I plan on attending a two-year college to obtain my associate's degree still undecided on which one I’ll attend. I am considering Montgomery college or University of District of Columbia Community College. Once completed, I will transfer to a university for the rest of my college career to get my bachelors then get my master’s degree. I would like to study law. Some hobbies I have are playing sports mostly basketball but I really enjoy watching different sports. I enjoy listening to music and writing poetry. I also enjoy spending time with my friends. Being a part of the Young Women's Project was one of the best decisions in my life so far. I enjoy every minute of work at the Young Women's Project because it's such a warm and confidential environment where I learn something new every time. I’ve began to build a family with these people. I enjoy this work because it has allowed me to make a difference amongst my peers for the last three years. Teaching them about sexual health and giving them the gift of safe sex has me leaving high school with a sense of accomplishment. I have also enjoyed being part of the reforming of the Health standards. Being part of bad health classes I know of the importance for the next generation to receive good health education, and I’m proud to have been part of that reform. My one greatest memory and accomplishment here was recently being acknowledged for peer educator of the year. Being nominated was an honor and it made me feel good knowing that my hard work this year has been seen and felt.

Nyjia Williams - Health Youth Advocate

I am a senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar SHS. I plan to attend Florida Memorial University in fall of 2016. My intended major is Psychology and a minor in sociology. I am from Washington DC.I have been working at The Young Women's Project since November 2015. I love to read books and go out with friends. My favorite thing about working at the Young women’s project is being able to inform my age group on the importance safe sex. I also like to make people feel empowered, although we aren’t adults we have a lot of important decisions to make and being safe is a big one. I also enjoy being able to help teens and give advice to make sure they are being as safe and responsible as they can be. I understand that it is their choice in what they do, but they will make better decisions if they are informed. I am most proud of my first testimony on what should be fixed at my school. I was extremely nervous and I did a pretty good job. I pushed it all to the side so I can express how I felt about my school's college counselor and post-secondary plan opportunities for graduating students. After I graduate from college I hope to become a child psychologist and return to DC to help kids not become the statistic people are hoping for them to be. I want to give them the opportunities to succeed in life and have someone to look up to if they aren’t given this at home. I want to assist in fixing the problems that they may have faced growing up. I do not plan to become successful and forget about where I came from, I want to be a role model of what kids like me could be one day.

Rochelle Alejandra Cespede-Polanco - Health Youth Advocate

My name is so long because I’m Hispanic. Both of my parents are from Dominican Republic, but I was born and raised, here in DC. I love my city and I’ve been attending Theodore Roosevelt for 3 years. I attended Paul Public Charter school from 6-9th grade. I am a senior and will be attending The University of Toledo in the Fall. A chapter in my life that I am extremely eager to start.
I am currently a peer educator at The Young Women’s Project. Here I do advocacy work such as testifying in front of city council, as well as teach youth my age about safe sex. I distribute condoms and refer youth to places they can go whenever they need help with troubles they have. The work that I and others do is extremely important. I’m not just saying this because it’s my job. The things we do prevent diseases and possibly death. We prevent unwanted and unplanned births. This work is important as well because it gives youth a voice.   I’m extremely proud how much YWP has been involved in the 16 to vote bill and the impact we have had. Having city council hold a hearing is a major step and I have no doubt in mind that one day soon youth in DC will be able to vote.

Demetrice Lester - Health Youth Advocate

A few people know me as Mr. President, that’s only cause I’m the president of my great high school. By the way I attended Theodore Roosevelt one of the coolest schools in DC to attend. If you are reading this, I’m sure you started laughing at the last statement. I plan on going to college at the University of Toledo and studying Women’s Studies and Business Accounting. I also plan on starting my own organization, the YWP kind of inspired me to. I love to play basketball, and play video games with my friends, I'm a very competitive person, so i try to keep it at a limit because my competitiveness can get the best of me at times. I thank the Young Women’s Project for everything they have done for me throughout this year. It’s an awesome place to come and learn and also give back to the community that you love and want to see continuing to grow.

Rahel Mideksa - Health Youth Advocate

I am an empowered woman on the pursuit to change the world. I attend Bell Multicultural High School as an 11th grader. I want to go to school at King's College where I want to major in bioethics and international human rights. I want to open a non-profit similar to The Young Women's Project, where I currently work as a peer advocate. I never want to let a lack of money or knowledge be the reason why someone is denied their pursuit of happiness. We live in a society where many individuals are not aware of their rights, or their potential. I work as a peer advocate because it allows me to inspire others in some way. I know that when we live in this world, it is our duty to bring knowledge and spread awareness to let our society grow and I plan on doing that. I know that in my community, we face many challenges with our health and some don’t have the medical access. If I start influencing my community to make profound changes now, I can help make drastic changes in the future at a global level. I come from a developing country called Ethiopia, which is prosperous, but the barriers of not having health access, like the US, prevents it from growing more. I am given the opportunity to obtain such knowledge and grow, but many young girls have not. I believe it is my duty to spread knowledge, so that others can continue this to grow as well.

Dae'Sean Tibbs - Health Youth Advocate

I go to School Without Walls, and I’m a member of the class of 2016. When time comes for me to graduate, I hope to continue on to college, and possibly the military, but with the current presidential campaign’s candidates, the military might not be the best option. I’m thinking about staying local and go to my hometown college, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) and major in computer science. I have further hopes for that degree to be used as a key into the STEM workforce, and become a cyber-security analyst or a penetration tester, someone who hacks into networks to discover weaknesses. Yet right now, my favorite job is working with the Young Women’s Project (YWP). I say it’s my favorite because since working here I’ve met a lot of people from other schools, and I’ve come to get to know people at my school and their odd needs. The work is enjoyable because the concept is simplistic, keep kids safe by sending kids to advocate. I think the concept is great, because when a friend tells you to strap up I think you might just listen. It also allows me to joke around and learn a lot more about people’s life away from school. This job has also made me feel bolder because of the chances to testify, I’ve only done so twice, but I feel like in comparison from my first time, I grew a lot in my public speaking skills for my second. A lot of that is to thank for the experience, and I believe that’s one of my favorite things about being a peer advocate, including the other staff I had said before.

Abigail Koerner - Health Youth Advocate

I am a junior at Wilson high school and a Peer Advocate at the Young Women's project. I love my job! As a Peer Advocate I get to do really meaningful work while accommodating my school schedule. I strongly support sexual health education and it is awesome to feel like I am making a difference in the world by promoting it. Testifying to OSSE about the sexual education standards was definitely a highlight of my YWP career. Together, we changed the way kids are taught about health.