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Miami Proud: Students learned valuable lessons by giving back to community over summer

Miami Proud: High school seniors spent the summer giving back at the YMCA
Miami Proud: High school seniors spent the summer giving back at the YMCA 03:20

MIAMI - Many teens enjoyed their summer playing video games or hanging out with friends. But four high school seniors spent the majority of their time working hard and giving back at the YMCA as part of a prestigious paid internship program.

While they will soon head into their last year of high school, they have already made a huge impact on their communities and made "Miami Proud."

"At first it was for college, but I ended up thinking after orientation that this could change my life and it did," said Steven Goetz.

It was a life changing eight weeks for Goetz and the three other Broward students.

"The experience allowed us to be connected to students who are like-minded, just like us," said Alana McBean.

"We got to learn how to work with our communities," said Melissa Bermudez.

"I really learned how to work in a group and manage my time well," said Bolton Bazile.

The four students were selected for Bank of America's Student Leaders paid internship program because of their hard work. All four founded organizations or gave back in their own communities and schools.

"I really enjoyed working a 9 to 5, surprisingly," said Bolton.

"We've worked with helping with technology with the active older adults," said McBean. "We helped with the kids in terms of summer camp."

Bazile created "Planting the Seed," a group inspiring local youth to volunteer. Bermudez teaches minority students skills in STEM, helping them prepare for the future.

All four continue to work at the "Y'.

"It's a really humbling experience and its also a really comforting experience because you realize you're not alone in your journey," said McBean.

The internship culminated with a week-long trip to Washington D.C. There the young leaders had the chance to talk to legislators about the issues that matter to them and the people in their communities.

"We were allowed to talk about issues that we notice within our communities and really express that," said McBean.

The students, already having given so much, are eager to learn how they can do more.

"Having conversations with those people made me open my eyes to how many problems this nation has and how they are necessarily not easy to fix but how we can fix it at such a young age and it's a lot more reachable than I thought it was," said Bermudez.

"I will dedicate my life and time to understanding these communities more and helping them out and even if I'm not in this situation," said Goetz.

The seniors said they didn't only learn from the internship, they also learned a great deal from each other.

"From Steven, I learned about financial literacy. When I started at the "Y," I didn't really know much about money and healthy habits, so he taught me a lot. Melissa, she's a really good health advocate. She taught me about mental health and all the issues that are happening in America, so I'm really grateful for that. Alana has been amazing, she's helped me a lot with my public speaking skills," said Bolton.

"On the external, you'll see all the research and project output we've had, but on the internal, you'll see a family that will change you forever," said Goetz.

These seniors, who spent their summer gaining job experience and learning about the impact they can make, are truly the future of South Florida.  

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