August 12, 2021
Favorite sports: Women's soccer - college and professional - and basketball
Favorite athlete: Crystal Dunn, the right-back defender for the United States Women's National Team (soccer)
Friends describe her as: Goofy, smart and caring
Andrea’s passions lie in supporting immigrants and bridging the educational access gap between white and minority students. These are directly because of her own experience as a DACA recipient and the struggles her family faced while trying to provide their children with the best life possible.
Born in Côte D’Ivoire, the 20-year-old lives in Burtonsville, Maryland and coaches with youth non-profit, E.S.Y.D.A. There, she teaches kids soccer while also offering educational support such as tutoring, college test preparation and coding courses. As an immigration paralegal and college student who wants to go to law school one day, she hopes to inspire the kids to dream big despite any limitations they may face.
1. What does it mean to you to be selected for the inaugural class of the Beyond Sport Youth Advisory Board (BSYAB)?
Words cannot explain how honoured I am to be a part of the new class of the Advisory Board. Being selected amongst the young people in America is one thing, but this opportunity stretches internationally, which makes it even more exciting.
When people say, ‘you can do whatever you want with hard work,’ it seems to be just words until a special opportunity as such is granted to them. I am more than excited to get to grow with this board!
2. Over the two years, what is the primary thing you are most looking forward to getting out of the experience? What do you want to learn and teach?
I look forward to the professional development this opportunity will bring forth. I have a lot of passion for social injustice but have been looking for a way to actively work at it and help organize my ideas.
As for my own contribution, I want to shine light on issues that are unique to the francophone community, and I am sure some will be familiar to other communities. One misconception is that yes, all minorities/immigrants struggle, but not everyone has the same obstacles. For change to be effective, it must be adapted to everyone’s situation.
3. Beyond Sport believes that sport for social change is more than just bringing people together to bond and bridge divides through play, it’s about using it as a platform of learning and development. When used purposefully, and with intention, it can be a powerful pathway to effective solutions to the most complex social issue of our time.
What does using “sport with intention” mean to you?
Using sport with intention means knowing that not all the kids we work for will go professional with their sport, but being assured that through it, they now know that their options in life are limitless.
4. Who do you think is getting it right in the world of social change and why?
Athletes like Lebron James, Andrew Hawkins, or who more famously started the athlete's conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement, Colin Kaepernick. In my opinion, they are getting it right. They are using their platforms to stand up for causes they believe, knowing that not everyone will be okay with what they’re doing.
Other athletes like Joel Embiid and Serge Ibaka who used their money to help their communities in Cameroon and Congo are also an honorable mention for not forgetting their own struggles and knowing the people back home still needed support.
5. How did you come to know ESYDA and can you speak more on your position with them?
Being the oldest comes with it perks and sometimes its downs. My mom sometimes refers to me as the experiment child, but not because my existence wasn’t planned. My parents are francophone immigrants that didn’t know the American system until they saw it through my experiences with my education. That made the journey easier for my younger brothers.
I loved playing soccer with my dad for fun and ended up playing for my middle school team. But with little to no knowledge about the club teams, so that I could keep playing in preparation for my high school try-outs, we knew that we couldn’t afford it. That’s where ESYDA, a non-profit soccer organization that gives the opportunity to low-income families to include their kids in a soccer club, came into play. At the time, I was the only girl playing with the U13 boys’ team.
I now coach a U10 girls’ team, and in a way, my coming back to the organization attracted and comforted a lot of parents to start bringing their daughters to ESYDA. We practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays and sometimes have scrimmages against the U8 boys’ team on Saturdays.
6. You identified bridging the educational access gap between white and minority students as your primary area of focus? What drove you to take up this issue and how are you currently working on it?
Taking mostly AP (Advanced Placement) and Honors classes in high school, I noticed that those classes didn’t have as many minority students as my one on level class (math) did. This led me to join a club called MSP, Minority Scholars Program, where I would engage in conversations to help not only raise awareness, but also actively look for ways to support struggling minority students. I decided to tutor Freshmen who were struggling in their classes.
As of now, coaching for ESYDA is my way of continuing this fight. As a college athlete coach, I am setting an expectation for not only the girls on my team, but for any player in ESYDA. They see me as an Ivorian immigrant, who stayed on top of her grades in high school, while playing sports all year round which would eventually help me get an academic scholarship to go to college and continue playing. Sports has been proven to positively impact students, as it brings discipline and routine to their lives.
7. Where do you go to school and what are you studying? Where do you want to go to law school?
I go to Trinity Washington University and am an English major and a history minor. My top three law schools goals are Georgetown, UPenn and Stanford.
8. What are your professional goals post-graduation?
I want to be an attorney. Although I have experience working in an immigration law firm, I am still open to exploring other fields, so am very much still undecided on the field.
9. Do you have a personal motto?
“If you’re going through hell, keep going” by Winston Churchill is my favorite motto. It is not always easy, but it will get better with consistency and hard work.
10. As you progress in life and your career, what legacy you hope to leave on your peers, family and community?
I hope that people remember me as a person who did everything she could to help. That’s all I want to do. I know that I am only one person and there’s only so much I can take on at a time, but I have a lot of love and dedication to bring positive change to my community, and I know it can happen.
Meet all eight of the inaugural Beyond Sport Youth Advisory Board members