Ashley Paz, a Bioscience High School grad

Ashley Paz, a Bioscience High School grad, is one of five Valley students picked by Bank of America for its annual Student Leaders program.

A Glendale teen is one of five Valley students picked by Bank of America for its annual Student Leaders program.

Only because of the pandemic, the paid summer internship program is being run virtually, as it provides the students experience in leadership, civic engagement and workforce skills in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley. 

Ashley Paz, a Bioscience High School grad this year who is planning to start her freshman year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, said the program is rewarding, though she misses the in-person experience.

“Having these virtual meetings are amazing, but that physical connection and bond while listening to these people’s stories or hearing their life’s work makes me miss the chance of being able to participate in person,” Paz said.

Paz just finished a project at the Metro Phoenix Boys and Girls Clubs “where we would find and create a method of storybanking for the community.”

“In the process, we meet with mentors and learn from many influential individuals on their work,” she said. 

When she applied for the Bank of America program in January, she anticipated an in-person experience but is nonetheless “more than happy to know Bank of America put so much effort into keeping this opportunity for me and my peers to help out the community.”

She said she applied for the program “because I was interested in spending my last summer before college doing something meaningful.”

“I had planned on applying for an internship for the summer and this seemed more than perfect, as it involved community engagement, learning experience, and a very generous stipend at the end of it,” added Paz, who was senior class president at Bioscience High School. 

“I worked very hard creating and funding unique and meaningful events for my class,” she said. “This also means I played an officer role in my student government meetings as well, working hard for school wide events and outreach.”

The work with the Boys and Girls Clubs came as a natural extension of her extracurricular activities as well.

“Outside of school, I loved working with students as much as I could. After school on Mondays through Wednesday, I would facilitate, create and teach STEM curriculum to sixth to eighth graders at a Title I school to inspire young women and other minorities in the field of STEM,” Paz explained. 

“On Fridays and Saturdays, I interned at the Arizona Science Center, where I would teach junior high students how to use the makerspace to change their communities. This meant I taught classes on tools like laser engraver, wood shop and soldering, along with interpersonal skills like mentorship, problem solving and communication.”

Paz intends on studying industrial engineering and management in college—which made her a perfect fit for the Bank of America leader program.

The internship pays $5,000 to those selected for the program, which is geared toward making sure students can enter adulthood with job-ready skills.

“Now more than ever, as we collectively navigate the challenges we face in our communities, Bank of America remains committed to supporting young adults of all backgrounds by connecting them to jobs, skills building and leadership development,” said Benito Almanza, Arizona market president for the bank. 

“Creating opportunities for our youth to gain skills and build a network is a powerful investment in the future of our community.”

The five Valley interns will join 300 others from across the country for a dialogue on the role of citizenship and how cross-sector collaboration creates community impact. 

The virtual program, “Young America Together at Home,” will be delivered by the Close Up Foundation and include discussions about finding one’s voice in order to affect change and address pressing policy issues, such as the economy, health care, the environment and immigration.

In addition to Student Leaders, Bank of America is connecting approximately 3,000 young adults nationwide to paid summer jobs through various programs—such as its Financial Center Intern Program, which is providing 15 Phoenix students paid summer jobs.