Each year, Bank of America selects more than 200 students from around the country to participate in its Student Leaders program. This year, Ponte Vedra High School senior Harrison Snowden was among those selected.
The primary purpose of the Student Leaders program is to provide service-oriented high school juniors and seniors with the knowledge and skills to become future leaders in their communities. Selected students are awarded a paid summer internship at a local nonprofit in addition to participation in a weeklong Student Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.
Snowden said he applied for the program in January and found out that he had been selected in the spring. The eight-week program lasted from the beginning of June through the end of July.
“I was paired with Communities in Schools, which is a nonprofit in Jacksonville with a mission statement of empowering kids to achieve in school and to graduate and achieve in life,” he said. “I spent a couple weeks working in their main office in Downtown Jacksonville, learning how nonprofits run and meeting with the CEO, CFO and with different managers there and seeing what they do and how they work. Then I spent five weeks at a summer program where I worked with kindergartners and first graders, and then I spent one week at the national leadership summit in Washington, D.C.”
The summit, Snowden said, provided students with valuable knowledge to help improve their leadership skills and encourage civic involvement.
“Their first target was to show us all how businesses, governments, nonprofit organizations and individuals interact to create change in a community,” Snowden said. “We had a seminar on better money habits, we had a seminar about leadership, we went to different memorial sites and monuments; so it was kind of a blend of financial responsibility, history, politics and leadership.”
An active member of his community, Snowden strives to make service an integral part of his daily life. In addition to volunteering weekly at the Arbor Terrace Memory Center in Ponte Vedra Beach, he participates in several service-oriented clubs and organizations. For instance, as an officer of the Helping Betty/ Hubbard Club at his school, Snowden founded the “Teens Take a Stand” benefit concert to raise funds for two local domestic violence shelters—the Betty Griffin Center in St. Johns County and Hubbard House in Duval County.
“I recruited the club members and the other officers of the club and reached out to performers all over the community,” Snowden said. “We had adult performers, we had student performers, we had a comedian, we had dancers, we had our high school a cappella group, we had a jazz band; so, a whole bunch of different types of performers. We solicited corporate sponsorship from local businesses, we had a silent auction, we reached out to the Jaguars, who donated, and we auctioned off tickets to a Jaguars game…In total, we ended up raising over $10,000.”
As a community-minded individual, Snowden said that his experience with the Bank of America Student Leaders program served as an affirmation for the principles his family always instilled in him.
“None of my family works in nonprofit organizations, but all of them have really taught me since I was young the importance of still being involved in service,” he said. “I think I’ve been fortunate to have a family who’s showed me the importance of that, and especially because I think that…coming from a home of privilege and financial stability, I think that it kind of lies on us to help out those that don’t.”