Leader Bios: Meet Gennaro, Michelle, Jack & Rachel!

Gennaro Valant – Scottish Highlands

Gennaro Valant will be trading the Green Mountains of Vermont for the arguably even greener mountains of Scotland this summer, as he joins us to lead our Scottish Highlands trips! A rising senior at UVM in Burlington,VT, Genarro studies Outdoor Education and Community Development. Outside of the classroom he leads trips for the UVM Outing Club and coordinates leaders for an outdoor residential program. Gennaro is, as you may have gleaned by now, “all in” when it comes to outdoor education. This wasn’t always the case; though he did trips with an organization similar to Apogee in his youth (sparking an interest in the outdoors), it wasn’t until an epiphany five years ago that he realized the path he was to take. Since then, Gennaro has spent two summers working for Avid 4 Adventure in Colorado, leading trips and teaching adventure activities such as rock climbing, and mountain biking. He also led a Leaders-in-Training program at Avid, where helped facilitate leadership development for 10th graders, and in 2018, Gennaro spent 105 days in the backcountry – that’s almost a third of the year! Gennaro’s love of natural landscapes is matched only by his love of working with students and experiencing the world with their perspective of wonder. With his extensive field experience and wonderful positive attitude, we just know that our Scottish Highlands trips are in for an amazing summer across the pond!

Michelle Mouw – Scottish Highlands

We are thrilled to have Michelle Mouw joining our team this summer to lead our Scottish Highlands trips! Growing up in Beijing, China, Michelle was exposed to people from many backgrounds, and though Beijing was awash in culture, it lacked natural spaces. Michelle’s real introduction to the outdoors happened at a summer camp in Minnesota, where it soon bloomed into a full-blown love of being outside and adventuring. This, in part, is what led her to decide to take a gap year before beginning college at Northeastern. During this year of exploration she traveled through Europe before completing a 60-day NOLS semester in the Pacific Northwest, learning valuable technical skills and exploring the backcountry. Now a rising senior, Michelle studies psychology and does her best to take full advantage of the opportunities at Northeastern; she has spent 6 months in NYC working for an advertising firm and is currently working for The Boston Consulting Group. She also spent last summer with Northeastern in Cape Town, South Africa, where she assisted entrepreneurs with business strategy. Travelling is clearly not new for Michelle, and, unsurprisingly, neither is working with students. During a portion of the aforementioned gap year, Michelle also found time to work with a Beijing organization that takes students on tours around the city. In her free time, Michelle loves to cook, play guitar and ukulele, and write music. We are excited for her to bring her amazing energy and experiences with her on her trips this summer!

Jack DeAngelis – Alps Explorer

After two summers with Apogee, Jack DeAngelis is back for more – this time heading to Europe to lead our Alps Explorer trips – and we couldn’t be happier to have him back! Jack grew up in Connecticut, and to say he has wide-ranging interests would be an understatement. Now approaching his 2019 graduation at the University of Richmond, you can find this English Literature major honing his skills as he curls up with a good book or serving as a consultant at the school’s writing center. On the other end of the spectrum, you may have to pick up your pace to keep up with him as he blazes through miles as an avid runner. Jack is such a dedicated athlete that he has logged 252,631 racing meters and counting (and thousands more while training) – catch him if you can! Jack balances his intellectual and athletic pursuits and even finds time to give back to the community. An executive board member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national community service fraternity, he also loves working with kids and spent the summer of 2016 working with teens at a YMCA summer camp. He is, if you will, a Jack of all Apogee trades: in 2017, his writing skills shined on our Maine Coast College Essay trips, and last year, he donned a helmet and hi-viz bike jersey as he led our Pacific Coast bike trips. Ready to complete the specialty, biking, and hiking trip trifecta, Jack is specifically looking forward to singing “The Hills are Alive” this summer as his groups tromp through the Alps!

Rachel Zuckerman – Alps Explorer

Fellow third-year Apogee leader Rachel Zuckerman brings her boundless energy and passion for working with kids to our Alps Explorer trips this summer. Rachel hails from Scarsdale, NY – where she grew up in a house that was once used by George Washington and his army as sleeping quarters! It was in Scarsdale where Rachel began to hone her leadership skills as she worked with kids of many different ages. In 2014 and 2015, Rachel worked in a “Summer Reading Buddies” program, mentoring multilingual students and helping them maintain their English skills through the summer. It was also around this time that Rachel discovered her love for the outdoors, going so far as to create her own biking and hiking itineraries near her hometown. She has also worked as an assistant in a special needs classroom and spent a summer as a yoga instructor at a day camp. Now a soon-to-be 2019 graduate of Hamilton College, Rachel is a wilderness trip leader for the Hamilton Outing Club and spent her most recent Spring Break trekking to Annapurna Base camp in the Himalayas in Nepal! Rachel led our Cape Cod & the Islands bike trips in 2017 and our Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and Maine Coast Junior trips in 2018, and we’re thrilled to have her back on our team again this summer!