Akila Prayaga, of Vienna, rising senior of Langley High School, was one of five Greater Washington students recently selected to participate in the Bank of America Charitable Foundation’s 2013 Student Leaders program. Winners of the award received paid eight-week internships at local nonprofits.
Akila has been interning at the D.C. headquarters of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. “I started my internship on June 24,” Akila said. “I’ve been working with a lot of numbers, mostly in finance and it’s definitely taught me a lot about finance—which is something I want to do. I learned a lot about what I want to do in the future and what I don’t want to do.”
With their internships, the 225 high school juniors and seniors selected from around the country were also invited to a five-day Bank of America Student Leadership Summit in D.C. “I really enjoyed the summit program,” Akila said. “It was one week where all the Bank of America student leaders did a lot of leadership activities, met a lot of people, met a lot of executives from non-profits and met a lot of really influential people.” Thursday, July 11, the summit hosted a service day event for all of the student leaders where they volunteered at the Capital Area Food Bank in D.C.
Summit activities included a variety of interactive workshops that focused on financial education, leadership development and Capitol Hill briefings. The goal of these sessions was to have the students understand the positive effects of how corporate, nonprofit and government organizations can be beneficial to communities.
Research shows that only 33 percent of D.C. youth can find what is deemed as practical employment. Teens, overall, have the highest unemployment rate and studies show that the teens that are able to find generous employment have lower dropout rates and more success with long-term education. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation is intended to provide individuals with exposure to valuable employment opportunities that will promote work and life skills while also helping the community.
Akila’s community commitments include an organization that she manages, Today’s Readers Tomorrow’s Leaders. “We do book drives and collect educational material and send them to shelters and we’ve also set up literacy programs outside the U.S.” It has been Akila’s dream to continue to give back to the community in the form of “an international school so kids from all around the world from impoverished countries can come and educate themselves and have a better future. A lot of children don’t have opportunities like me and I want to give them opportunities like me,” Akila said.