This summer, members of Bank of America’s Student Leaders program were assigned internships at Boys & Girls Clubs locations throughout Chicago. They worked side-by-side with leadership at the youth development organization to advance the academic achievement, character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles of their peers. In the process, these civically minded students learned a lot about themselves and their aspirations for the future.
A new experience
Antwan Gallion passed on his usual summer job at a law firm for a Student Leaders internship at the Wendell Green Club on Chicago’s South Side. His job was to pitch in wherever needed and serve as a positive role model for his students. “I explained to the kids about where I’m at and that I’m going to college; they really liked that,” said Gallion. “And I’ve come to find out that I can have a great effect on their lives by just being there with them.” He encourages students to network and explore different career paths – and he’s encouraging his younger brother to join the Club next summer.
A shared mission
Deborah Smiley’s life is centered on helping children, because she has a son of her own. When she was accepted into the Student Leaders Program after graduating high school, she was thrilled to learn about her assignment at the Club Support Center of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago. Her goal is to someday run a nonprofit that introduces low-income youth to positive role models. “These children here, they’re at the point where they need a role model,” she said. “They need that person that’s going to come up to them and be like, ‘don’t give up…you can rise above.’”
A life lesson
Jarrel Washington interned at the Morgan Park Boys & Girls Club on Chicago’s South Side, manning the front desk and supporting an arts education program. He takes very seriously his responsibility to give back, since he grew up in foster care and benefited from opportunities along the way. This job taught him that kids understand more than adults realize, and it’s important for mentors to help them grow from their experiences, no matter how negative. “When you know better, you do better,” he said. “So, it’s very important that we have role models for these kids.”
The work of these three students builds on the decades-long relationship between Bank of America and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago. The bank named the organization a Neighborhood Builder last year, in addition to providing summer interns over the past 10 years. “Somebody gave me a chance, now I want to make sure that other folks, other kids, have that chance,” said Julie Chavez, corporate social responsibility market manager.