Two Gilbert teens participate in Bank of America Student Leaders Program

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Two Gilbert residents were among five Valley high school students selected to participate in the Bank of America Student Leaders Program.

Emily Allen, a rising senior at Campo Verde High School, and Melanie Furman, a recent graduate of Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, have taken advantage of the program.

Through the initiative, the students have had the opportunity to work at local Boys & Girls Clubs. They also recently returned from a weeklong leadership summit in Washington, D.C., where they interacted with other student leaders from across the country, met with their elected officials and participated in a service project at the American Red Cross.

“We recognize that building workforce skills early can help prepare a young person for long-term success,” Bank of America Arizona President Benito Almanza said in a release. “Investing in youth and young adults is part of our broader commitment to connect people to the training and jobs needed for success, ultimately strengthening our community.”

Students’ volunteer work

Although both Gilbert students have experience doing volunteer and community work, they said they are appreciative of the opportunity to work a paying job through the program.

Allen began an environmental club at Campo Verde, where she ran a drive to raise money for wildlife preservation.

“It’s been a challenge,” she said. “But it’s really interesting to lead.”

She has also been involved in student council since her sophomore year, most recently serving as marketing director.

Allen said she would like to go to a University of California school when she graduates, hopefully Berkeley or Los Angeles. She is interested in politics and marketing but said she is also passionate about education.

Furman started her own service project, Knot Just Blankets. She leads students in making blankets with positive notes to be delivered to intensive care patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. She said although the project was not her original idea, she has been attached to it for many years.

She also participated in the Arizona Governor’s Youth Commission, which brought together 50 high-achieving Arizona students and placed them in different committees to solve a problem. Furman worked on the distracted driving committee and helped create a digital toolbox for the issue during her senior year.

Furman will be attending the University of Arizona Honors College, majoring in public management and policy.

Experience gained

Both students said they have learned a lot through their experiences with the program.

“It’s one of a kind,” Allen said.

At the Boys & Girls Club, she helps run programs and teach students many areas, such as coding, physical education, art and the environment. Allen said the kids have changed her life.

“I’ve learned so much patience,” she said. “It shows you how important communication is.”

Furman has worked in many different positions at the Boys & Girls Club, as well, helping at the front desk and with different groups of children. Although she has enjoyed her time there, she said the D.C. summit was a more valuable experience.

“What stood out to me was the passion in the room and the amount of change that everyone wanted to make,” Furman said.

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