By: Preethi Raju, Tahira Hamdani, & Marilynn Wong
Five Sacramento students were chosen to participate in the Bank of America Student Leaders Program. The BOA Student Leaders Program awards a paid summer internship at a local nonprofit organization and a weeklong Summit in Washington D.C. These students from Sacramento County included Tahira Hamdani; Laguna Creek High School, Anna von Wendorff; Granite Bay High School, Preethi Raju; Mira Loma High School, Marilynn Wong; John F. Kennedy High School, and Hector Flores; Cristo Rey High School. They were placed at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Sacramento where the mission is inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. “It is great that you can be there for others and make a lasting impact on their lives,” said Marilynn Wong.
This summer, the Boys and Girls Club held a Summer Quest Camp whose theme was “Time Machine”. Two hundred kids split into groups to study the different decades spanning the 1900s. The student leaders mentored club members in these classes, in addition to teaching them about nutrition and healthy living. “The Boys and Girls Club symbol is a door. Why? As student leaders we work with BGC to open the doors of opportunity and bright futures for many low-income, minority children,” said BOA Student Leader Preethi Raju. “It’s one of the most rewarding activities I have ever been a part of.”
During the fourth week of their internship, the Leaders attended the Bank of America Student Leader Summit. The participants of the Summit came from across the United States to convene in Washington D.C. They met many inspirational speakers who introduced students to issues on a local, national, and global scale. One speaker was the acclaimed author Wes More, who overcame many obstacles on the path to success. He mentioned that “It’s [leadership] not about your GPA, but your personal GPS. What direction are you headed to and who are you bringing along in your journey? Others such as Barbra Bush and Venessa Kerry talked to the Student Leaders about the power of nonprofits and their impact on the world. The Summit’s theme was “Serve, Inspire, Change!” “We can change the world by starting with our own communities,” said BOA Student Leader Tahira Hamdani.
During the weeklong trip, the interns engaged in a variety of activities. For example, they helped create Red Cross care packages for homeless veterans. In addition, they ventured into the nation’s capitol to speak to California congressman Ami Bera and congresswoman Matsui. The Leaders asked questions about national issues such as education, hunger, and health care. During their free time, they visited monuments ranging from the Lincoln Memorial to museums such as the Smithsonian. After forming lifelong connections with other similarly motivated Student Leaders across the country, the Sacramento Student Leaders have come back home more passionate than ever to serve, inspire, and change.