Queens high school students participate in Bank of America leadership program

Rockaway’s Surya Mohan (l.) and Oakland Garden’s Briana Mach (r.) were among the five interns that gained workforce experience and career skill-building opportunities under a program developed by Bank of America.
Photo courtesy of Bank of America

Two Queens high school students participated in an eight-week paid summer internship as part of a leadership program sponsored by Bank of America.

Five city high school juniors and seniors were selected to the 2023 Student Leaders for New York City initiative providing them with first-hand experience in serving their communities. As part of the program, the students, who earn $17 per hour, develop leadership and practical workforce skills while working with two nonprofits, the YMCA of Greater New York and Dream.

In New York City, teen summer employment is still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and as changing economic conditions and a job market that continues to shift, young people need access to workforce experience and career skills-building opportunities. The private sector has a role to play to help better position and support young adults for success in today’s workforce.

“By providing the pathways and resources for young adults to gain the foundational work skills and leadership experience they need to succeed, we are investing in the long-term economic growth of the entire tri-state area,” Bank of America New York City President José Tavarez said. “The Student Leaders program helps equip teens with the opportunities they need and deserve as they build their future while assisting critical local nonprofits.”

During the internship, the Student Leaders participated in a week-long, all expenses paid, national leadership summit in Washington, D.C., focused on the power of cross-sector collaboration and community advocacy. At the first in-person Summit since 2019, Student Leaders from across the nation discussed the importance of civic engagement and met with members of Congress.

The five New York City student leaders were selected from a pool of applicants, and it included Briana Mach of Oakland Gardens and Surya Mohan of Rockaway, who both interned at the YMCA of Greater New York.

“The Bank of America Student Leaders Program has provided me with the unique opportunity to develop fundamental leadership skills that will allow me to inspire meaningful change while simultaneously serving my community through my internship at the Vanderbilt YMCA,” Mohan said. “During the summit in Washington, D.C., I was given the opportunity to learn from the myriad of perspectives stemming from the diverse group of fellow student leaders. Most notably, Capitol Hill Day bridged the ability for us to meet with staffers from Senator [Kirsten] Gillibrand’s office, with whom I was able to discuss local issues such as inadequate healthcare within my community and forge ways to help my town through this obstacle.”

Started in 2004, the Student Leaders program recognizes 300 community-focused juniors and seniors from across the U.S. annually.

“Reflecting on the past eight weeks as an intern at the Vanderbilt YMCA for the Bank of America Student Leaders Program, I have immersed myself in the heart of my community and have honed my networking, leadership, and administrative skills through working with different departments every week, such as curating lifeguard schedules for aquatics to organizing summer campers’ information on Microsoft Excel,” Mach said. “From meeting our [New York] state senators and representatives at Capitol Hill to helping the Red Cross pack care packages for U.S. veterans, I truly am grateful for the opportunity to meet with the nation’s greatest leaders during the summit. Not only has this program helped fire my passion for community service and civic engagement, it has also helped me realize that the YMCA is not just a recreation center but a family for all.”