They are musicians, activists, scholars, and more — Gen-Z students stepping up as leaders in their community. These three Malverne High School students were honored by Assemblyman Brian Curran as young leaders in the 21st century for their dedication to their education and their commitment to helping others.
Olivia Brown, 10th grade, Malverne High School
On top of excelling in academics, Brown is a talented athlete and musician. She sings, plays volleyball and softball, and is involved in the color guard and debate team. Even more, Brown is currently an intern at an engineering firm in Manhattan where she helps professional engineers design electrical systems and draft blueprints. She credits her success to her parents and two siblings, who she says push her to be the best version of herself.
“It’s very gratifying to have my work recognized,” Brown said. “This award has motivated me to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and hopefully I can pass it forward.”
Brown was also heavily involved in the “What’s In A Name?” project, which successfully saw Linder Place, named for a high-ranking KKK member, renamed to Acorn Way.
Brown asserts that it’s important to stay aware of today’s issues and fight for change. “I received this award for righting a wrong from 100 years ago,” Brown said. “And 100 years from now there might be a young student receiving an award for righting a wrong that is happening today. It is never too late to stand up for your morals and make a small change.”
Raymond Cecere, 12th grade, Malverne High School
Cecere is the first Malverne High School student to be recognized as a National AP Scholar, and is also recognized by the College Board as a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar. He also attended the Youth Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California, where he was named a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar. He is vice president of the National Honors Society.
Alongside his achievements in academics, Cecere is also captain of the varsity tennis team, a section leader of the Pride of Malverne marching band, president of the Mechanical Mules Robotics club, treasurer of the Service Legion club, and an Eagle Scout.
One of his most impressive accomplishments is his independent study, “The Effects of the Jacobean Routes Have on Residents,” which he said allowed him to evaluate residents’ wellbeing while also conducting in-depth research into his heritage. It also helped Cecere discover he has a knack for data analysis, which inspired him to pursue a degree in Operation Research.
Cecere, an aspiring Naval Officer, will be attending a 6-week basic training at the United States Naval Academy this June.
To Cecere, this award only furthers his drive to strive for excellence. “Being recognized for my hard work feels incredibly rewarding and fulfilling,” Cecere said. “It boosts my motivation and confidence, knowing that my contributions are valued by others.”
Sabrina Ramharakh, 12th grade, Malverne High School
Ramharakh is the valedictorian of the 2023 graduating class. On top of maintaining high grades in all her classes, she is the president of student government where she works to enhance student life and advocate for student needs. She is also an athlete, and has been a starting player on both varsity soccer and varsity lacrosse since her freshman year. Her dedication has earned her the position of captain of the varsity soccer team.
Ramharakh volunteers at both South Shore Children’s Soccer Camp and Camp Curiosity, where she helps kids hone their athletic and academic skills. As if that’s not impressive enough, Ramharakh is also the section leader of the Pride of Malverne marching band, where she plays the trumpet, baritone, and euphonium.
She’ll be attending the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School in the fall, where she will pursue Economics in hopes of one day establishing a company that will benefit others.
“I’m committed to working hard and dedicating myself to my goals, with the hope of contributing to society,” Ramharakh said.
“Receiving this award means so much to me because it represents the impact that I have been able to make in my community,” said Ramharakh. “It serves as a reminder that even modest efforts can have an impact and that persistence pays off in the long run.”
Despite young people’s reputation as phone-absorbed, it’s clear that for many students — Brown, Cecere, and Ramharakh in particular — community betterment is at the forefront of their priorities.
“Young people are powerful,” Curran said in a statement. “I want to encourage young people to be bold. Change the world. Don’t be afraid to be a part of something bigger. Use your powers to make our small planet a better place. Olivia, Raymond, and Sabrina are great examples of young leaders.”