Workforce Development Graduates 2023
Our 2023 Workforce Development cohort kicking off the season with a trip to Union Square Greenmarket
Kevin Nkuga (he/him/his)
Hey, my name is Kevin. I’m a Workforce Development Intern at GrowNYC. I was born and raised in New York City for all my life. I’ve enjoyed going on vacations with my family in the summer as well as working in the summer. I like to read and enjoy many different types of books, authors, and/or comics. I’m excited to work this summer and I also look forward to my life in college this fall!
Most excited about: Working this summer, getting my hands dirty, and going on field trips.
Why food is important to me: Food is important to me because food is a part of everyone’s culture. Everyone is different and we all have a different culture than one another, whether that be the home we were raised in, our family, nationality, etc. But despite all our differences food is what brings us together.
Sei Johnson (he/him)
Hello! My name is Sei Johnson and i am 16, 6’2, black and Japanese and i live in Queens, New York. I like to be outside and play sports and playing video games with my friends.
I have aspirations to be a model as well as help communities that are less fortunate to get affordable healthy food.
Most excited about: I'm most excited about working at GrowNYC and meeting many new people which i could work with and befriend
Why food is important to me: Food is important to me because i would see GrowNYC's Farmstand in my neighborhood and always wanted to be a part of that and help other communities that need it
Deyanira Sanchez P. (she/her)
Hi! I’m a high school student in the Bronx. I grew up in the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo. In the past 10 I was in various schools, foundations and art companies. I have been in different clubs at school including Student Government, Electronics and Soldering, Green Team and others. While enjoying these developments of new skills.
Most excited about: Meet new people and have new experiences!
Why learning is important to me: I started in the art world at an early age. At the age of 4 I began to experience how a pencil leaves a trace on paper, how a string of an instrument makes sounds and together make melodies, how making sounds with my vocal cords can result in a song, how at let my body flow like the waves of the sea with the music my soul is expressed. As when making expressions and saying words I can tell you a story as if I were the one in the story. Among many other things they made me interested and filled me with curiosity about what surrounds me. Learning new things is having the power to understand what the world has to offer us and not being ignorant in front of a diamond in the rough.
Aaron Bravo (he/him)
Hello my name is Aaron Bravo and i'm going to my senior year in high school. I joined the GrowNYC program through a volunteering job that I have called River Fund. I really enjoy volunteering atRiver Fund so when I saw the GrowNYC program I thought it was similar and would be really cool to be a part of this program. I enjoy playing soccer and going on walks in my free time.
Most excited about: I'm most excited about all the people I'm going to meet throughout this summer.
Why food is important to me: Food is important to me because to my understanding not many people have access to the best quality foods for either price or location and that shouldn't be like that since food literally keeps us alive.
Quentin Ewan Beck (he/him/his)
Hello! I’m 19 years old going into university for Forensic Criminology. While Environmental Science is one of the things I’m passionate about, I also love other sciences and the arts. My previous major was actually Film and Arts and Culture. I love drawing, watching movies, boxing, and I’m also interested in a lot of different media. I travel a lot and so I’ve got a lot of experience with other places and cultures.
Most excited about: Finally being able to be hands-on about a subject I’m passionate about and able to put what I’ve learned to good use.
Why food is important to me: Food is important to me because it is a part of my culture. I am Ecuadorian/Puerto Rican, and food is used as a means of bringing people together for any occasion. I grew up visiting my grandmother’s lime farm in the countryside. Food is a staple of bringing us together even in the hardest of times- it gives me and my family a space to relax or chat or simply enough each other’s company. Aside from that, it is also something that I and my family have struggled with. Navigating lack of food/unhealthy food has always been somewhat of a struggle especially growing up in the Bronx.
Shadine Stoney (she/her)
Greetings, my name is Shadine (pronounced: SHAH-deen) Stoney and I originate from Brooklyn, New York and am the proud daughter of Jamaican immigrants. I currently major in Public Health at the University at Buffalo. I am very excited about being an intern for GrowNYC this summer as I believe that it will open up so many more doors for me and I get the chance to travel throughout this sleepless city! I hope to find my own ‘niche’ within the environmental justice community. I also have an older brother and have always shown a keen interest in Sour Patch Kids candy, memes, and watching Youtube true crime videos. Food justice is important to me because it makes me feel grateful that we can have access to healthy, affordable food because without it, most food would be expensive, less fresh and not locally grown.
