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Tallahassee Student Leaders Intern At Second Harvest

A grey marquee with blue and red words that say Bank of America sits in front of a large grey building.
Tom Flanigan
The Bank of America Building in downtown Tallahassee.

Two Tallahassee high school students won intensive summer internships through a Bank of America program. Both students are academic standouts and also deeply involved in charitable work.

David Hulse is the president of Tallahassee's Bank of America operation. He says the Student Leaders program has been around since 2004. In the years since it's given powerful leadership training to outstanding students across the nation.

"A program like this one with its infrastructure helps to build resumes, a professional network and hopefully also improve academic performance, understanding teamwork and developing work ethic, and good communication skills. And all those things just seem like a good opportunity for rising high school juniors and seniors to help them with some infrastructure right now that leads to a career path later."

Hulse acknowledged the competition is tough even on the local level.

"In this last cycle, we had 77 applicants for these 2 spots. It's a rigorous selection process so each applicant prepares a resume that includes academic performance. But there's also quite a bit of question and answer on the application about civic engagement and leadership within the school."

Given the demanding nature of that process, winning one of the local slots came as a bit of a shock to Rickards High School's Ishrit Gupta.

"The first question that came to me was, 'How?!' Tallahassee, I know just from the people I interact with on a daily basis, is filled with lots of kids just like me that are trying to get out there and help the community."

For Gupta, a big part of that getting out there has been helping feed the area's hungry.

"All of last summer, I'd done a fundraiser called 'Bike 100,' where the aim was to bike 100 miles and raise money for every mile that I biked as a donation to Second Harvest. So I had a relationship with Second Harvest already."

A fortunate coincidence, said Gupta, as the Student Leaders program provided him with a paid internship at Second Harvest of the Big Bend this summer.

"The work that they're doing over there is obviously phenomenal work and I'm just really grateful I get a chance to experience that hands-on."

The second local Bank of America Student Leader was Benjamin May from Leon High School. Like Gupta, he also has a great academic history. And he's deeply committed to community involvement. Much of that is motivated by the fact his dad and sister both suffer from cystic fibrosis.

"I draw on their strength. They really are inspirations for me that anytime I'm struggling or need a bit of determination I think about my dad and my sister because they've fought so much through their diseases and they're still both going strong, you know?"

May has taken part in campaigns to raise awareness and funds for cystic fibrosis research.

"There was a walk event - sort of like a walk-a-thon - that I was lucky enough to volunteer and participate in. And it is something that is near and dear to my heart."

And May, like Gupta, also received an 8-week paid internship at Second Harvest of the Big Bend.

"My very first day I went in physically and went in and got to see obviously their operations center, but also their warehouse; the actual physical food bank. And it was just awe-inspiring how much food and how much of an impact they had locally."

In early July, both students joined around 300 other Student Leaders from almost 100 other communities for a summit in Washington, D.C.

"Oh, my gosh! That was fantastic! I could go on for hours about all the people I was lucky enough to meet, the other Student Leaders from all across the country. It was so great to see how similar we were, all doing nonprofit community work. But it was also great to see how different people live, even across the country."

More information about the Student Leaders program and application information is available from Bank of America online:

Bank of America Student Leaders Program - Bank of America

Information can also be found at the guidance offices of all Tallahassee high schools.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories. here.