High schoolers are more than just tomorrow’s future professionals, they are today’s trailblazers, change makers and activists helping create a difference in their communities.
This year’s Bank of America Student Leaders® are no different. From starting their own organizations and school clubs to advocating for social change, these civic-minded high school students are helping shape the world for future generations to come.
The five high school juniors and seniors from Miami-Dade County selected to become Student Leaders® participated in a paid summer internship at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade and a week-long trip to Washington D.C. for a leadership summit.
Among the Student Leaders® is Doral resident Stephanie Torres, a recent graduate of Doral Academy Preparatory. As the summer comes to an end, Stephanie recently shared us the impact the Student Leaders® program has had on her and how certain life experiences have led her to pursue a career in public service.
1. What are you most proud of when it comes to your experience as a Student Leader®?
Stephanie Torres: Among the experiences I’m most proud of is being awarded the opportunity to intern at a local nonprofit like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami. This internship afforded me workforce experience and the opportunity to work with kids, which was both challenging and rewarding.
The trip to Washington D.C. for the Student Leaders® Summit was another life-changing experience that expanded my perspective on many things.
During the trip I met and collaborated with a diverse group of fellow Student Leaders® from across the country who had a lot of the same passions I do and, with strongly held opinions. I also met with Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. They were incredibly welcoming and eager to know who we were and what type of community service we did that led to us becoming Bank of America Student Leaders®.
That one-on-one connection with Congressman Diaz-Balart and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen was invaluable and helped me see them and politics in a different light.
2. What have you learned as a Student Leader® through your experiences? What are some take-aways?
Stephanie Torres: This program connected us with executives at Bank of America from across all leadership levels and leaders at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade, many of whom served as mentors. Throughout the program, they provided guidance and support, allowing us to grow and develop new skills. Among the things I will take away from this experience is how important it is for young people to have mentors and role models to look up to.
3. What are your future goals regarding your career? What has inspired you to pursue your future career?
Stephanie Torres: Personally, one of my main goals is to give back to my community as much as possible and to be the voice for those who are not being heard.
I aspire to be a public servant and run for office one day. Past experiences have inspired a future in politics, in particular, volunteering efforts for the project called, Reforming Florida, Helping Homeowners. This project allowed me to work with local politicians to educate residents in my community on condominium laws and homeowner protection issues. Being able to use my voice to help those who are not being heard was extremely rewarding.
4. What motivated you to get involved with Reforming Florida, Helping Homeowners service project and how rewarding was that experience?
Stephanie Torres: I became involved with Reforming Florida, Helping Homeowners, because of my parent’s participation in the advocacy group. During that the time, I was also working with a politician who was dealing with issues homeowners associations and the rampant abuse in this area. I studied the issue and began spreading awareness to homeowners in my community, helping them understand what their rights were and educating them on homeowner protection issues. This effort led to real and tangible change in my community and that change motivated me to continue to empower individuals without a voice.
Stephanie will be starting Barry University as a stamp scholar in the fall and plans to major in political science.