Team Player

Through sports, Nayeli Germosen ’22 inspires Dominican girls to follow their dreams

By Kardelen Koldas ’15Photography by Kayana Szymczak
August 19, 2021

It might be hard to spot women players on the Dominican Republic’s basketball courts. But this summer, there was one particular court bustling with enthusiastic young girls thanks to Nayeli Germosen ’22, a guard on Colby’s women’s basketball team.

“In the Dominican Republic, I noticed that girls are usually just spectators, and boys are typically the ones scrimmaging. But I’m able to show them that as a girl, you can play basketball,” said Germosen. “It’s not just a male-dominated sport.”

But Germosen’s goal wasn’t just to challenge gender stereotypes about basketball in her father’s home country. Through a month-long internship with Mariposa DR Foundation, she hoped to inspire the next generation of girls to find their passions and pursue their dreams.

Mariposa, a nonprofit located in the Dominican Republic’s northern coastal town of Cabarete, aims to tackle generational poverty by educating and empowering girls. Its work resonated strongly with Germosen, reminding her of what her high school did for her. She wanted to participate in helping other girls follow their aspirations.

Germosen learned about Mariposa from Patrice Franko, the Grossman Professor of Economics and Global Studies. “It was so easy to imagine how Nayeli would connect with the girls there as a role model for strength and kindness,” said Franko. “Nayeli is a quiet change agent. She listens with her heart and looks to contribute her strong academic and interpersonal skills in meaningful ways.”

Nayeli Germosen ’22
Nayeli Germosen ’22 interned at the Mariposa DR Foundation, where she tried to be a role model for the next generation of Dominican girls and encourage them to follow their passions.

“All these girls should feel confident in themselves to achieve anything they want.”

Nayeli Germosen ’22

At the Mariposa Center for Girls, Germosen taught swimming, kickball, yoga, and basketball—which was added to the curriculum with her arrival. She also tutored math and English. “All these girls should feel confident in themselves to achieve anything they want,” said Germosen, whose internship was made possible by DavisConnects’s Koester Internship Fund, established by a gift from Trustee Michael E. Koester ’94 and his wife, André R. Koester.

Germosen spoke from experience when she expressed confidence that she would be an example and source of motivation for the girls.

Following in her mother and sister’s footsteps, Germosen has played basketball since fourth grade. When she attended Massachusetts’s KIPP Academy Lynn for high school, she not only grew as an athlete but also a student and discovered avenues that she otherwise wouldn’t. Along the way, she learned to turn setbacks into successes with determination and help from others.

“Coming to Colby was such a new environment for me because academically it was challenging me in ways that I had never experienced,” said Germosen, a global studies and education double major. So was a sophomore-year injury that sidelined her for a season. She pushed through both challenges and came out stronger as a student and an athlete. “Going through those hardships helped me connect with the girls at the camp,” she said. “I hoped to show the girls that giving up is never an option.” And that their talent only matters if they practice and stay committed to it.

“The thing that makes Nayeli special is her willingness to star in roles that may not always be recognized on a stat sheet,” said Head Women’s Basketball Coach Chenel Harris–Smith. “She’s one of our strongest players and consistently challenges and motivates her teammates to take pride in enhancing their functional strength. The standard she’s helped establish has been recognized by our staff and appreciated by her teammates.”

Germosen tried to do the same in the Dominican Republic.

To motivate the girls and instill the idea that anything is possible, she built relationships with each one. And they began to open up. “Many girls felt comfortable enough to have conversations about their future goals regardless of their income or household position,” she said. “I hope to have a long-lasting relationship with this organization so that I can contribute to making a difference in these girls’ lives and increasing their annual success stories.”

The girls made a significant difference in Germosen’s life, too. They helped her realize that she might want to work in educational policy. They also brought her closer to her heritage, teaching her new things about the culture.

Even though she’s visited the island many times in the past, this summer’s involvement with the Mariposa girls “really allowed me to dig deeper into my roots,” she said. She’s driven to continue her involvement because the community is a “part of what makes me me.”