Meet 4 local teens part of Bank of America’s Student Leaders program

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We’re not sure what you were doing with your last two summers of high school, but these kids are changing the world for good.

Since 2004, Student Leaders® has been part of Bank of America’s ongoing commitment to youth employment + economic mobility. Through paid internships with local nonprofits and participation in a national leadership summit, Student Leaders gain practical work and life experience.

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Student Leaders, Dayanara, Conan, Delina, Aakash + Joyin, participate in an eight-week paid internship at a local nonprofit organization where they learn first-hand about the needs of the community and the critical role nonprofits play. | Photo provided by Bank of America

Hear from four of the five Seattleite teens participating in the program and what they have to say about their experience:

Meet Aakash Baheti

Q: Why did you apply for the Student Leaders program?

A: I applied for the Student Leaders Program with the goal of creating a difference in my community. I have witnessed several challenges but one that stood out to me significantly is a lack of appropriate clothing for individuals living on the streets.

Growing up in Washington State most of my life, I have learned that the weather here is unpredictable. Thus, I want to create some sort of textile technology in the future that will change its temperature to adapt to the temperature of the location the individual is present in.

Q: Where are you interning?

A: Through the Bank of America Student Leaders program, I have been connected with a host non-profit organization called Southwest Youth and Family Services (SWYFS) located in the Seattle Area.

SWYFS is a leading resource for low-income families and youth in Southwest King County. Since 1979, SWYFS has continually adapted to the changing landscape of the region while remaining dedicated to offering education, counseling, and youth and family development services within a welcoming environment.

Q: How do you hope to build a more diverse + inclusive society?

A: Just recently in the internship, I came up with the idea of creating a platform for students from underrepresented backgrounds to inform them about different engineering fields.

Engineering and STEM is known to lack individuals from underrepresented groups and through this platform, I hope to engage and encourage more students to get involved with engineering fields.

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Bank of America’s Student Leaders® program annually connects more than 300 community-minded high school juniors + seniors to employment, skills development, and service. | Photo provided by Bank of America

Meet Joyin Akinola

Q: Why did you apply for the Student Leaders program?

A: I wanted to become a Bank of America Student Leader because I felt like it would be a great opportunity to give back. I wanted to take this opportunity to uplift others in my community and provide them with the tools needed to thrive.

Q: Where are you interning?

A: I am interning at Southwest Youth and Family Services as their digital marketing intern. Their work providing mental health services, support for minority families, and advocacy work has been more than successful.

Q: How do you hope to build a more diverse + inclusive society?

A: I grew up in a majority white school and neighborhood and was often the only black girl in the room. I realized that I would have to go out and find or make diverse communities. I had to quickly learn what it means to advocate for myself and “speak for my community.” What used to feel like a burden, now is one of my biggest skills.

The world is now realizing the power and importance of diverse voices in all spaces, and how life-changing it is to be heard. My community does not have many safe spaces for minorities and that needs to change. Every day, whether it is at my school or my church I find ways to advocate for spaces for minorities. I look for opportunities to carve out these spaces so that progressive conversations can be facilitated and change can be made.

Meet Dayanara Almon

Q: Where are you interning?

A: This summer I am excited to be interning at the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) as an operations intern. The Technology Access Foundation works with students and teachers to make STEM education more accessible and create more opportunities for communities of color.

Q: What excites you about your internship?

A: One of the most fulfilling parts of my internship is knowing that my work contributes in some way to TAF’s work in empowering communities of color through education. I love seeing all the different layers of work that makes TAF’s work possible.

Q: How do you hope to build a more diverse + inclusive society?

A: I believe the first step to building a more diverse and inclusive society is to highlight and empower diverse voices. Uplifting those who historically have not been included and doing so through an intersectional lens. This is something that is very important to me and I strive to include this in my work, whether it’s through my writing, school projects, leadership work, etc.

Meet Conan Lu

Q: Where are you interning?

A: I am interning at the Technology Access Foundation, a nonprofit that co-manages schools in the Seattle area to promote racial equity in education.

Q: What excites you about your internship?

A: Working at the Technology Access Foundation is exciting because their mission of racial equity in education resonates with me. Their work is founded on pedagogical philosophy that centers students, and it’s amazing to see those principles in practice. I hope to pursue technology and educational equity work in the future.

Q: What drives you?

A: I’m driven by optimism. To me, being a part of a nonprofit means challenging the way things are now and believing in better futures. This belief sustains me in my work and advocacy.

Q: What are you hoping to learn from your internship?

A: I’m working on the Marketing and Communications team this summer, so I’m hoping to learn how to amplify stories through multiple mediums, from social media to journalism.

If you or a local teen you know has a passion for improving the community, learn more about eligibility criteria. Pro tip: The application period for 2023 will open in November.*

Quiz

True or False: Bank of America’s Student Leaders® program started in 2004.

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