Maddison Lim (she/her)
Hello! My name is Maddison Lim, I am 16 years old and grew up in Queens, New York. During the Fourth of July in 2023, I went up to my roof for the first time. I was very skeptical of the ladder but I am glad I did it because I managed to get a great view of the fireworks. During my free time, I like to play video games and take care of my two cats named Sushi and Yoshi.
Most excited about: Being able to travel to many different places with people.
Why the environment is important to me: The environment is important because it allows us to live a happy, healthy life. Trees are in charge of creating our oxygen, farms produce food to eat, and the lakes, rivers and groundwater give us water to drink. The environment is not something that we should take for granted, instead we should preserve it.
Daniela Kies (she/her)
Hi! My name is Daniela Kies, and I’m a member of the workforce development program this summer at GrowNYC. I am 17, and attend Fiorello H. Laguardia high school. I have always loved gardening(but being in NYC, that can be difficult and I seem to kill any plant I try to grow in my apartment haha), and this spring I went to a semester program in Vermont where I lived and worked on the school's organic farm. In my free time I love baking and making crafts(like sewing, knitting, etc..).
Most excited about: Meeting other companies and what they do(along with learning more about GrowNYC) to try and make the city more sustainable and teach others. I am also very excited to work at the green markets around the city!
Why the environment is important to me: Earth's natural resources provide us with everything we need to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, for many years we have been consuming more than the earth can sustainably provide and harming the environment. Lately the negative effects on the climate are undeniably noticeable, including the recently unhealthy air quality in NYC. Growing up in NYC can be hectic, and I find that being in nature makes me feel calm and provides a sense of beauty and peace.
Zhi Ming Xu (he/him)
Hello! My name is Zhi Ming Xu, a 17 year old Workforce Development Intern who is aspiring to create a positive change in my community through my experiences with GrowNYC. I grew up in Brooklyn and have had the experience of working on a school garden for a bit in elementary school, where I first got an interest in gardening. In my free time, I enjoy exercising and listening to music.
Most excited about: Being outdoors on field trips and helping out GrowNYC staff at Farmstand.
Why food is important to me: Food is important to me because it nourishes not only my body but also my soul, and I’m sure many others feel the same. This is why I feel strongly about promoting food access, as I want others to also have the same joy I do when eating food they enjoy.
Erik Jimenez (he/him)
Hullo. My name is Erik Jimenez, and I am an intern here at the GrowNYC Workforce Development Program. I grew up in Sunset Park Brooklyn and started learning to play classical guitar through the Brooklyn Conservatory’s Suzuki Method at the age of 4. I stopped at the age of 9 as a result of having to move upstate unfortunately, but it never stopped me from continuing to play the guitar, multiple other instruments, and joining a number of bands. In my free time I like to hang out and make others laugh. Generally just having a good time.
Most excited about: Seeing what the impact of my work brings to the community and learning how to incorporate GrowNYC’s vision with the fields I am going into, Graphic Design and Architecture.
Why food is important to me: If I cannot connect with others through language, then food is the next alternative as ways of communication. Especially when you cook for someone, it brings this unbelievable amount of love and energy between the two.
Nicol Romero (she/her)
Hello! My name is Nicol Romero and I'm a 16 years old high school student from john bowne high school in the agricultural program. This year I’m a worker for the growNYC workforce. I started farming and became interested when I was 5 years old in Colombia by my family because they have a farm and also at school, community parks where I participated where I enjoy planting, learning about new plants and their use.
Most excited about: I’m much very excited about going on new places where we can meet people and also work with plants and organic materials
Nabiha Chowdhury (she/her)
Hey! My name is Nabiha Chowdhury and I am a Workforce Development intern at GrowNYC. I am Bangladeshi but I immigrated to New York City and have been living in the Bronx for about 11 years. I’m 18 years old and I just graduated high school in June; I’m looking forward to college! I’ve participated in a variety of different internships in New York City related to urban ecology and environmental justice but I never really had the chance to work specifically in farmers markets or composting sites, which is why I’m so excited to be part of this program. I hope that I can gain a better understanding of food justice and environmental education in New York City. A fun fact about me is that I have a lot of creative hobbies, including, but not limited to, bullet journaling, crocheting, painting, drawing, sewing, and poetry.
