SOLEDAD — Clarissa Medina, a recent graduate of Soledad High School, was chosen as one of two interns in the 2020 Monterey Bay Bank of America Student Leaders program, a paid summer internship to develop leadership and civic engagement.
Medina worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Monterey County in Seaside, along with the other student leader, Aldo Saldana of Salinas, in a storytelling project.
The project involved speaking to area businesses and nonprofits to see how they are dealing with the repercussions of Covid-19, then forming a writing project based on their findings. Normally students in the program would also work over the summer as site interns, but this year has proved a challenge with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“The focus of the program is to develop youth by connecting them to job skills, leadership and development opportunities so they can navigate a career and have exposure to different options,” said Jennifer Dacquisto, Monterey Bay market manager with Bank of America.
The student leader program has been run nationally by Bank of America for 16 years, but it was introduced to the Monterey Bay region last year. Medina and Saldana are the area’s second group of student leaders.
Any high school junior or senior can apply for the program and must answer interview questions and provide a history of their community involvement.
Medina will attend Hartnell this year to study business administration, and plans to attend university in Southern California with a goal of becoming an immigration lawyer. She has volunteered and been involved with numerous nonprofit groups in Soledad, including the Salvation Army, serving Thanksgiving meals with the YMCA, fostering youth empowerment in Girls Inc., and at her church.
“What stood out is her ambition, she is extremely driven and she’s planning to pursue a law degree,” Dacquisto said in regard to Medina’s selection.
She noted Medina’s focus and inspiration to help others was outstanding.
“In her application, she spoke about Soledad lacking exposure for kids for career diversity and mentioned that when she grows up, she wants to create a nonprofit organization that will allow her to educate the children of her community about various career opportunities,” Dacquisto said.
Medina said that by studying law and becoming an immigration attorney, she felt she could have a positive impact on the lives of undocumented immigrants.
“Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve been meeting people, and their stories have made an impact in my life. I know how much undocumented immigrants struggle,” Medina said. “They are Americans, even though they weren’t born here, they have been in this country for such a long time and they go through so many struggles just because they don’t have proper documentation, such as not being able to see their families or not being able to get a good job. I want to make a positive impact in their lives.”
Each intern is paid for their work, and Medina said she plans to use her money to buy a car to make commuting to Hartnell College in Salinas easier, as well as to enable her to move to attend university afterward.