BY JORDAN GIBBONS
This summer, three high school students from the Borough were chosen to participate in Bank of America’s national program, Student Leaders.
Edward Li, Cindy Pietrakowski and Yulin Yang were among 200 outstanding juniors and seniors who were recognized for demonstrating a commitment to community engagement and volunteerism. The students were each placed in a paid eight-week internship and traveled to Washington D.C. for a national Student Leadership Summit.
At the Summit, they were able to network with other students from around the country. They also worked with the American Red Cross to pack 2,000 “Totes of Hope” for homeless veterans, which is a program where personal care items, such as socks, toothbrushes and deodorant are donated, packaged and distributed to veterans.
“The Summit was one of the most inspiring moments of my life,” Pietrakowski said.
Pietrakowski has been interning at the Vanderbilt YMCA in Manhattan and after trying out all the departments, she was allowed to settle into one that she liked the best, which was camp administration.
As a rising senior at Maspeth High School, she is looking into majoring in communications at Syracuse University, University of Connecticut or Binghamton University.
“The YMCA is so unique. It has so many components and they let us explore everything,” she said. “The camp administration has showed me what goes on behind the scenes. It was a really good fit to put me there.”
Yang, a rising senior at Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, is also interning at the Vanderbilt Y, where she is helping to plan its Longevity Luncheon for people who have been members for more than 25 years.
“Some people have been there for 60 years,” Yang said. “It really brings the community together.”
Yang is still debating what she wants to pursue in college, but she said it is between biomedical engineering and investment banking. She is also deciding between Stanford University and Dartmouth College. She said her upcoming AP Physics class will help her decide her major.
“If I really enjoy it, I may go towards biomedical engineering,” Yang said.
She has been working on a research project for a voice recognition system to differentiate and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and primary progressive aphasia, a degenerative brain syndrome that affects speech and language.
Li, a recent graduate of Stuyvesant High School and a Little Neck resident, is attending Brown University in the fall. His internship is with the Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, where he also got an opportunity to cycle through all the departments.
Li is working on creating a marketing campaign to expand the nonprofit’s online presence.
“We’re writing a proposal to Google for a grant for Google Ads,” he said.
They are asking for $10,000 a month for advertising.
Li is also looking to take a different path than the one he was on at Stuyvesant.
“In high school, I was a STEM student, but I don’t want to do research,” he said. “I transitioned to social services; entrepreneurship, journalism or politics.”
This year is the 10th anniversary of the Student Leader program. Students are selected through an application process each year and are awarded an internship based on their leadership and a demonstrated commitment to service within their schools and communities.
The application is available online at www.bankofamerica.com late this fall.
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.