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Building a foundation for the future


2014 graduates complete internships before heading to college this fall

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Stephanie Garcia Cruz, Kricia Ruano andm Daniela Ramirez Arroniz attended a Student Leadership Summit in Washinton, D.C. as part of their internship through Bank of America. The internship is eight weeks, paid and places recent high school grads with a local nonprofit, like Habitat for Humanity. Before she embarked on an internship through Bank of America’s Summer Leadership Program, 18-year-old Daniela Ramirez Arroniz didn’t know how to properly use a hammer. But at the close of her eight-week paid internship with Habitat for Humanity Willamette West, she can help build a house.

A 2014 Tualatin High School graduate, Ramirez Arroniz is joined in her internship by 17-year-old Stephanie Garcia Cruz of Beaverton High School, and 18-year-old Kricia Ruano of Aloha High School. After spending the past two months interning, traveling and volunteering together, the girls not only learned practical life lessons, but gained friendship as well.

“Having these two next to me gave me a lot of comfort,” Ruano said.

Throughout their internship, the young women have honed in on their leadership skills and helped build several houses for Habitat for Humanity. For one week, they traveled to Washington, D.C., where they attended a Student Leadership Summit and networked with fellow interns and guests from across the United States.

“I feel like it is gonna help me later on in the future because I have a foot in the door,” said Garcia Cruz. “I’ve met so many people. All those people that I met from different states, those are people that I’m able to talk to, partner up with if I have an idea, and I know that they also are in the same pathway.”

Last spring, they each learned about the internship through a faculty member at their respective schools. Having all graduated in June, the women are getting ahead of most recent high school grads, as they’ll be entering college with an internship under their belts.

In the fall, Ramirez Arroniz will be attending Portland Community College, where she plans to start a club to help high school students learn about the scholarship and internship opportunities available to them. Garcia Cruz will attend George Fox University and pursue a career in orthodonture, while Ruano will attend Willamette University and major in political science and international affairs.

More than anything, however, the internship has given the women a broader sense of the world and the issues around them.

“I didn’t even really know what Habitat for Humanity was until I became a part,” said Ramirez Arroniz. “It just made me aware of all the problems that we have in the U.S. and how housing is a big issue. Because if you don’t live in a good household, it affects your future a lot. I didn’t really think about that until we learned about it.”

When asked what they’d be doing if not interning, they were pretty sure they’d be working retail jobs — or, you know, sleeping. Instead, they’re gaining valuable leadership experience that is helping shape their future career paths.

To learn more about the Bank of America Student Leaders Program, visit about.bankofamerica.com.