Most excited about: Getting to travel all over the city and meet new people, both in and out of GrowNYC!
Why food is important to me: As a South Asian immigrant, I like to view food, specifically within my family, as a culmination of different cultures and identities. Cooking and sharing meals are a way of expressing love and appreciation in both my family and my community.
Tasfiah Ushe (she/they)
Hello! I’m Tasfiah Ushe, and this Summer I will be an intern for the GrowNYC Workforce Development Program. I’m from Queens, and my interest in green spaces first sparked when I grew plants like squash and spinach with my mother when I was younger. Later on, I didn’t get to participate in growing plants as much as I wanted to, so now I want to delve into it more. Some of my hobbies include spending time with my precious pet cat, journaling, and painting.
Most excited about: Going to one of GrowNYC’s community gardens.
Why food is important to me: Food is important to me because it isn’t just something we need to live but helps to bring people together and build relationships. Everyone has different relationships and experiences with food, and we have to understand that.
Sophia Wang (she/her)
Hi! My name is Sophia Wang. I will be a sophomore this fall at New York University, and I am a pre-law philosophy major. I am passionate about environmental justice, animal welfare, and public service, and I am currently working on creating my own plant-based food access initiative. In my free time, I enjoy biking around the city, writing and journaling, checking out all types of plant-based cuisines (New York has so many!), and cooking vegan recipes.
Most excited about: Meeting people with shared visions in the community, making connections between what we will learn and my personal goals and values
Why the environment is important to me: When I think about this question, I don’t view caring about the environment as a choice. Caring about the home we are given and the inhabitants within it naturally became a big part of my life as I began to learn more about the world, its workings, history, and injustices. I think that a person’s respect for and sense of personal responsibility for the environment reflects on their person and character.
Nikelsy Ureña (she/her)
Hello! My name is Nikelsy Urena I’m 19 and a student at Washington College in Chestertown, MD currently studying environmental studies with a minor in marketing and education studies. I lived in the Dominican Republic up until the age of 9 and have been living in Queens, New York ever since. I enjoy learning, watching documentaries, and taking care of my plants.
Most excited about: I’m most excited about sharing space, learning, and getting to know like minded individuals interested in all things environment.
Why food is important to me: After learning a little bit about farming in my ENV course I gained a lot of interest in regenerative farming and I’m fascinated by the way food grows and the impact it has not only on our body but our environment and communities.
Steve Rengasami (he/him)
My name is Steve i grew up in Queens, New York. I am a sophomore in high school at Thomas Edison and in my free time i like to ride my bike
Most excited about: I'm most excited to see all the process that the farmers go through to get us our food
Why food is important to me: Food is important to me because of the process that people are working hard in all types of weather and conditions to get us our food and we should be grateful for it.
Mustafa Elimamali (he/him)
Good day! My name is Mustafa Elimamali, and for those interested, my last name is pronounced elee-mam-ali. I am a Brooklyn-based 16 year old who has a fond interest in nature, gaming, sports, and chess. In my personal shares of encounters with nature, I found that I deeply loved activities like camping and hiking and I try to grow food at opportunities I get.
Most excited about: Getting to meet all these people working with GrowNYC!
Why food is important to me: Food is important to me because it represents a sign of unity. When my family gathers to enjoy a meal, we all have a sense of unity and great spirit which motivates me to do better.
Raylin Rafael Nunez Sanchez (he/him)
Hello! I am Raylin Rafael Nunez Sanchez, I am 17 years old and I was born on December 9, 2005. I am from the Dominican Republic. I moved to the United States when I was 15 years old in search of a better life. Little by little I was adjusting to my new life in the United States. During those years I did various activities to improve my skills such as photography, painting, computer and learning more English, and now in GrowNyc I hope to get new skills such as gardening.
Most excited about: Learn more about food justice and meet new people.
Why food is important to me: Why food is important to me: When I think about food, sometimes I think that there are many people who don't have the same opportunity as me, that really makes me feel bad. And the truth is that I would love to find a way to help everyone who needs food, this being one of my goals.