Valley students learn about finances, nonprofits during summer internships

This story originally appeared in the Arizona Republic and is republished here with their permission.

School may have been out, but the learning didn’t stop for five Arizona high school students this summer. The lessons won’t show up as final grades, but they will take shape on their resumes and in their lives.

The five students, four from the East Valley and one from Phoenix, who were selected as student leaders as part of a nationwide program by Bank of America worked full-time as paid interns for Boys and Girls Clubs in the Valley, took a financial-education course and joined more than 200 other student leaders at a Washington, D.C., leadership summit, meeting with congressional leaders and participating in a service learning project.

“It’s been very busy, very tiring and very fulfilling,” said Coleen Barcena of Mesa, a recent Westwood High School graduate who interned at the Boys & Girls Club’s Superstition Mountain Branch in Apache Junction. “The internship taught me about managing a nonprofit. I worked at the front desk, learned about the financial side of the nonprofit and got to work hands-on with the kids.”

Aimee Cheng, also from Mesa, interned at the Boys & Girls Club’s Grant Woods Branch. She plans to apply what she learned through the financial-education component to start a finance and economics club at Tempe Preparatory Academy.

“I learned about budgeting and credit and understanding that having the right resources can improve your financial literacy. It helped me understand credit and how credit scores work,” Cheng said.

We’re building pathways to success through meaningful and relevant work experiences and financial literacy to advance economic mobility in the community.

Benito Almanza
Bank of America Arizona market president

For Brandon Pasternak, a senior at Pinnacle High School after he completes his internship at the Vestar Branch in Phoenix, the experience in Washington “made me realize I should be more active in the community,” he said. “The highlight of the trip to D.C. was going to Capitol Hill, seeing where everything happens and meeting with those who make it happen. I realized that you can stand up for what you believe and that I can use my voice to make a difference.”

The Student Leaders program “offers young people who are engaged community citizens an opportunity to build their workforce and leadership skills,” said Benito Almanza, Bank of America Arizona market president. “We’re building pathways to success through meaningful and relevant work experiences and financial literacy to advance economic mobility in the community.”

Cheng said the overall experience helped cement her plans for a career in the financial sector, but she was deeply affected “by meeting all these accomplished and successful people from all over the country, hearing their stories and joining together on issues we’re passionate about, like nonprofits and making the world a better place.”

The other two Valley-based Student Leaders were Brianna Rangel of Queen Creek, also a Westwood High School graduate, who interned at the Queen Creek Boys & Girls Club, and Trey Leveque of Gilbert, who graduated from Williams Field High School and interned at the Gilbert Boys & Girls Club.



Open Location
Open How we're involved