Full Circle: Row New York Participants Turned Staff

Full Circle: Row New York Participants Turned Staff

by Regina De Los Santos 

Carol & Char

Carol and Char are both Row New York alumni turned staff.

One of the hallmarks of being a participant at Row New York is the sense of community that permeates the team. Because of this unity, many participants find ways to stay connected and give back. One of those ways is by transitioning from participant to Row New York staff – taking on a more hands-on role with the next generation of participants. We currently have 6 individuals who are cultivating this community through coaching, including Sabrina Ferrell, May Sanchez Herrera, Veronica Castillo, Patricia Destine, Carol Quijada and Char Rendon. These alumni are now on the other side of Row New York.

Here’s a look into Carol Quijada and Char Rendon’s experiences working at Row New York.

Carol Quijada,

How did you come into this position? What positions have you had?

I started as a volunteer for the youth and adaptive programs in 2007, then focused on volunteering with the adaptive programs, and was hired.

What are your three priorities when you do the work that you do, why?

Fun, challenges, and discipline. The order depends on the team I am coaching. Recreational rowers usually get more fun than discipline, while competitive adaptive rowers get more discipline than fun. However, all three are incorporated to make the team dynamic a positive, healthy, and supportive experience for all.

What has been one of your greatest highlights while working at RNY?

Sharing a shell with adaptive athletes in their first regatta and watching all the work we put in throughout the season play out in 1000 meters.

What’s the coolest thing about having been a RNY participant and now working for the organization?

Definitely seeing how everything works in order to make practices and resources for students possible. I also really like to apply my experience, which is from way back to the meaningful bonding between rower and coach; my athletes know where I come from and that I understand their pain and challenges.

What’s most important to you about your job?

That my athletes feel confident, safe, and strong in their journey through rowing.


Carol, second from the right, at the BAYADA Regatta with fellow alum Veronica, far right, and two of our adaptive participants.


Char, center, started at Row New York as a sophomore and then later returned as a fellow for the FAO Schwarz Family Foundation.

Char Rendon,

How did you come into this position? What positions have you had?

I started at RNY in 2005 as a sophomore in high school. When RNY created the Summer Leaders position I took that as my first opportunity to work for Row New York (excluding babysitting Wyatt and Bea!). During this time, Summer Camps and adaptive program were just beginning so I got the opportunity to see these programs grow and prosper from day one.

During my time at Binghamton University, I could never go long without spending time with my RNY family. I worked every summer with the Middle School Summer Camp program. During my time at Binghamton, I decided to focus my work of genderqueer youth of color and the nonprofit work that could offer resources to this specific community.

Having the chance to do extensive research on youth-based nonprofit work inspired me to want to work with Row New York and our students more in depth. Luckily, The FAO Schwarz Family Foundation had an opening in their fellowship for a position at RNY.

With the fellowship, I became the Assistant Novice Coach in Queens as well as the Alumni Coordinator. With seasonal changes, I wore many hats. I led our Summer Camp program, have been a Competitive Para Coach, and coached alumni rowing in Queens. Now, I am the Head Novice Coach in Queens.

What’s the thing that’s surprised you the most about working at RNY?

One thing that surprised me about working at RNY was all the behind the scenes work that has to get done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Every department is more intertwined than meets the eye and needs information and documents from each other to meet separate deadlines.

When I was a student at RNY and even when I worked part time as a coach in college I knew there were more administrative things the coaches did but I did not know the extent of it. From registrations, planning events and mixers, boathouse/boat maintenance and repair, making workout plans, following up with families, and touching base with members of the team on a one-by-one basis, there is always something waiting!