This summer’s Bank of America Student Leaders haven’t had much luck getting summer jobs in the past.
Miriam Roochvarg, a rising senior at American Hebrew Academy, was an au pair one summer. Emily Yue, a rising senior at North Mecklenburg High, helped out with her family’s business. The others have baby-sat.
“Not many people want to hire, but if they are, you have to be 18,” said Morinne Osborne, a rising senior at Ardrey Kell High.
But getting a paid job through the Bank of America Student Leaders program was just a bonus for what five area girls said they experienced this summer. The national program was started in 2004 to help give teens summer jobs.
The five applied for the eight-week program and were chosen because of their demonstrated desire to improve their communities. The national program places high school students with nonprofits to simultaneously employ them, offer professional experience and give a boost to local nonprofits.
Savannah Cox, a recent Northwest Cabarrus High graduate, Amaranth Weiss, a rising senior at Northwest School of the Arts, and Morinne all worked for Freedom Schools Partners, which provides summer educational programs for at-risk students.
The girls worked at the central office, picked up and delivered supplies, taught classes and helped facilitate activities.
“We got to see the inner workings of a nonprofit, which is not an experience I expected to get before college,” Amaranth said.
Learning is supposed to be fun and hands-on at Freedom Schools, and to spice up a lesson on density, Savannah dressed up as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Morinne as Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants.
“It was cool to see the kids excited about learning,” Savannah said.
Amaranth was surprised to learn that many children who eat free or reduced breakfast and lunch often don’t get a third meal at home. She wanted kids to have exposure to fruits and vegetables and learn that they’re tasty and healthy.
So she got six farms in Cabarrus County to donate produce, and she sent 60 brown bags home with students. Amaranth also brought in samples of produce for kids to learn about.
Miriam and Emily worked at the YWCA in the office twice a week and helped teach summer programs three days a week at Sunridge and Sugaw Creek youth centers.
“We even (had) our own offices,” Emily said, noting it was a new experience to clock in, make spreadsheets, change the marquee letters outside and attend meetings.
Emily said she saw there’s a disconnect between nonprofits and young people who can – and want – to help, and she’s now inspired to help change that.
The Student Leaders program also took the five on a weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., where they attended workshops on topics including financial literacy, mock Congress and city council meetings, and finding solutions to community problems.
The five said the program has influenced what they want to do in the future.
Savannah, who will attend Brevard College, hopes to enter the Teach for America program after college and someday become a principal.
Morinne, who used to want to be a plastic surgeon, now wants to work in clinics in developing countries and use plastic surgery to help people with cleft palates.
Amaranth always wanted to get her Ph.D. in anthropology and do research, but now she wants to make a bigger impact and become a public school teacher.
Emily thought she might go into engineering, but after meeting with Sen. Kay Hagan and her staff this summer at the trip, she wants to go into local government to be involved in policy-making.
And Miriam now wants to someday be involved in a nonprofit or organization that helps kids reach their full potential.
“Our minds have really been revved up,” she said. “I’m ready to get back to school and hit the ground running.”
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