| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff

NYJTL hosted more than 200 students at an inaugural “Leaders of Tomorrow” event at Bronxwood Preparatory Academy High School to promote student achievement and college and career readiness. The forum included workshops, a panel discussion, and keynote remarks from sports broadcaster Stephen A. Smith whose opening remarks enlightened many to the reality of the business world.

His message to the students was direct: “The person sitting next to you is not your friend, they are your acquaintance, someone you grew up with, but in the business world, they are your competition.”

In addition to Smith, the panel included author Fila Antwine, educator and artist Aiesha Turman, actor Otis Winston, producer Alonzo Brown and fashion designer Alicia Appleton. The panelists spoke about their professional experiences and answered questions from the students.

The forum began with workshops led by Antwine and film producer Brown who worked in small groups with participants from the ACES program. One of the features of the workshops was that students were able to ask advice of professionals in the specific fields which interested them.

Following the workshops, moderator Sheila Carpenter, a veteran gospel singer and producer, sang a stirring rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” before introducing each panelist to the audience of students, teachers and local government officials, including State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson.

NYJTL plans to schedule additional workshops throughout the year. NYJTL’s ACES program operates weekdays during the school year at Bronxwood Preparatory Academy serving 192 students, ages 13-18.

NYJTL’s ACES program provides free year-round tennis instruction and after-school activities to underserved New York City school children on 26 campuses, offering academic enrichment, including daily homework help, and teaching valuable life skills integrating healthy living and wellness education to promote the benefits of physical fitness.




Producer Alonzo Brown leads a workshop with aspiring young filmmakers








Stephen A. Smith fields questions from the audience 











Panelists and Moderator Sheila Carpenter pose for a group photo









State Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Bronxwood Prep Site Director Tawana Butler






Stephen A. Smith poses a question to the rest of the panelists






Bronxwood Preparatory Academy Principal Janet Gallardo (left) with Site Director Tawana Butler (right) and NYJTL CEO Deborah Antoine (center)