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Student leaders: Bank of America program focuses on future

🕐 7 min read

Bank of America Student Leaders program

Open to high school juniors and seniors

Offers paid internships with nonprofits, trip to leadership summit in Washington, D.C.

Application period for 2019 opens this fall.

Information: www.bankofamerica.com/studentleaders

The nation’s next leaders are among the students of today. Among those leaders is Alex Yudice, a rising senior at V.R. Eaton High School in the Northwest Independent School District.

Yudice has already started a business that creates sculptures from recycled metal. He’s also an articulate local voice for youth and entrepreneurship and an ambassador for the city of Fort Worth.

And he’s one of just 225 students from across the nation, including five from the Fort Worth area, who were selected to be a part of Bank of America’s Student Leaders program.

Students Leaders is a philanthropic program for young people who are passionate about improving their community. It offers them a way to build workforce and leadership skills through a paid summer internship with a nonprofit organization, along with participation in a national leadership summit in Washington, D.C.

Yudice spent this summer interning at the Ronald McDonald House in Fort Worth. But he wasn’t alone in furthering a cause. The four other local students chosen for the program were:

· Isaac Espinal, a senior at Trinity Valley High School and intern at Fort Worth Catholic Charities,

· Charlie Estes, a recent graduate of Paschal High School and intern at Ronald McDonald House,

· Kerry Mackenzie, a recent graduate of Trinity Valley and intern at Fort Worth Catholic Charities, and

· Monserrat Martinez, a senior at Trimble Tech High School and intern at Ronald McDonald House.

“Alex and his fellow Bank of America Student Leaders are outstanding examples of our next generation leaders in Fort Worth and the surrounding area,” said Bank of America’s Fort Worth market president, Mike Pavell. “Alex has demonstrated a maturity and life vision that is rare in high school students.

High school juniors and seniors can apply for the program each year in 48 communities where Bank of America does business. The process includes an application and a letter of recommendation from a principal, teacher or guidance counselor.

In each community, a Local Market Selection Committee composed of key community leaders, past program participants and other influencers reviews applications and chooses the students. Those selected each receive a paid eight-week internship at a local nonprofit (this year Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth and Catholic Charities of Fort Worth are hosts) and attend an all-expenses paid Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.. This year’s summit was July 8-13.

Yudice started his company, Metalura, through Junior Achievement of the Chisholm Trail at age 14. He’s been the company’s CEO for the past several years.

He identified a problem — discarded empty aluminum cans — and started a business making sculpture with what others had discarded.

He spoke with the Fort Worth Business Press about the program, his company and more:

What are your thoughts about the Student Leader program and how does it help youths such as yourself?

For starters, I’m grateful to Bank of America for recognizing young leaders and helping develop our skills as community service leaders. I think the program is amazing and provides a great opportunity for the other student leaders and me to learn. Our internships with Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth and Catholic Charities of Fort Worth give us the chance to lead our own projects and learn about leadership.

At Ronald McDonald House, I’m getting a chance to rotate through and learn about different departments. In the House Operations department, I recently made a list of resources, such as restaurants and things to do, for families staying here while their children receive medical treatment.

We were in Washington, D.C., with student leaders from all over the country to learn about building advocacy and inclusive leadership skills. We also discussed lots of timely topics, met with members of Congress, and did a service learning project at the American Red Cross.

Where did you get the idea to create sculptures and how long have you been doing it?

I participate in Junior Achievement in high school, and several years ago they gave us an opportunity to create our own start-up company. I live in Haslet, and since we live outside of city limits, we don’t have a government-issued recycling program. I wanted to do something about the empty soda cans that I’d see littering the area, so I came up with the idea of taking those cans, melting them and making sculptures.

I pulled a team together, experimented and eventually created our Aluminations. We call the company Metalura, and there are several other students from my high school who are part of our team. My team and I have become more of a family than a boss and employees. We’ve worked the company up from nothing to one of the most successful JA companies the state of Texas has ever had. I’m very proud of them and couldn’t have made it here without them.

How do you feel your work is impacting the environment?

Our company is the biggest source of recycling in Haslet, and we’re really proud of that. We’ve collected the equivalent of 6 cubic yards of compacted cans. That’s about 35,000 cans so far, and we hope to collect 60,000 total cans by the end of my senior year.

Where are you going to college and what do you plan to study?

I want to pursue a double major in entrepreneurship and marketing. I hope to work toward a 4-plus-1 degree to get my master’s degree in just five years. I’m interested in two schools, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State University. Both have excellent programs for my area of interest and are close to home.

What are your career goals?

After graduation, I want to continue my entrepreneur path and create my own business. I’m thinking about starting a business that involves art or music, two of my hobbies. After college, I plan to return to Fort Worth. I love everything about Texas and the only way I could stand to live anywhere else is if I were doing missions helping people in need.

What drew you to sculpting, and why recycled metal?

I’ve always loved art, whether it’s sculpting, music or photography. I’m passionate about all my art and had a goal of developing a business centered on creating it and showing it to the world in hope of inspiring it. Not many people believed in me when I started out. Only one of my teachers thought I’d make it past the first trade fair. Look at my team and me now and we’ve become national finalists. If there’s anything I want people to be left with after seeing what I do, it’s that the word “impossible” shouldn’t be in any dictionary.

Is there any particular sculpture of which you are most proud?

There are several sculptures that give me the most pride. One is called Lift Off and it reminds me of a rocket blasting off. The second one is called Titan. We call it that because it’s the largest piece we’ve ever created. It took 325 cans to complete. The last one we call Pandora because it reminded us of the jungles in the movie Avatar. Because of the granite piece Pandora was mounted on, it weighed in at roughly 30 pounds, making it the heaviest sculpture we had at the time.

Where can your work be seen?

The most common place you can find us is at trade fairs. We’ll post about them on our social media pages whenever we plan a new one. Both our Twitter and Instagram handles are @metalurafw. We have an e-commerce store, which is accessible through our regular website, www.metalurafw.com.

Any additional thoughts?

I highly recommend high school students apply for the Student Leaders opportunity next year. I can’t emphasize enough how much young people like myself need to believe in themselves. I firmly believe that it doesn’t matter who else thinks you can do something, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says, as long as you have that little voice in the back of your head telling you, “You’ve got this,” then there is no stopping you.

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