Ron Cordero has always been a good student. In high school, he maintained a grade point average that ranged from 3.3 to 3.7. According to Ron, although his time management has not been one of his best qualities, he’s been consistent with his school work. “I try my best in every class,” he said. “I respect my teachers and they respect me.” In addition to attending Central High School where he was a successful student-athlete, he’s been working 11 hour shifts at a restaurant in downtown Philadelphia to make ends meet.
Ron’s the middle child in a family of five which includes his mom, dad, and two brothers. The Cordero Family are native to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. They moved to the United States when Ron was just 8 years old. With no beds available, they slept on the floor of a family member’s apartment in New York City before eventually moving to Philadelphia.
The recently graduated Beat The Streets Philadelphia student-athlete is a recipient of Drexel University’s Liberty Scholarship. For over ten years, the Drexel Liberty Scholars program has provided educational opportunities for students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Designed to break down barriers to higher education, the scholarship program covers 100% of tuition and fees.
Ron admits that he never would have considered attending a prestigious school such as Drexel had he not been involved with Beat The Streets. “Coach Rick (Rick Mascino) told me about the Liberty Scholarship,” says Cordero. “One of my high school friends, Boobie (Abubakare Diaby) won the scholarship and wrestles for Drexel now.”
He became involved with Beat the Streets during his freshman year of high school. Boobie and another friend, Max Cramer introduced him to the program. Ron was a football player with aspirations to learn a new sport hoping to get in better shape. “I wanted to learn more about wrestling but when I got here, I realized that the Penn and Drexel wrestlers were here as well.” There was more to the program than just wrestling.
Ron first met Drexel student-athlete Evan Barczak. Described as “always positive and always helping”, Barczak would help instill qualities in Ron’s life that he hadn’t experienced before. “Evan was very prominent in my high school career,” says Cordero. Barczak, a recent graduate of Drexel and a multiple time NCAA National Qualifier, was a mentor and coach for Beat The Streets throughout his college career.
As he learned more about the mentoring program at Beat The Streets, he eventually connected with Maximus Hale, a student-athlete at the University of Pennsylvania. They talked for over an hour the first time they met. “He’s a pretty nice dude,” says Cordero. They had a lot in common as Hale was also a two-sport athlete in high school. “I respect Max because he works hard. I got a little bit of me from Max.” Hale is an NCAA National Qualifier and USA Freestyle All-American. He’s been Ron’s mentor since they met.
Meeting weekly and sometimes more, Hale and Cordero spent a lot of time together on and off the mat. Max encouraged Ron through the scholarship application process helping with his time management skills. “I struggled with time management myself,” says Hale. “I think we helped each other during this process.”
A portion of the scholarship application involves writing an essay about something important to the applicant. Ron chose to write about food insecurity problems in the city. He realized, at a young age, how difficult it is to find healthy food options where he lives. As an athlete, this is important to Ron. “There’s a bunch of dollar stores with not very good food choices,” he says. “I did research and shared my thoughts. I hope that more people can learn about food deserts and other issues families face so we can help fix the problem.”
Ron realizes he now has an opportunity that many like him do not have. “With Beat The Streets, I’m fortunate to have an ‘anchor’ in my life,” says Cordero. “I know a lot of people don’t have this.” Ron will be attending Drexel University this Fall without the burden of school loans and tuition bills. He’s enrolled in the health and medical preparatory program at the university. Ron hopes to eventually get a degree in medicine. “I just like helping people,” he says.
“With Beat The Streets, I’m fortunate to have an ‘anchor’ in my life,”
If you would like to contribute to Beat the Streets and help to create more opportunities for kids like Ron, you can visit our Donate Now page here. If you would like to consider giving in other ways, either as a mentor or wrestling coach, please fill out one of our interest forms and we’ll be in touch!