WASHINGTON (Covering Katy News) — Five exemplary Houston-area students, including one from Katy and one from Missouri City, have just returned home from the 2019 Student Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., where they had the opportunity to connect with peers from around the country and meet with members of Congress as part of the Bank of America Student Leaders program and the company’s broader commitment to youth workforce development.
Induja Guatam, who is a senior at Katy's Seven Lakes High School, said her summer in Washington was life changing.
“Going into the Student Leaders program, I knew I would be learning about how the government, businesses, nonprofits, and individuals can work together to make a difference in society. What I didn't know was how much my experience and trip to D.C. was going to change my life through inspiring speakers, thought-provoking activities, and insightful learning," Guatam said.
Louise Zeng, a Missouri City resident and recent graduate of Dulles High School also enjoyed her time in the nation's capitol.
“The Bank of America Student Leaders program has been so rewarding because it allowed me to spend my last summer before college giving back to the community that means the world to me," Zeng said. "Through my work at non-profit San Jose Clinic, I played a key role in organizing the annual Back to School Party, where we gave school and dental supplies, socks and underwear, books, and more to our patients' children so that they have everything necessary for a successful school year."
Today, about 15 percent of all young people across the country, or 4.7 million, are categorized as disconnected youth who aren’t in school and don’t have a job. Without access to opportunities that build career skills, many young people may be left behind, leading to high rates of youth unemployment and juvenile delinquency and hindering overall economic progress. Paid youth employment programs like Student Leaders that connect young adults to education, training and the job market can help them build workforce skills while also enabling them to engage with their community in unique ways.
“We recognize that building hard and soft job skills combined with access to jobs early in life creates positive outcomes for young peoples’ long-term success,” said Hong Ogle, Houston Market President at Bank of America. “Investing in youth is part of Bank of America’s broader commitment to connect individuals to the training and jobs needed for success, ultimately strengthening our community by creating more widespread, sustainable economic mobility.”
"My favorite experience in D.C. was definitely the "Courageous Conversation: Social Solidarity in America" panel held at the United States Holocaust Museum, said Guatam. "What this panel focused on was the following question: 'If Germany at that time was so educated, and had such powerful freedom of speech, then why did no one speak up?'"
Zeng said she made lifetime friends over the summer in Washington.
"It was so amazing to grow together and to become so close with not only my fellow Houston student leaders but also student leaders from around the country, and the friendships I created have truly shaped me to be a more empathetic and caring citizen and friends,” Zeng said.
Across Houston this summer, Bank of America funded 90 paid internships across 35 local nonprofits through the Student Leaders program and its Bank of America Summer Youth Employment Program in partnership with SERJobs. The bank is also providing 10 young people from low- and moderate-income families with paid internships in local Bank of America financial centers. Nationwide, Bank of America is investing more than $4 million in funding this summer to support nearly 3,000 summer jobs for teens across the country through various initiatives, with a particular focus on young people from low-income families.
The Houston-based Student Leaders worked at the Wesley Community Center and the San Jose Clinic. The five Houston Student Leaders are:
- Induja Guatam, a Katy resident and rising senior at Seven Lakes High School
- Derrick Ngo, a Houston resident and recent graduate of the Energy Institute High School
- Pablo Rodriguez, a Houston resident and recent graduate of Yes Prep North Central
- Zayd Latheef, a Pearland resident and a homeschooled student
- Louise Zeng, a Missouri City resident and recent graduate of Dulles High School