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Bank of America’s 2022 Student Leaders Program Now Accepting Applications

by Carol Elizabeth Owens

Eddie Odera, 2021 graduate of Brighton High School and Janaa Smith, a junior at Mercy High School in 2021. Photo provided by Marie Kamp, Vice President of Programs at Junior Achievement of Central Upstate NY.

The application period for the annual Bank of America Student Leaders paid internship program is now open for high school juniors and seniors.  Applications must be submitted by no later than January 28, 2022.  

Bank of America describes the Student Leaders Program as part of its commitment to educational and workforce development initiatives for young adults to obtain job and leadership experience while making a difference in their communities.

Each year, Bank of America selects 300 high school juniors and seniors from across the country to participate, including two from Rochester. 

Janaa Smith, then a 16-year-old junior at Mercy High School, applied for the internship program at Bank of America in 2021.  Having pioneered a diversity club at Mercy, Smith had a blossoming understanding of her leadership potential.

Smith learned about Bank of America’s Student Leaders internship program through advisors/counselors at Mercy, who recognized her leadership potential and told her they thought it would be an amazing opportunity.  

With the encouragement and support of Mercy, Smith applied.

“I was so happy when I found out that I got it!,” Smith said, adding that after completing the 8-week, full-time, 9 to 5 junior professional work experience, she “[was] so thankful [she] got the chance to do it.”

Smith recalls the 2021 internship experience as being “amazing,” and one in which she “learned a lot and made new friends with other student leaders from Georgia, Nevada, California, and everywhere.”  “It was an awesome way to spend my summer,” said Smith.

Smith went into the internship program understanding that she would be paid for her work, but she was surprised to “finish the summer with almost $5,000 – I felt like I did more learning than actual working!,” she said.

“I learned about grant writing, fundraising, and how businesses and non-profits benefit our community.  I learned how congress and government work, and I also learned a lot about financial literacy through working with Junior Achievement and Bank of America,” Smith said.  “So, definitely things I will need in my future, just as an adult and as someone looking to going into politics.”

Smith says she does not think she would have learned those types of things without the internship experience.

As a 17-year-old graduating senior at Mercy whose goals include attending college and majoring in political science, Smith definitely recommends the internship to other high school students; in fact, she has already done so.  Specifically, she recommended the Bank of America Student Leaders program to students at Mercy High School’s Mosaic Civic Equality Club (where Smith serves as president), and to the school’s Black Student Union.

For more information, students can visit