For some students, summer is a time for unwinding, perhaps taking a family vacation or just hanging out with their friends. Edward Li, Cindy Pietrakowski, and Yulin Yang had different plans.
These three Queens students and two others were selected to be included in a Bank of America program called Student Leaders. The project is geared to 200 or more high school juniors and seniors who are also active in their school community.
Each of the student leaders chosen was given an eight-week internship and an invitation to attend a national leadership summit in Washington, DC.
“I made a lot of friends that I still talk to, and I definitely will see them in my future,” Yang said.
The interns are assigned to community- based organizations that work to benefit youths and families.
Li, who lives in Little Neck, had his internship at the Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC, Yang and Pietrakowski both had internships at the YMCA of Greater New York.
As a part of her internship Yang helped facilitate programs that dealt with youth programs, healthy living and social responsibility. She also worked with Gala of NYC, a program for disabled children, as a side walker, an assistant who walks alongside horses as the disabled person rides. While being an assistant, Yang believes that she is “definitely influencing them for the better.”
Li had a different experience with his internship at the Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC. He eventually wants to go into the corporate world and the internship gave him a preview of what is to come in his prospective career.
Li found out about the Bank of America program through his high school counselor at Stuyvesant.
This upcoming fall, Li will be starting his freshman year at Brown University, where he is anticipating a major in social science and humanities. He said his involvement on his high school newspaper as well as being a coordinator for the Red Cross club developed his argumentative and organizational skills.
“This internship helped me re-evaluate my life from a different perspective. The seminar in DC allowed me to meet people from all walks of life,” Li said.
The internship opportunity has helped these students gain confidence, they said, and Yang elaborated:
“One of the things I learned at this internship was to speak up. We worked with the camp and I wanted to see other departments, so all I had to do was ask. As soon as I asked, they put me in the next day,” adding, “Best part of this experience is that you can meet people from different places.”
Her experiences in student government at the Queens High School for the Sciences at York College holding positions such as president, treasurer, and soon to be co-delegate will increase her confidence level for whatever field she chooses, Yang believes.
The rising senior is looking at colleges like Stanford and Brown with her intended major being either engineering or business, but she said “she is still unsure” of her future ambitions.
Yang’s thoughts on the seminar was more than positive. “Your network is your net worth,” she said, which speaks to all the connections she had made through her time at the summer program.
Pietrakowski, a rising senior at Maspeth High School, could not be reached for comment. She is president of the school’s Key Club.
Her internship was with the YMCA of Greater New York also and involved working with youth and learning management.