Four Orange County high school juniors and seniors have been tapped as Bank of America Student Leaders this summer to build their workforce skills while providing for their communities.
Every year, Bank of America selects 300 students across the United States to participate in an eight-week paid internship and gain first-hand experience serving others alongside local nonprofit organizations. Following a competitive application process, Cassandra Mapanao of Tesoro High School, Cecy Rivera of Middle College High School, Kristen Lew of Northwood High School and Nataly Lopez of Samueli Academy were selected to participate this summer.
With extensive community-based efforts on their resumés, these four high schoolers will get the chance to expand their philanthropic efforts by helping their peers through the mentorship program. Each student will intern with the Boys & Girls Club of Central Orange Coast where they will collaborate with professionals, learn various job and leadership skills, and earn $17 per hour.
Citing a shifting job market in Orange County and beyond, Bank of America says it has increased its efforts to open up career and educational opportunities for teens and young adults through its multiple youth programs. Since the program was created in 2004, 89 Orange County high school students have been named Student Leaders.
Here’s a closer look at the four Orange County scholars who were chosen as Bank of America’s 2023 Student Leaders:
Cassandra Mapanao, senior, Tesoro High School
Cassandra Mapanao is a rising senior at Tesoro High School with a passion for science and health. She participated in UCI’s University Lab Partners program where she helped make STEM materials for the Boys & Girls Club. For her work, she received UCI’s Youngest Innovator Award. In addition, she has worked as a research assistant at UCLA’s California Nanosystems Institute and UCI’s Kheradvar Cardiovascular Biomedical Engineering Lab. Cassandra plans to study global public health so she can help increase access to health care.
Cecy Rivera, Class of 2023, Middle College High School
After earning an associate’s degree in liberal art studies in Middle College High School’s dual enrollment program, Cecy Rivera will enroll as a junior at UCLA this fall. Cecy created and led a student-run organization called Competitive Edge, where she helps teach public speaking, negotiation and leadership to more than 700 underserved students. She was recently named a Change Maker by the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce after completing an internship for Congressman Lou Correa.
Kristen Lew, senior, Northwood High School
Kristen Lew is a rising senior at Northwood High School, where she is a leader of campus organizations like Northwood’s Take Back the Night chapter and the nonprofit SeeHerPower. Kristen also created and hosts a podcast called Care Café, which aims to promote teen mental health wellness. Through her involvement with the nonprofit organization Girls Inc., Kristen helped organize an inaugural political advocacy committee that works with the California Department of Education to plan mental health days for students.
Nataly Lopez, senior, Samueli Academy
Nataly Lopez is a rising senior at Samueli Academy, where she will serve as student body president in the coming school year. During the pandemic, Nataly worked as a California Rapid Response Youth Leader for the organization Mikva Challenge to encourage civic engagement among teens in her community. As a longtime participant in National History Day, Nataly placed second in last year’s championship competition.
To conclude their internships, each of Bank of America’s student leaders will congregate at a weeklong national leadership summit in Washington, D.C, which will be held in-person for the first time since 2019.
Throughout the summit, students will get the chance to meet members of Congress while discussing the need for civic engagement and cross-sector collaboration.
“By providing the pathways and resources for young adults to gain the work skills and leadership experience they need to succeed, we are investing in Orange County’s long-term economic growth,” said Allen Staff, president of Bank of America Orange County.
“The teens selected for this year’s program are truly extraordinary and already are inspiring their classmates to higher levels of achievement and community involvement,” Staff said. “The Student Leaders program is just one example of how we connect people to meaningful employment resources while also instilling the importance of giving back to your community.”