February 19, 2013
When he was a teenager, Didier Rouzeau ’01C learned firsthand
the importance of youth mentorship – and he learned it from none
Dave Masur ’03Ed.D., St. John’s University’s Head
Men’s Soccer Coach.
“As a kid, I participated on a youth soccer travel
team, and I played under Coach Masur,” Rouzeau explained. “So from
the ages of 14 to 18, I got to know him well and really learned a
lot, which is partly why I decided to attend St. John’s. I wanted
to play on the collegiate level for Coach Masur and, at the same
time, receive a great education.”
Now Rouzeau is using his degree to give back, working as the
Director of After School Programming at the New York Junior Tennis League. In
this role, he helps to organize academic and athletic-oriented
initiatives for kids throughout all of New York City’s five
“My staff and I work with 19 different schools, collaborating with
each one to provide the best possible after-school programs for
their kids,” he said. “Individually, my role is to create a
structure, to think beyond today and provide a vision for the
future. We hold training modules, evaluation systems and so forth
to ensure that our staff is doing a great job.”
Rouzeau and his organization run a diverse group of programs,
including cultural activities, educational projects, athletic
instruction and health-and-nutrition events.
“We only have the kids for three hours after school, and they’re
coming off seven hours in school,” Rouzeau noted. “So we try to
think of outside-the-box ways to provide them with intuitive
A major component of Rouzeau’s programs is STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), a philosophy that
emphasizes a fun and active approach toward teaching key
disciplines. For example, instead of simply learning about
reptiles, students will interact with real, live reptiles for a
unique, hands-on experience.
“We have the flexibility to provide our kids with unique moments
like that, something they don’t get in the classroom,“ Rouzeau
said. “That’s a huge benefit for the students and gives them a
truly memorable learning experience.”
Rouzeau has always had a strong desire to give back to the city’s
youth, though it was during his time at St. John’s that he first
became passionate about non-profit education. After he graduated,
he coached soccer and served as Assistant Athletic Director at Riverdale Country School in
the Bronx and later worked at the NYC Mission Society,
providing services to inner-city youth at eight different
elementary, middle and high schools.
It all culminated in the position he has today, and he credits St.
John’s with helping him realize his goals.
“I owe a lot to the University,” Rouzeau said. “It’s an institution
with incredible tradition, both in terms of sports and academics,
and it provided me with a great campus experience. The diversity,
in particular, prepared me well for what I do today, as I interact
with students and colleagues from various different cultural
From his teenage years playing under Coach Masur, to the time he
spends today training his own staff, Rouzeau’s life has been
defined by mentorship. And he’s certainly making an impact on the
city he loves.
“It feels good to give back,” he said. “And to do that now for a
living is something I find truly special.”