Quinn Youth Leadership Award Recipient Agata Bykovtsev

agata-2Agata Bykovtsev, a 2012 Cooke Young Scholar, is rising high school junior from Goleta, California, and a world ranked chess player. She is a female FIDE (World Federation of Chess) master, a female FIDE (World Federation of Chess) master, a WIM (Woman International Master), and a national chess master. As a national chess master, she is one of only 24 women in the United States. Agata was a gold medalist at the Pan American Chess Championship in 2014 and the North American Junior U20 Chess Championship in 2015.

She is one of two recipients of the 2015 Matthew J. Quinn Youth Leadership Award, which she received for spending the past year volunteering with the Isla Vista Afterschool Project teaching chess to low-income elementary school children in a program she created.

“Agata recognizes that chess builds character and intellect, first by developing our insight, by teaching us to anticipate, to weigh, and to overcome obstacles; then by teaching us to recognize, to evaluate, and to seize opportunities,” one of Agata’s teachers, Dr. Michael Wilds, praised the Cooke Young Scholar.

Agata designed the curriculum, prepared lessons plans, purchased the chess sets for the program with her own money, although she herself has limited means, and coached chess to students during afterschool hours. Agata hopes to help build logic and strategic thinking skills in young children.

“She is an accomplished violinist, a voracious reader, and a person of many other exceptional abilities and accolades,” continues Dr. Wilds, “but the accomplishment of which I am most proud is the time, energy, and commitment she has invested in her own community.”