The Young Alumni Award is awarded each year to that alumnus/a from the past five years who has demonstrated excellence in personal achievement or community service since leaving CRS.

2020 Award Recipient


When Malik Gomes Cruz, Class of 2015, accepted the CRS Young Alumni Award during the final assembly last spring, he took the opportunity to speak directly to CRS students of color: “To all the Black and Brown students, know that your achievements are extraordinary. Always strive to do the impossible.”

During the virtual address, he also thanked his CRS teachers for cultivating a love of lifelong learning. In particular, he thanked middle school teachers Chris Raskin and Leigh Hutchinson for teaching him to be a global citizen. Malik said, “While I didn’t realize at the time, I was becoming an advocate for social change. They cultivated my passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Who I am is, in part, is because of Charles River School’s commitment and its dedication to forming socially aware students.”

After graduating from CRS, Malik attended Cambridge School of Weston, where he served as a dorm leader and a student leader for the Diversity Committee, Gay-Straight Alliance, Gender and Sexual Minorities, Queer People of Color, and Students Advocating for Life without Substance Abuse. He also participated in the NAIS People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference. During his time at CSW, Malik was closely involved in the planning and execution of numerous campus events, including Diversity Day, Social Justice Day, Culture Fest, Dance Concert, Evening of the Arts, New Student Orientation, and more.

Director of Student Programs for Equity & Inclusion at CSW, Jordan Clark, who worked closely with Malik on a number of projects, describes him as a “truly strong leader at CSW.” Jordan went on to say, “The core of Malik’s skill set is his ability to listen to those around him and always be willing to adapt. He leads with an empathy that allows him to connect with people in a sincere way. I cannot wait to see how Malik continues to use his opportunities to grow and affect change in the world.”

In spring 2019, Malik was accepted to the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program at American University. As a member of this program, Malik received a full scholarship for all four years of his collegiate career. “It feels beyond surreal to win this incredible award,” Malik shares. “With the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program, I will be able to continue my passion for social justice advocacy and leadership. The FDDS program will provide me with the resources and connections I need to grow as a learner, student, and leader. I am extremely excited to be working with the other students in the program and esteemed faculty as I progress throughout my college years. I have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity and I plan to take advantage of it fully.”

Malik is in his sophomore year at American, where he is studying public relations and strategic communications.

Previous Award Recipients

List of 4 items.

  • 2019 - Owen Asnis '15

    Owen Asnis '15, the 2019 recipient of the CRS Young Alumni Award, attended Noble and Greenough School before matriculating to Harvard College. Owen achieved at a high level academically and earned many leadership roles during his time at Nobles. He served as co-president of the student body and led with his hallmark inclusivity, positivity, and enthusiasm. Owen was also elected as a captain of the varsity cross country team and was president of the Nobleonians, the male a capella group.
    At Nobles, Owen also served as a Prefect to the Head of School and a lead tour guide, participated in a student-run a capella group, and was a four-year bass guitar player in both the blues and jazz bands. He was the go-to bass player at the school and frequently supported other students in morning assembly performances. For four years, Owen served as the video coordinator for the boys’ varsity hockey team, utilizing the XOS digital platform to provide the team with in-game video feedback. He enjoys service work and has formed a special connection with the Immigrant Family Services Institute in Boston, where he has volunteered.
    Owen looks forward to participating in the Institute of Politics, student government, and activism at Harvard. He is a doer and someone who cares deeply for others; he is a role model, a loyal friend, and a true optimist.
  • 2018 - Emily Whitten '14

