Jasmin Harrison, an Albany High 2019 graduate, is interning with us this summer from the Bank of America Student Leader program before beginning college this fall. Read on to hear from her about her experience so far.
I applied to this internship program with the goal of gaining meaningful work experience as well as learning how to use my passions to serve, inspire and change the world around me.
Prior to my first week of work, I knew about Habitat as a nonprofit organization that builds houses, but I soon realized through this experience that it is so much more. I’ve had the opportunity to work at the main office, the Habitat ReStore, and on a build site in South Troy. All of these experiences have taught me one thing about Habitat’s goal besides just building houses: to help people.
From helping people have access to safe places to live, to affordable & stylish home improvement items, to even just having nice and friendly people answering phone calls from community members and making them feel comfortable.
On the build site
One specific moment that has stood out to me so far at Habitat was my time on the build site and the interactions I had with the volunteers. Many Habitat volunteers work long days in the burning heat to help other families achieve great housing opportunities that will last a lifetime.
When helping build this house over this six hours that day, I noticed myself complaining about the heat, my nails and how I looked, but quickly stopped myself when I noticed the other Habitat workers marveling each the wind would come close to giving them a breeze or talk about the future this house held and how it was way more important than any other small grievances.
At the Capitol
Another vital part of the Bank of America Student Leader experience is the paid week of exploration in Washington, D.C. There, I met with 283 other Bank of America Student Leaders from around the United States to not only talk about our internships, but to connect with other teens like me who understood the importance of using our voices. At the end of the week, we used what we learned from each other at Capitol Hill to meet with our local congressional representatives. Over the course of the week, I witnessed inspiring talks about the importance of mentorship and the issues of mass incarceration from other young leaders, as well as the importance of a college education in prisons from Bard Prison Initiative Graduate Sebastian Yoon.
During this week I found a home away from home in my D.C. group, named Workshop 4, the place where I made lifelong friends from Chicago, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Georgia, California. Where we as young people were free to discuss issues that plagued our home life, and controversies we struggled with self-identifying like race, sexual orientation, and diversity within our communities. I was able to meet iconic Congress members like vibrant new voice Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and notable civil rights activist John Lewis, who my peers and I had the opportunity to explain things we struggled with to them. Congressman John Lewis even wrote about the touching conversation he had with a leader from my group about her concerns with America’s current immigration crisis.
When my internship ends, I will be off the North Carolina A&T State University to attain a degree in Elementary Education, and explore the world outside of my Capital District home. However, what I learned about myself this summer will stay with me—I have the ability to Serve, Inspire and Change my community using my ideas, hands and voice. I look forward to continuing to embrace this amazing opportunity and learning as much as I can from the leaders I am surrounded with, and plan on doing everything I can to make this summer last.
About the Bank of America Student Leader program: For the past 15 years, Bank of America has offered paid internships to high school juniors and seniors around the US, giving not only experience in the nonprofit workplace, but exemplifying how students can use their own voices and passions to enact change in their community. Locally, Habitat is one of two nonprofits chosen by Bank of America to host a Student Leader this summer.