Student Leaders-The Orlando Times
Bank of America Chooses Four Orlando Students for Student Leaders Program®
Local High School Senior Gets Unique Opportunity
BY JALESSA NEAL, TIMES STAFF WRITER
ORLANDO, FL- Recent estimates suggest that the number of youths who aren’t in school and don’t have a job has likely tripled since last year and could be as high as 18 million. This summer, four junior and senior students from high schools throughout the Orlando area were selected to be part of this year’s Bank of America Student Leaders® Program. The six-week paid summer internship, which was adapted to a virtual format due to the pandemic, helped strengthen the students’ leadership abilities, civic engagement, and workforce skills-building. Gedeon Guercin was one of the chosen four.
Since 2004, Student Leaders has been part of Bank of America’s ongoing commitment to youth employment and economic mobility. Unlike most student recognition programs it does not focus on certain requirements, what it does focus on is passion for community service, proven leadership ability, and an understanding of what current issues are with a desire to solve those issues. Students who apply must be a junior or senior in high school. Each student selected will receive a $5,000 stipend to recognize them for their community achievements.
“It began with recognizing that to solve our future needs, we need to develop the future leaders,” said Jodie Hardman, SVP & Market Manager, Bank of America. “And Gedeon is a huge example of what it's like to apply yourself at a young age and be awarded for that. He is a walking testimony to the program.”
The program extends across the country in 80 markets, with over 2,500 total applications for the 2020 session. In the Orlando-area 100 students applied but with the help of community leaders and partners they were narrowed down to a final 20. After an interview process the final four were selected.
A 2020 graduate who has led efforts to address food insecurity in his community, including creating a patent sketch for an agricultural aircraft, Gedeon Guercin of Oak Ridge High School was among those chosen from the Orlando area to participate in the Student Leaders Program.
Born in Haiti and raised in Orlando, FL. The middle child of Jacques and Venette Guercin’s three children, Gedeon always looked for ways to give back to the community.
"We always wanted Gedeon to get a good education and to help others and himself,” said his parents. “Yon bon sitwayen (To be a good citizen in Haitian Creole)"
While in high school he was part of the recycling club for two years, serving as Vice President for the last year. He was also a member of both the National Honor Society and the Science National Honor Society, where he served as Chair for his senior year. Through the honor society, Second Harvest Food Bank, and his local church, Church of God Salem, he helped with local food drives and packing/organizing non-perishable items.
“I thought it was really beneficial to help my community in that way because my family suffers from food insecurity and I felt like giving back to the community was a way that I could contribute,” said Gedeon, 18.
For three years he also participated in a STEM program called the River Design Challenge. Together with his team, they worked on a project to help curb the effects of pollution by designing a patent sketch for an agricultural aircraft that could help farmers better treat their crops. With this group he has earned two state awards and an international merit award.
“For me in my efforts to become an engineer I realized that its important the you be cognitive of who you're serving and how it impacts them and I feel like ultimately what an engineer does is build and design things that can help our communities be safer and better,” he said.
Additionally, he has received recognition through the MLK humanitarian program, the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America Scholar and AP Scholar with honors.
“I think it's really awesome that he is serving his community in this way,” said Lydie Guercin, 20, his older sister.
“I believe that Jayden is very caring because he puts others first and he goes out to help other people,” said his little sister Indies Guercin, 16. “I believe that Jayden was doing well and I hope that he succeeds.”
Gedeon heard about the Bank of America Student Leaders program during his sophomore year, after a classmate was accepted. After being inspired by the program’s volunteer initiative he applied his senior year.
“When I was chosen, I was very excited. It was very motivating for me and overall an extraordinary experience,” he said. “My favorite project was when our Orlando market reviewed grants in a mock committee to see which organization would be the best to receive the grant.”
From June 22 to July 31 they worked closely with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida to help promote and encourage member participation in their Cyber Clubhouse while developing interesting and fun content to grasp the interests of club members.
“I definitely think that it was a year unlike any other, there were a lot of parts of the program that they did not get to experience as they have in the past but these particular four students really embraced the virtual aspect,” said Amanda Bruce-Koehnke, Community Relations Manager, Bank of America. “Gedeon was very determined and worked really well with the students. He just really was the definition of a leader.”
In addition, the students had multiple opportunities to listen to panelists and webinars on topics ranging from food insecurity to racial injustice. They were broken up into small groups and held mock Congress to learn how bills are supported among a wide variety of other community-based discussions.
“The Bank of America internship that he was awarded is not surprising because everything Gedeon has earned he just works so hard for,” said Erin Wolfgramm, his college and career specialist. “I can't say enough good things about Gedeon.”
“I'm very thankful first of all for the internship, I think that it was very beneficial experience,” said Gedeon, who will be attending Princeton University in the Fall, Majoring in Mechanical and Nano Space Engineering. “My advice would be to continue your passion, continue doing what you love and if you do that you'll end up in the right places and the right doors will open to you.”
The Class of 2020 Orlando-based Bank of America Student Leaders® also included: Evon Thompson, Maynard Evans High School; Jaya Dayal, Lake Highland Preparatory School; and Kaley Hale, Crooms Academy of Information Technology.
The 2021 application will open in November 2020. For more information or to apply online visit bankofamerica.com/studentleaders