Kira Reaves, a baking & pastry student, is meeting with her mentor and talking about internship possibilities which is remarkable because classes haven’t even started yet. Kira and 14 other incoming students are spending five weeks of their summer getting a head start on their college career. “I know my way around campus, I know the professors and stuff, I know my way around Charlotte, like overall, and I got some of my classes out of the way, so that’s good,” Kira says.
This is the Bank of America Student Investment Summer Program created for incoming first-year students in order to prepare them for the rigors of college. The students live within 60 miles of the Queen City and meet one of three criteria: low income, first-generation or academically at risk. They live in the residence halls and have a full college experience. “This is an incredible opportunity for the students, their tuition is covered, their books their supplies,” Lauren Smalley, program coordinator, says. “They are eating in the residence halls and we even have a budget for activities for the students so we’ve been able to get them out into the community to several museums, to a baseball game, and out to the whitewater center which is a uniquely Charlotte experience and most of the students had never been there before and they had a wonderful time.”
Fernando Miranda lives in Gaffney, SC, about an hour from campus. The distance alone is enough to make a new student nervous. But it didn’t take long for Fernando to fit in with his summer program classmates. The highlight for him was a visit to the 60th floor of Bank of America headquarters for a luncheon and meet and greet with bank executives – an honor for the finance and accounting major. “They were the ones who funded,” Fernando says. “So this was a great opportunity to meet them and see how they were part of our journey and them letting us begin college.”
And beginning college also means a course in financial literacy. Andree Taylor, senior financial analyst, presented Better Money Habits, BoA’s financial education program for young adults. From the classroom where they were studying survey of math and algebra and one-on-one time with mentors and tutors to time in the labs where they got information about uniforms, knife kits and class expectations and field trips. This is a program for students with guidance from JWU student peer mentors.
“It taught me a lot about myself,” Fanta Sokona ‘20 says. “I found out I like working with kids and helping them and directing them to the resources at the school.”
For Kira and Fernando, and the rest of their class, attending this Bank of America Student Investment Summer Program has been “investment” in their future.