Leader Bios 2024: Our Caribbean Service: Puerto Rico, Caribbean Service: St. Croix, Costa Rica Mountains & Coast, and Maine Coast College Essay Leaders!

From volunteering in Puerto Rico and St. Croix, to writing in Maine, to surfing in Costa Rica, these next leaders are as impressive as they are awesome.

Leader Name: Akani Bey (he/him)

2024 Trip: Caribbean Service: Puerto Rico

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

School: Elon University, Class of 2024

Certifications: Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness Swim Safety & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Snorkeling and climbing

Highlight of the past year: Akani backpacked through the Andes Mountains to Machu Picchu during his Thanksgiving Break! 

Where you can find Akani when he’s not playing in the water: He’s probably spending time with friends or learning about different languages and cultures of the world! 

A few more reasons why Akani rocks: He was born in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, so he grew up spending time in the Caribbean snorkeling, climbing trees, and catching lizards. He loves snorkeling and scuba diving, and has even gotten to swim with Nurse Sharks. At Elon, Akani has led trips for the outdoor program for the last three years, and he also works as an Environmental Science Laboratory Teaching Assistant. Akani spent a semester abroad in Panama, where he studied the local ecology and culture, and another semester in Costa Rica where he volunteered surveying tidal pools and examining bats. Akani can’t wait to be back in the Caribbean with his students this summer!

Leader Name: Sara Littekin (she/her)

2024 Trip: Caribbean Service: Puerto Rico

Hometown: Saint Louis, Missouri

School: Boston College, Class of 2024

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Swim Safety & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Hiking, backpacking and kayaking

Highlights of the past year: Spending last summer backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park, traveling to Ireland, and managing the Boston College women’s basketball team (and getting to watch some of the best teams in the country play in person!)

Where you can find Sara when she’s not hiking or traveling: She’s probably running, playing basketball, or reading. She also loves to bake bread! 

A few more reasons why Sara is so cool: She is in a Masters Program through Boston College, working towards her Masters of Social work, and she has been working at a social work internship at a local public high school as part of her curriculum this year. On campus, Sara leads trips for BC’s Outing Club and is also very involved with one of the improv and sketch comedy groups. Finally, Sara is an Apogee alumna, and she has attended most of the Spanish speaking trips that Apogee offers (although they may look a little different than they did when she was a student)! She can’t wait to connect with her students and share an amazing summer with them in Puerto Rico.

Leader Name: Eleanor Wefing (she/her)

2024 Trip: Caribbean Service: Virgin Islands

Prior Apogee Experience: New England Mountains & Coast ‘23, Maine Coast Junior ‘23

Hometown: Wilmette, Illinois

School: Hamilton College, Class of 2023

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Swim Safety, and CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Hiking, biking, skiing, and windsurfing!

Highlights of the past year: Eleanor moved to Brooklyn and began teaching! She also had a big hiking year; she backpacked in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her sister and trekked through the Grand Canyon.

Where you can find Eleanor when she’s not hiking: She’s probably playing games! Eleanor loves card games, and Wingspan is her current favorite. She’s a big runner, and also likes slowing down by practicing yoga. When Eleanor wants a stationary activity beyond playing games, she loves to read and knit.

Other amazing facts about Eleanor: Eleanor teaches engineering lessons to 6-year-old students at a special education school in New York City. She spends a lot of time talking about local bridges (the George Washington Bridge is a class favorite), and she also gets down to earth (literally) and talks a lot about the subway system. As a Hamilton student, Eleanor was heavily involved in community outreach and opportunity projects. She served as Assistant Director of Hamilton’s service-based orientation trips! She’s very excited to be leading a service-based trip, being outside, and exploring a new place!

Leader Name: Jake Silva (he/him)

2024 Trip: Caribbean Service: Virgin Islands

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

School: Vassar College, Class of 2024

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Swim Safety & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Hiking, biking, and swimming!

Highlights of the past year: Jake had a big national park year; he took a road trip from Chicago to LA and stopped at a slew of national parks along the way. He visited a friend from study abroad in Singapore and went to some great concerts this year, too.

Where you can find Jake when he’s not jamming out at concerts: A true LA-native, Jake loves rewatching some of his favorite shows and going to the movies with his friends. He also frequents his local bookstore, reading whatever they are recommending.

More cool things about Jake: He has spent the last three summers working in the entertainment industry; he interned for a comedy show in Beverly Hills (where he booked and produced a full stand-up show), worked as an intern on the Jimmy Kimmel show, and served as a Production Assistant LA Philharmonic Association. At Vassar, Jake is a tour guide and volunteers as tutor with Matriculate, a non-profit organization helping high-achieving low income students apply and transition to college. Outside of school, Jake lived in Copenhagen for four months and in addition to speaking some Danish, he also considers himself semi-fluent in Harry Potter, as he attended a faux-Harry Potter day camp for three summers as a kid.

