Alumni Connections: A Panel Discussion Facilitated By Matt Bellace
We’ve assembled representatives from different generations of TIGS & LMTI who are ready to talk about the impact that the program had on them as high school students, and how it continues to impact their life today. Read more about our panelists below!
Himani Patel has been involved with LMTI for nearly 20 years. She started as a TiGer back in 2001, was a YAC the following year, a member of the CATS for several years, and has been a YAC & CATS Coordinator. Her commitment to healthy communities and dedication to helping the underserved access quality healthcare is exemplified by her years as a Director at St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson New Jersey and her service as the President of the Board of Directors of Partners in Prevention (LMTI’s parent organization!). Himani currently resides in Montclair New Jersey with her husband Prince.
Cole is the lab manager at the Austin Thought Lab at the University of Texas, where he studies how young children think about abstract concepts like time, number, and color. He studied Psychology and Human Development at the University of Maryland. Outside of work, Cole spends his time watching and drawing cartoons or skipping rocks. He wears a Hawiaiian shirt every Friday. He first attended LMTI in 2011 with the Pennsvile Memorial High School Action Group, and continued to participate as a YAC in subsequent years.
Andre Richburg (known as Dre in the TI world) is a nearly 20-year veteran in the higher education, college admissions field. Hailing from Passaic, NJ, Dre was a TIGger back in 1994, a YAC the following year, part of the inaugural year of College Track in 1996, a 3-year CAT, member of the TI staff as well as a YAC and CATS coordinator. Dre’s passion for inclusion, access and success for individuals from marginalized populations is exemplified by his creation of diversity programs in the Garden State, support for underserved students in college and educating professionals on the needs and resources for this segment of our society. Dre currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Liz.
Madie Jones first attended LMTI since 2015 as a camper, before continuing on with roles as a Youth Advisory Council member, a volunteer, an advisor, and a College Age Staff Member. She currently attends Montclair State University as a Theatre Studies major, with a concentration in Education. For fun, she enjoys listening to new musicals and participating in theatre in any way possible. She is heavily involved in community theatre, as well as her school’s theatre club. Madie credits LMTI for making her the person she is. She says TI gave her a supportive community all while teaching her confidence, self love, and the power of positive change. She loves getting to watch youth realize they have the power to make positive change in themselves and their communities.
Mark first came to TIGS/LMTI for Week 1 in the summer of 1991. He never had the privilege of attending TI as a participant as he was going into his senior year in college the first time he volunteered. Former TIGS Director, Doug Bratton, who Mark has been friends with for 40 years (although a few less years back then!) dragged him to TIGS and he came back every year until 2004! Mark came back as a volunteer from 1992-1994. When a full-time position opened up at TIGS, Mark jumped at the chance to make the TI magic happen! He was on full-time staff from 1995 to 2001. During his time as a TIGS Project Advisor, Mark served as a YAC Coordinator, College Track Director, and travelled around the state to see TIGerS in their home habitats! Mark is thankful for all the knowledge he learned, the skills he honed, the confidence he gained, and especially the lifelong friendships he formed. Mark currently helps the people of Pennsylvania find green commutes to work to help improve the air quality in the region. When he’s not working, Mark loves watching/talking about/writing about/doing trivia about movies and tv shows. He has also been known to drop a pun from time to time.
Dre Espinosa was born in Colombia and came to the United States when she was 7 years old. She lived in Hamilton, NJ and then moved to Garfield at age 13. A 2004 graduate of Garfield High School, Dre went to Kean University where she received her undergraduate degree, and to West Virginia University where she received her Master’s Degree. For the past ten years, she has taught health and physical education in Garfield, and will be starting her first year at Passaic County Technical Vocational Schools this year. Dre first attended camp in 2002, went back as a YAC in 2003, and as a CATS member in 2005. In her spare time, she likes to travel, play basketball, and has recently taken up photography.