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A Delaware Hispanic Heroine

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El Tiempo Hispano

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation announced that five high school juniors and seniors from Delaware will be awarded eight-week paid summer internships at local nonprofits through the Bank of America Student Leaders program.

Although the overall economy continues to show signs of improvement, youth unemployment remains at a record high. That’s why Bank of America is focused on connecting young people to the education and training they need to succeed in the 21st century workforce.

“Early employment is a critical stepping stone on the pathway to financial security, yet young people face a number of challenges in finding job opportunities today,” said Chip Rossi, Delaware market president at Bank of America. “These internships give teens in our community the chance to develop important workforce skills while earning what for many will be their first paycheck.”

As most recent high school graduates are busy buying dorm supplies and preparing to start college, one Wilmington resident is a step ahead and already preparing for the workforce she’ll enter upon college graduation.

Nicole Meija, a recent graduate of the Cab Calloway School of the Arts, is the first in her family to attend college. Her family hails from Mexico, and upon starting kindergarten, Nicole knew virtually no English. Nicole tackled cultural barriers and rose as a leader within her community. In 2014 she received the LACC Community Service Award for Northern. She volunteers with many different organizations at school and in her community including being an ambassador for the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disabilities (DFRC). She started and independently manages a culinary club at her school. As part of this job she organized volunteer opportunities for the club at the local Ronald McDonald House cooking for and serving families staying at the home.

Nicole is among five students from the Wilmington area who were chosen for Bank of America’s Student Leaders Program – a program connecting students with eight-week paid summer internships at local nonprofits. The students stayed for a week-long leadership summit in Washington, D.C. In fact, Nicole was chosen to take a special trip to the White House.

While Nicole’s story is incredible, all five Student Leaders have accomplished outstanding feats.

This month, these five young individuals joined more than 200 other Student Leaders from around the country for a week-long leadership summit in Washington, D.C., where they participated in skill-building workshops, a service learning project, sessions to develop better money habits and meetings with Members of Congress. Since 2004, the program has connected 45 teens from Delaware with summer employment, and has supported 2,200 young people nationwide.

Nicole gladly agreed to answer some questions for El Tiempo Hispano:

What is the importance of this program?

The “Bank of America Student Leaders” program establishes a relationship between young people and the community with an internship at a nonprofit agency and includes a paid trip to Washington DC. The program has exposed me to new regions of the city of Wilmington and I have seen the problems that exist, such as violence, poor quality of education and the generally negative environment. This program gives me the opportunity to bring positive changes in the quality of education. I work in Teach for America in the Summer Learning Collaborative project at Camp Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center. I love to spend time with the children there, who are so creative and beautiful, prepare their daily activities and organize the camp. This program is preparing me to be a teacher and now I understand some of the problems in the education system and I can fight for changes…

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