Cypress Bay Senior Spends Summer in Bank of America’s Student Leaders Program

As President of the Habitat for Humanity chapter at Cypress Bay High School, Catalina Garcia is reinforcing the leadership skills she gained this summer while participating in Bank of America’s Student Leaders program. She was one of four Broward County students selected to participate in the prestigious program that included an eight-week paid internship and a trip to Washington D.C. to attend the Student Leadership Summit.

“I believe that I was chosen for the Bank of America Student Leaders program due to my passion for helping the people in my community and all around the world,” shares Catalina. “I am also very interested in business and have won several DECA competitions for my school. DECA is an international program which is supposed to help teach future business leaders.”

During her summer internship, Catalina says she learned a great deal about the business behind a non-profit. She and the other interns developed a marketing campaign for the YMCA. 

At the Leadership Summit, Catalina worked alongside 200 fellow student leaders from across the country. They met with members of Congress and learned about diversity, nonprofit work and building leadership skills.

“Attending the Leadership Summit helped increase my political efficacy by helping me understand issues and teaching me how to properly defend them. It made me feel like what I had to say mattered and that I should use my voice,” explains Catalina. “Listening to the different speakers not only taught me a lot but also inspired me to keep doing what I’m doing for my community.”

One of the chief things she is doing is expanding the reach of the Habitat for Humanity chapter at Cypress Bay. Throughout the summer, Catalina worked closely with representatives from Habitat Broward to develop a literacy theme for this school year. 

“We will be having book drives for the kids at the new Rick Case Habitat community and we will be building a little free library where the kids that live there can take books whenever they want,” states Catalina. “We will also be having more build sites because that is what our members enjoy the most due to the fact that they get to interact with future homeowners and get their hands dirty. We also plan on reaching out to other schools in Broward County with Habitat for Humanity chapters to try to have one big event for all of our members.”

Catalina is committed to expanding the work high school chapters do to support Habitat for Humanity. After attending the Leadership Summit, she realized the vital importance of this organization and government’s role in creating affordable housing.

“I learned that South Florida is one of the cities with the largest affordable housing crisis in the nation, so my work is just getting started.”