Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success

Strengthening and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at Virginia Commonwealth University

Cameron Mattex crouches on a tennis court to speak with a youth tennis program participant.

As children, Cameron Mattex and Mitsuko Cedras enrolled in programs offered by the VCU Mary and Frances Youth Center. Now they work as counselors for the same programs they attended.

In 2015, Cameron Mattex and Mitsuko Cedras attended Discovery, a summer camp led by the Mary and Frances Youth Center for rising sixth- to eighth-graders. The weeklong program allowed them to take all sorts of classes – including science, technology, engineering, arts and health sciences – on Virginia Commonwealth University’s campus.

The Discovery program was discontinued in 2020, but the positive experiences Mattex and Cedras had there influenced their lives for years to come. Cedras, now a first-year VCU student majoring in criminal justice with a minor in social welfare, attended the Discovery program for three years. Mattex, a first-year VCU student majoring in health services with minors in business and public management, recalls meeting great camp counselors and peers, including her future freshman year roommate. She also attended Lobs & Lessons, a youth enrichment program at the Mary and Frances Youth Center that strengthens life skills, promotes academics and creates a path to higher education through tennis.

A tennis court covered in cones. Counselors and campers are standing around it.
Mitsuko Cedras guides students. The Mary and Frances Youth Center serves more than 600 youth each year. (Mary and Frances Youth Center)

As Mattex and Cedras approached the grade level where they would age out of the center’s available programming, they inquired about ways they could stay involved. As luck would have it, the youth center was in the final stages of developing its junior counselor program.

Read the full article on VCU News at

Categories Mary and Frances Youth Center, Student Recognition

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