Meet the Junior Docents

Junior Docents are students from the seven Yonkers public high schools, representing culturally, economically, and socially diverse communities of the City of Yonkers. Many Junior Docents are first generation or recent immigrants to the United States; currently, the students in the Program speak seven different languages. They have an array of interests, including science, fashion, art, dance, history, business, and medicine.


The Program is further enriched by a large number of alumni who stay involved with the Museum after graduation. Alumni have gone on to attend such colleges and graduate programs as: Binghamton University, Brown University, The City College of New York, Columbia University, George Washington University, Howard University, Hunter College, Manhattan College, New York University, Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Engineering, Stony Brook University, and Yale University.

The Program’s Alumni Network offers events throughout the year, and the newly formed Junior Docent Alumni Committee invites graduates of the Program to act as mentors in a variety of capacities.

The Museum actively welcomes alumni to join the Alumni Network. Please contact Pedro Betanzos at for speaking engagements, mentoring, and reunions.

Meet the Class of 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018, and some of our alumni from previous years below.

Class of 2023

We are proud to recognize our recently graduated seniors. Congratulations!

Read a note from Pedro Betanzos, Manager of Youth and Family Programs, here.

Asiyah Abbas Vassar College

Ulizes Atlixqueño University of Rochester

Cassandra Baez Fordham University

Alberline Castillo Manhattanville College

Swapna Elizabeth Chavara Binghamton University

Margaret Doran James Madison University

Leah Dourmashkin Vassar College

Emmanuella Maameyaaba Essein Addai Manhattanville College

Amna Ishaq Macaulay Honors at Lehman College

Aanya Soman SUNY Buffalo

Alvin Tom University of Rochester

Rowan Tucker Westchester Community College

Alumni Stories

Hannah Demirovic (Class of 2020) studies at Stony Brook University. Despite the effect of the pandemic and lockdowns on the last few months of her time as a Junior Docent, Hannah says, “The Junior Docent Program helped me deal with the stress of school and the sadness of not being able to see my friends on a regular basis. I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of a program like this. I know that the other Junior Docents, like myself, loved having the opportunity to express our creativity, as well as share our thoughts and ideas while getting through these stressful times. Not only does the Program motivate Junior Docents and urge them to use their creativity, but it also reminds us that we are still part of a community, whether we interact face to face or not.”

Gloria Galeno (Class of 2020) is also a recent graduate of the Junior Docent Program. Currently a student at Adelphi University, Gloria says, “The JD program is important especially now because it serves as a distraction from all the chaos going on in the world.”

Kathleen Leite (Class of 2019) is from Yonkers, of Portuguese and Ecuadorian descent, and is currently a student at the University at Buffalo. Reflecting on her time as a Junior Docent, Kathleen says, “New high school students are just beginning a new chapter in life. It’s sometimes a struggle to reach out for the opportunities we see, afraid of embarrassment, mistakes, and failure. The Hudson River Museum’s four year Junior Docent Program helped me gain more confidence, step out of my comfort zone and create my next chapter. I felt like part of a community, a family.”

Rommyani Basu (Class of 2017) graduated from the Junior Docent Program in 2017 and is a senior at SUNY New Paltz working towards a bachelor’s degree in marketing and economics. In 2019, Rommyani interned for the Department of Advancement and Communications at the Hudson River Museum. “What I liked most about the Junior Docent program was the network I was able to build within my hometown community. It was also a key factor in my decision to pursue business. My relationship with the Museum is a great accomplishment that I often share with people when they’re getting to know me. How many students can say they’ve worked at a museum before?”

Esther Shaji (Class of 2017) is a graduate of Yonkers High School, and is currently attending Stony Brook University, studying Biology with the hopes of pursuing a career in medicine. She spent Summer 2017 working at the Hudson River Museum as the Summer Camp Manager, helping to organize schedules for visiting campers and leading many programs. “I chose to be a Junior Docent because I wanted to be able to give back to my community in a unique and exciting way, and the Junior Docent Program was exactly what I was looking for. I was able to not only help kids, but people of all ages. I knew I was making an impact, which enriched my experience as a Junior Docent even more. I came into the Program shy and insecure, and four years later I am outspoken and confident. This Program gave me more than I could have ever asked for, and for that I’ll always be grateful.”

Baluanne Conteh (Class of 2015) graduated from Palisade Preparatory School in 2015, and is currently a senior at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is studying English and Criminal Justice, and has a minor in Creative Writing. “One of my favorite memories is leading workshops with my docents every weekend and learning about Glenview. There isn’t just one memory I have but several that I hold close to me. Being a docent was probably one of the better decisions I made while in high school. It really taught me commitment is key in a workplace and building a rapport with the people around you will definitely help you out in the future. And hey! It looks really good on your resume.”

DeShawn South (Class of 2010) has stayed closely involved with the Museum ever since he graduated from the Junior Docent Program. In 2016, he was hired as the full-time Program Manager at the Hudson River Museum, managing the visitor services staff and front-of-house operations and helping to facilitate many of our public programs. “Before joining the Junior Docent Program, standing up and speaking in front of a group of people seemed nearly impossible. I still remember how I would be paralyzed by fear before any presentation. Now, in my work, I interact with the public every day, and get up and speak before large crowds. The Program has given me essential skills that I will continue to use for the rest of my life, such as public speaking, networking, and a deeper appreciation for art and my community.”

Adam Ray (Class of 2002) is now the principal flutist for the Lehman College Symphony Orchestra, second flute and piccolo for the Yonkers Philharmonic Orchestra, and a player for the Lehman Community Band. He also does solo and small ensemble work at various musical venues. In the summer of 2017, the Hudson River Museum was thrilled to welcome him back as he played with Yonkers Philharmonic at the Hudson River Museum Amphitheater.