Leader Name: Alexis Barrett (she/her)

2024 Trip: Costa Rica Mountains & Coast

Hometown: Madison, Wisconsin

School: Denison University, Class of 2023

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Swim Safety & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Swimming, hiking, rollerblading, canoeing, both cross country and downhill skiing, paddleboarding, biking, backpacking, camping, kayaking, and teaching!

Highlights of the past year: Alexis has been living in Minnesota for the past year, and has really enjoyed being able to take frequent dips in Lake Superior, backpack on the Superior Hiking Trail, explore lots of state parks, and of course: teaching! She also went on an awesome winter backpacking trip in Canada’s Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Where you can find Alexis when she’s not teaching or exploring a new area outside: Some of her other favorite activities include singing, journaling, reading, embroidering, and learning how to play guitar.

Other amazing facts about Alexis: Alexis has spent the past year in a Graduate Naturalist program at an Environmental Learning Center in Minnesota, where she teaches classes outside and creates Spanish resources for ELL students and naturalists. She has worked as a summer camp counselor in Minnesota and recently led teenagers on trips to the Boundary Waters and Superior Hiking Trail trips. Alexis also studied abroad in Ecuador in college, which included spending a month in the Galapagos for an Independent Study project. Finally, Alexis describes herself as being a huge a capella nerd in college!

Leader Name: Captain Rudolph (he/him)

2024 Trip: Costa Rica Mountains & Coast

Hometown: Pacific Palisades, California

School: Middlebury College, Class of 2024

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC), Wilderness Swim Safety & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Backpacking, fishing, hunting, and snowboarding

Highlights of the past year: Captain through-hiked the Long Trail in Vermont and traveled around the entirety of New Zealand for three months after graduating in February! 

Where you might find Captain if he’s not hiking or otherwise enjoying the great outdoors: He loves cooking with friends and family! Captain is also a big fan of long road trips (so long as there’s a soundtrack of good jams to speed him on his way).

Other fun facts about Captain: After over five years as a camper, Captain became a counselor for several summers at his California sleepaway camp, where some of the highlights include taking his group fishing, climbing on the high ropes course, and go-karting! While studying abroad in Chile, he worked as an intern with their Forest Service, and he got to spend two hours alone in the forest with the oldest living tree in the world, taught Park Rangers how to ski, and visited the tip of South America! Within the span of two weeks, he saw the only two species of condor on Earth: the Andean condor and the California condor. Captain has also lived alone in the woods for a week surviving off the food that he hunted, fished, and foraged! 

Leader Name: Neva Cote (she/her)

2024 Trip: Maine Coast College Essay

Hometown: Williston, Vermont

School: University of Vermont, Class of 2023

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness Swim Safety & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Trail running, biking, and kayaking

Highlights of the past year: Neva lived in France for the school year where she taught English in elementary schools! She also biked from Burlington to Canada and back with her sister.

Where you can find Neva when she’s not fais du vélo (that’s biking in French…): Neva loves to read all different types of books, but especially science fiction, non-fiction books about the natural world, and French graphic novels! She also loves to spend time cooking and journaling. 

More reasons why Neva is awesome: In the eight (!) summers prior to joining Apogee, Neva worked as a mentor for the Little Bellas mountain biking camp, where she helped 7-13 year-old girls build confidence and create community through mountain biking. Neva also worked as a Teaching Assistant at UVM, and interned with the Vermont Department of Children and Families to help local families connect with community resources. She also campaigned for climate action with the Keep Vermont Cool Initiative and through-hiked all 273 miles of Vermont’s Long Trail in 2021!

Leader Name: Kazi Ishraq (he/him)

2024 Trip: Maine Coast College Essay 

Hometown: Buffalo, New York

School: Williams College, Class of 2024

Certifications: Wilderness First Aid & CPR

Favorite Outdoor Activities: Cycling, Spikeball, hiking, squash, and badminton

Highlights of the past year: Kazi went on a cycling trip around Taiwan and went hiking in Singapore!

Where you can find Kazi when he’s not cycling: Reading science fiction and detective fiction novels

Additional super awesome facts about Kazi: At Williams, he studies Philosophy and Chinese, and outside of the classroom, Kazi rides on the Cycling Team and leads hiking trips with the Outing Club. He also finds time to serve as the Co-President of the Williams Refugee Advancement Coalition, working to help resettle Afghan refugees into his community. During his time in Taiwan, Kazi worked with students on the autism spectrum, leading them multi-day outdoor excursions. Kazi loves learning new languages; in addition to his native language of Bengali, he is also fluent in English, nearly fluent in Chinese, speaks intermediate French, and – if that wasn’t impressive enough – is currently learning Korean.