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Mentoring Matters: Bank Of America Gives South Florida Student Leaders Firsthand Experience Through Summer Internship

BROWARD (CBSMiami) - Bank of America is teaming up with the YMCA of Broward to give student interns on-the-job experience that combines corporate and non-profit worlds with a civic-minded mission.

These interns are getting a lesson in personal finance, one aspect of Bank of America's "Student Leaders Summer Program."

Emmanuel Lopez is a mentor with Bank of America and he's leading this class.

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"This is a budget, and you have to pay yourself first," Lopez tells his students. "These [lessons] are from 'The Better Money Habits' [a Bank of America program] that we are doing to really understand how to manage your finances."

YMCA of Broward's corporate headquarters is the non-profit partnered with the bank for this eight-week paid internship.

Aamir Lacewala is entering his senior year at American Heritage and realizes how little he knew about money management.

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"My financial planning was 'how do I ask my parents for more money', and now I know how credit scores work," Lacewala said.

Managing money is just the start.

The students get real business skills, tasked with developing and presenting a project for the YMCA's marketing department.

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"They are building campaigns in a box, working on aquatics, understanding drowning prevention," said Maria Villavicencio, the social responsibility director at the YMCA.

Villavicencio is a mentor for this program as well.

Alyssa Fletcher is about to study business at the University of Michigan. She's working closely with Villavicencio and taking notes on corporate America 101, with instruction in professional development, email etiquette, how to dress for an interview and more.

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The small group approach allows for valuable detailed feedback.

"Making her sometimes take a step back and think about what she just wrote, or what she just learned, or what she presented, and giving her some positive feedback," Villavicencio said.

The students traveled to Washington D.C. and met with elected officials and attended presentations on skill building and creating a more civically engaged society.

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(Courtesy of Ana Marquez)

Here in Broward, they participated in local community service events too.

"The food drive was really, really fun you see how close the community is and how much it's needed in that community," said Lacewala.

In addition to strengthening community ties and growing professionally, it is about learning from each other and sharing different perspectives.

"Aamir is very smart, insightful, reserved, like me; when you start talking to him you see a very curious young man," said Lopez. "We agree much more on politics than basketball."

While he does love the sport, Lacewala is interested in seeking public office one day.

"I can make a positive impact right now and prepare myself to make an even bigger impact later on," said Lacewala.

Lopez sees this group as a hopeful example of the future generation.

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(Courtesy of Ana Marquez)

"It gives me courage that we are in good hands if this is the kind of leaders that we have coming up in the world," Lopez said.

While the program lasts only two months, it appears to be the beginning for these mentors and mentees.

Fletcher is appreciative for the experience.

"Whether it's government or business or as an individual, I think we've all learned so much from her and I look forward to a long relationship," said Fletcher.

Student Leaders is in its 15th year, with over 3,500 participants nationwide. Applications for next summer will open mid-November.

For more information, visit here.

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at

Click here for more Mentoring Matters.

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