Summer job provides more than a paycheck

July 31, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Recent Issaquah High School graduate Maria Dalzell isn’t bagging groceries or working retail this summer.

Maria Dalzell

Instead, she is busy meeting CEOs, sitting in on board meetings and getting a first-hand look at how nonprofit organizations function through her paid internship at Seattle Goodwill.

Dalzell is among a handful of Puget Sound-area teens selected to participate in the Bank of America Student Leaders program. The program awards community-minded teens from across the country with an eight-week paid internship at a local charitable organization and a July trip to Washington, D.C., for a weeklong Student Leadership Summit.

During a time when the teen unemployment rate in Washington state is among the highest in the nation, Bank of America’s Student Leaders program and Summer Youth Employment Initiative provide meaningful summer work for teens.

“Youth unemployment is a big deal, especially since there are many more adults in the field looking for jobs,” Dalzell said. “What’s really special about programs like this is that it’s not just a job that you get over the summer, it’s a job that really prepares you for the big world, prepares you for college and prepares you for life.”

Seattle Goodwill is a nonprofit organization that has served the community for nearly 90 years. Its mission is to provide effective employment training and basic education to people who face barriers to economic opportunities. As an intern, Dalzell has met with everyone from the CEO to the people benefitting from the services that the nonprofit provides.

“The student leaders are meeting people from every walk of life,”  Barbara Nabors-Glass, Seattle Goodwill’s vice president of job training and education, said. “To be able to start at this age and learn how to interface and talk to folks from the poorest of the poor to the highest of the high, to gain those skills and the confidence, is so important.”

Nabors-Glass has worked closely with Dalzell and said she was impressed with her determination and maturity. In fact, Dalzell has taken on a personal project, combining her love for community service and her aspiration to become a military doctor by formulating a plan to determine what role Goodwill can play in serving returning veterans and their families.

“She really has a care and concern for the military,” Nabors-Glass said. “So, leveraging that and her desire to be a part of the military, we decided that a good thing for her to work on is to try and reach out and identify leaders in the veteran service community and try to get them to the table for Goodwill, and help us shape our programming.”

Nabors-Glass said Dalzell has already made contact with officials on the state and county levels who are interested in working with Goodwill.

Dalzell was chosen as a student leader because of her strong passion for community service. As a member of the Issaquah Youth Advisory Board, Dalzell spent nearly 400 hours coordinating youth events and collecting supplies for the local food bank. She was also involved with ROTC.

The next community Dalzell joins will be that of Seattle University, where she will enroll this fall. Her plan is to study medicine and leadership.

“I do want to pursue medicine, whether it be medicine that we all think about, such as surgery, or just public health,” she said. “If I can join the military as a doctor, hopefully I will be able to pursue that.”

Dalzell plans to use her invaluable experience with Goodwill in her future endeavors.

“I’m extremely grateful and blessed to have this opportunity,” she said. “I understand that not everybody gets this. I wish everybody did.”

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