    Emily Whitten ’14, the 2018 recipient of the Charles River School’s Young Alumni Award, is a passionate voice for social justice – whether galvanizing her friends to make holiday cards for incarcerated minors, ensuring that local elementary school libraries have books that represent diversity, or attending rallies and demonstrations in Boston. There is no doubt that her interest in social justice is rooted in the 7/8 curriculum and in her involvement with the CRS Model UN program. She took to heart what she learned at CRS, and has continued to strive to consider others' perspectives and to take action where she can.
    For two years, Emily served on MA State Senator Karen Spilka’s youth council, providing her with the opportunity to weigh in on pending legislation at the State House, observe lawmakers in session, and help strategize ways to increase the involvement of youth in the government. She was also selected as one of the Massachusetts representatives at the World Affairs Seminar held at Carroll University, an annual program that brings together students from around the world for a week-long intensive seminar on education and social justice issues.
    In high school, Emily was an active member of the National Honors Society and committed many hours to community service. For the past four years, she has spent several weeks each summer volunteering for a summer academic enrichment program for elementary children. She was a founding member of the Natick High School Peer Advocates, a group created to encourage conversations about diversity and inclusion within the Natick High School. Through this group she was trained by “Facing History and Ourselves” to moderate difficult discussions; subsequently, she helped plan an evening of speakers last April called "Brave Conversations," where she led a breakout session.
    As a member of the NHS Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Emily presented to local educators about discussing LGBTQ topics in the classroom with middle-school aged students. Emily is also a founding member (and one of only two students) of the Natick Freedom Team, an organization comprised of government officials, clergy, and public safety officers dedicated to fostering unity within the community.  One of their first initiatives has been to establish a hotline, monitored by the Natick Police, to report biased-motivated threats, violence, and harassment. In addition to her academic demands, Emily has worked at the Natick afterschool program for years.
    Emily believes strongly in giving back to CRS and has actively volunteered at the school since she graduated – as an assistant field hockey coach, an Open House tour guide, speaking on admissions panels, and preparing mailings. She has returned to work with the CRS GSA to discuss developing resources for CRS families to learn about LGBTQ+ topics, and presented to Spanish classes about her travel in Costa Rica.
    This June, Emily graduated from Natick High School and was the recipient of four different awards and scholarships: Global Citizenship Achievement Award; Virginia Tartakoff Social Studies Award; Katie von der Leith Spirit Scholarship; Johnson Elementary School Scholarship. She will join the class of 2022 at Bryn Mawr college in Pennsylvania this fall. We congratulate Emily on her extraordinary achievements and on receiving the 2018 CRS Young Alumni Award!
  • 2016 - Lily Hicks '14

    After graduating from CRS, Lily attended Phillips Exeter Academy. This fall, she transferred to Nobles, where she is involved with the community service tutoring program.

    Lily was invited to represent Exeter at the National Student Leadership Conference. Lily earned the invitation by scoring 99% on the PSAT. She chose a program at Yale Law School, where she received the Best Mock Trial Lawyer Award. At Yale, Lily learned about the Youth Court program, where she plans to volunteer next summer in a court room environment helping troubled youth.

    At Exeter, Lily worked as a volunteer tutor in the center for grammar and writing, which was a natural extension to her involvement at The Exonian, the school’s weekly newspaper. As the Boston Globe Spotlight Team published its series on sexual misconduct at boarding schools, Lily was chosen to cover the sexual misconduct articles for The Exonian.
    She tutors 6th graders from Roxbury to prepare them for entrance exams for Charter and Private Schools, some of whom speak English as a second languag​e.

    ​Lily​ is currently a member of the Young Democrats, Young Republicans and Students for Gender Awareness, which focuses on feminism. She also rides horses competitively and is active on the ski team.
  • 2015 - Emily Chen '13

    Ever since 8th grade, Emily has played with the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.  This group is comprised largely of high school and college age musicians and as an eighth grader Emily was the youngest musician in the orchestra.  A few days after graduating from CRS, she toured with them in the Netherlands. 

    Last season the orchestra Music Director asked Emily to mentor a 10-year old violinist as her stand partner last season. Her “buddy” experience at CRS provided the necessary skills for Emily to help a very young boy with no orchestral experience to perform advanced repertoire with much older musicians. This mentorship spanned the regular season and their second European Tour, where BPYO performed in the major concert halls of Prague, Berlin, Lucerne, and others.

    In addition, Emily won a position in both the Eastern District Senior and the Massachusetts All-State Orchestras, and earlier this month she was a prizewinner at the annual Roman Totenberg Young Strings Competition.

    Community service is very important to Emily.  She has been involved with outreach projects as a fellow at the Center for Development of Arts Leaders under National Public Radio’s From the Top, where she teaches and performs in diverse settings.  At Winsor she emceed the traditional Winsor Banner Ceremony, serves as an admissions tour guide, writes for the school newspaper and two weeks ago she was the featured artist in the ceremonial opening of the school’s new fine arts/athletics center.  She is also a member of the Winsor School crew team and swim team!

    Emily would probably credit a lot of her success to her foundation at CRS, transforming from a shy and cautious Pre-Kindergartener to a confident and self-motivated young woman.  Emily, we are all proud of your extraordinary achievements and are honored to call you a CRS alumna.
Charles River School is a PreKindergarten through Grade 8 independent school that honors the pursuit of academic excellence and the joy of childhood. We nurture each child by igniting curiosity, encouraging creativity, and cultivating intellectual engagement. Our graduates know themselves, understand others, and shape the future of our diverse world with confidence and compassion.

Charles River School admits students of any race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin in administration of its educational or admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.