Bank of America recognizes 2022 Student Leaders in the Upstate

From left to right: Jennifer Centa and Rishita Tikkala. Photo courtesy Bank of America

Bank of America announced two Upstate SC high school juniors and seniors completed their experience as Student Leaders® (#BofAStudentLeaders), an eight-week summer internship providing students with first-hand experience in serving their communities. These students worked in a paid internship experience focused on workforce skills, leadership, and civic engagement with local nonprofit United Ministries. As part of the program, they earned $17 per hour and received a Chromebook. Students had the option to voluntarily participate in in-person activities as part of the internship.

Without access to career skills-building opportunities like the Student Leaders program, many young people may be left behind from a fast-changing job market, leading to higher rates of youth unemployment. Along with the Student Leaders program, Bank of America is connecting more than 100 teens and young adults to paid jobs and internships across the Upstate with United Ministries, Launch GVL and Boys & Girls Club of the Upstate as part of its commitment to workforce development as a pathway to economic mobility.

“Bank of America remains committed to creating pathways to success for young adults in the Upstate by connecting them with employment, community engagement opportunities and leadership development,” said Stacy Brandon, president, Bank of America Upstate SC. “Programs like Student Leaders offer valuable job experience as well as interaction with business leaders, to prepare students for higher education and future careers.”

The Class of 2022 Upstate Bank of America Student Leaders were:
• Jennifer Centa, Mauldin High School
• Rishita Tikkala, Southside High School

These two students were selected for their leadership, background, passion and commitment to community.

Jennifer Centa

• Jennifer Centa is a 2022 graduate of Mauldin High School. She will attend Yale University in the fall and is interested in pursuing a career path involving STEM. Jennifer has been an active volunteer with the Mauldin Rotary Club, as well as events such as Rise Against Hunger and the Hope Relay. Additionally, she has helped teach Japanese classes with Upstate International and assisted ESL students with college applications. Her hobbies include music, tennis and embroidery. She was named among NPR’s “From the Top” Music Fellows.

Rishita Tikkala

• Rishita Tikkala is a rising senior at Southside High School and served as a presenter at the 2022 Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society. She plans to pursue a career in medicine and has volunteered with several Upstate area nonprofits such as Ronald McDonald House, Harvest Hope Food Bank, and Roper Mountain Science Center. Rishita has also volunteered with the MOMs program and food pantry at the OBGYN clinic for Prisma Health. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, reading and dance.

Started in 2004, the Student Leaders program recognizes 300 community-focused juniors and seniors from across the U.S. annually. The Upstate based Student Leaders participated in programming that included a collaborative, mentor-focused project with United Ministries to help develop guides for services such as emergency assistance and tuition assistance. The Student Leaders also helped prepare housing units for families in transition and maintained an inventory of hygiene kits.

“Here at United Ministries, relationships are at the heart of what we do every single day,” said Lizzie Bebber, Executive Director of United Ministries. “Both Rishita and Jennifer had an incredible ability to establish genuine caring relationships with both staff and participants throughout their time with us. They went the extra mile to ensure participants had access to resources they need and were always willing to jump in and help staff and volunteers whenever needed. They brought so much enthusiasm and curiosity with a desire to truly understand the complexities of the issues that contributed to poverty in our community. Rishita and Jennifer were invaluable members of the United Ministries team throughout their internship experience, and we are so grateful for their time and talent throughout the summer. Thank you to Bank of America for the opportunity to participate in the Student Leaders program!”

Bank of America Student Leaders also participated in a virtual Leadership Summit, delivered in partnership with the Close Up Foundation. The Summit included opportunities to engage with congressional leaders, hear from leaders in civil and human rights and participate in the Stanford University Young Democracy at Home program which encourages conversation about current issues facing young people today.

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