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Rocket Launch

MEET THE TEAM

Our dedicated team is devoted to uplifting and empowering underserved communities. By utilizing our unique skills, passions, and experiences, we are shape the work of our Nonprofit Organization to best serve those who have been structurally disadvantaged. We will always strive to craft programs that reflect the demands of the communities that we serve. Meet some of our incredible leaders below!

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FARES ALI
Co- Executive Director

Fares Ali is a Muslim-Egyptian student native of Nashville and a graduate of Antioch High School. Having grown up with two different cultures, Egyptian and American, Fares strives to emphasize the importance of different perspectives in the world. A political science and sociology major, Fares plans to attend law school one day as a part of his plan to make an impact in his community and the world. Fares has already started this passion project by initially co-founding LAUNCH with his friend and fellow Antioch alumnus Eric before bringing on the rest of the team after attending Vanderbilt University.

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ERIC LICONA
Co- Executive Director

Eric Licona is a proud Mexican-American student studying Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Robotics and Automation at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Growing up in and around construction sites, Eric developed a love for working with his hands which led him to his passion for engineering. Throughout his time at Antioch High School, he grew frustrated with the lack of support given to students and vowed to do something about it. Along with Fares, Eric co-founded LAUNCH  to put his thoughts and frustration into something productive and meaningful. He hopes to grow LAUNCH into a national program that can help students in need across the United States. 

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JORDAN PARRISH
 

Jordan Parrish hails from Lawrenceville, Ga, and is 20 years old. She has overcome many obstacles to get to her current state of a student at Vanderbilt University. Her journey would not have been possible without the resources provided to her by her teachers, counselors, and mentors. Her circumstances inspired her to use her position within LAUNCH to assist in providing resources to help students with circumstances similar to her own, reach their full potential. Aside from her work at LAUNCH, Jordan is an avid sports fan and loves to spend time reading, cooking, with friends, or working as a manager at her local Chick-Fil-A. In the future, while continuing work with LAUNCH, she hopes to attend medical school and spend a few years working with relief groups such as the American Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders as she believes in the uplifting of underserved communities everywhere.

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DESTINEE MARSH
 

Destinee Marsh is a bubbly and imaginative addition to our team! She has a strong passion for helping others which stems from being a child of immigrants from Liberia, West Africa and always being raised to give back to the communities that helped shape her. Destinee is a senior at Vanderbilt University studying Medicine, Health, and Society with minors in African American Diaspora Studies and Women & Gender Studies with intentions of becoming an OB/GYN that provides affordable services in underserved and minority communities. Her goal is to target the grave health disparities in the American healthcare system. When Destinee is not hitting the books, she is a 4c hair care connoisseur or finding expressive and creative outlets like painting!

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JAYLA GILLIS
Chief Financial Officer

Jayla Gillis is a senior at Vanderbilt University from Lawrenceville, GA currently studying Medicine, Health & Society with a minor in Women’s Gender Studies. Jayla has a passion for working and mentoring kids within her community. She was a youth leader at her church and also a swim coach for several years. In her spare time, you can find her at work as a lifeguard or doing hair in her dorm room. She is a self-taught hairstylist and often provides services to the women in her hometown and on campus.

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CLARA DOKYI
Chief Execution Officer

Clara Dokyi is a senior at Vanderbilt University from Providence, RI, studying Medicine, Health and Society with minors in Business and Psychology. Originally born in Ghana, Clara is proud of her heritage. She is quite involved with the African Student Union on campus and served as the Harambee Co-Chair for two consecutive years. Additionally, Clara is a volunteer for Vanderbilt Student Volunteers for Science and has worked as a teaching fellow for three consecutive summers. Clearly, Clara has a love for the youth! During her free time, you can find Clara helping her younger siblings with schoolwork, cooking, working on campus, or spending time with friends. Clara has aspirations of becoming a doctor and wants to continue to inspire young women of color to go into STEM fields.

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SAMUEL RAY
Chief Project Officer

Samuel Ray is a passionate and driven individual from Gainesville, FL who loves politics, poetry, and watching basketball. Currently, he is a senior attending Vanderbilt University studying Political Science and Philosophy, with hopes of going on to law school later in life. As a Questbridge National College Match Scholar, Samuel’s passion for working in and for under-resourced communities is inspired by his own lived experiences as a low-income student. Through LAUNCH, he hopes to help remove the barriers to students’ success.

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NIA BROWN
Chief Educational Officer

Nia Brown is a senior at Vanderbilt University studying Medicine, Health, and Society as a pre-law student. Currently, Nia tutors K-12 students in math at Mathnasium as well as 11-12th grade students in SAT/ACT prep through Brains and Brawn, LLC while interning with Elder Law and Estate Planning Solutions of the Piedmont and volunteering with Tennessee Youth Courts. Nia enjoys helping students discover their academic strengths and correct their academic weaknesses. As the Chief Education Officer for LAUNCH Mentorship, Nia oversees the development of LAUNCH educational policies and curriculum and serves as the chair of the LAUNCH Mentorship Education Committee.

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Amy Westerhoff
Chief Marketing Officer

Amy Westerhoff is a senior at Vanderbilt University studying Cognitive Studies and minoring in Computer Science and Asian Studies. During her free time, she enjoys traveling and exploring new cultures. She grew up in a Chinese and American household and understands the value and beauty of diverse cultures. She also loves to hike and has a passion for music and plays a variety of different instruments, including the piano, ukulele, and guitar. She hopes to utilize her creativity to expand Launch’s reach and impact students across the nation!

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