Two high school seniors from the Osceola County School District, including Sharon Sanju, from Tohopekaliga High School, and Keenan Lewis, from Poinciana High School, were selected as Bank of America Student Leaders, an eight-week paid summer internship providing 300 students with first-hand experience in serving alongside local nonprofit organizations.

As part of the program, the students will develop leadership and practical workforce skills while working with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, all while earning $17 per hour.

Following a competitive application process, the class of 2023 Central Florida Bank of America Student Leaders are:

  • Sharon Sanju, a rising Senior at Tohopekaliga High School: After she was elected student government president, Sharon learned the power of initiative as she helped enhance the high school experience for her peers, leading the coordination of school-wide events and initiatives. Sharon also leveraged her leadership skills to serve as the vice president of the Asian American Student Association, where she connects with her Indian heritage and guides the group to help share and enjoy cultural experiences together.
  • Keenan Lewis, a rising Senior at Poinciana High School: As a School Advisory Councilmember for Poinciana High School, Keenan learned to consider the views of parents, teachers and the student body as he supported key projects and initiatives across campus. His leadership allowed him to organize the first-ever “Multicultural Night” at the school. This two-part event brought together students from all grade levels, and their families, in a celebration of a large variety of cultures.

The Student Leaders selected are traveling to Washington D.C. for a week-long, all-expenses-paid, national leadership summit 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 will discuss the importance of civic engagement and meet with members of Congress.

Two other seniors outside Osceola County were also selected for the student leadership opportunity:

  • Ashley Ding, a rising Senior at Lake Nona High: When Ashley noticed a lack of female representation within school leadership, she was inspired to create a women’s empowerment club called GenWow. This program has grown from five to 62 members in less than a year and offers the next generation of young women chances to lead and make a difference in their community. Ashley has also led an initiative to provide free access to feminine hygiene products in all bathrooms at her school and was able to secure a grant, as well as support from teachers and students, to help make her goal a reality.
  • Isabella Delbakhsh, a rising Senior at Lake Highland Preparatory School: Isabella has a passion for helping others see the beauty in math and science. This led her to teach math classes for all ages using storytelling tactics that help keep students engaged. Outside of this, she also serves as the president of the Orlando Math Circle, where she generates interest in math by visiting Title 1 schools, organizing events and connecting with the next generation of students.

With changing economic environments and a shifting job market, 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 to be successful in today’s workforce. Along with the Student Leaders program, Bank of America is connecting more than 50 teens and young adults to paid jobs and internships across Central Florida in partnership with Orlando Community & Youth Trust.

“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 Central Florida’s long-term economic growth,” said Steve Alch, president, Bank of America Central Florida.

“The teens selected for this paid summer intern program are truly extraordinary but may not have had access to opportunities like this until now. The Student Leaders program is just one example of how we connect people to meaningful employment resources that also builds a stronger pipeline of diverse talent for our local workforce.”

Started in 2004, the Student Leaders program recognizes 300 community-focused juniors and seniors from across the U.S. annually. The Central Florida-based Student Leaders are participating in programming that includes a collaborative, mentor-focused project with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.

The application process for the 2024 program will begin in October 2023.