Congressman Jimmy Panetta (middle) meets with Bank of America Student Leaders Quinn Weisenfeld of Carmel and Alan Alcaraz of King City in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in July. (Contributed)

KING CITY — King City High School senior Alan Alcaraz was one of two local teens selected as the 2023 Bank of America Student Leaders in Monterey County, partaking in an eight-week paid summer internship providing first-hand work experience to high school students.

As part of the program, Alcaraz and Quinn Weisenfeld of Carmel interned at the Boys and Girls Club of Monterey County in Seaside and Salinas to help with general program operations and work with other youth, all while building essential workforce experience and leadership skills. 

The internship began in June and came to fruition July 28, after they traveled to Washington, D.C., for a week-long, all-expenses-paid, national leadership summit focused on the power of cross-sector collaboration and community advocacy.

At the first in-person Student Leaders Summit since 2019, more than 300 teens from across the United States met with members of Congress and participated in a community service project. Alcaraz and Weisenfeld were able to meet with local Congressman Jimmy Panetta during their visit.

“By providing the pathways and resources for young adults to gain the foundational work skills and leadership experience they need to succeed, we are investing in Monterey County’s long-term economic growth,” said Jennifer Dacquisto, president of Bank of America Monterey Bay. “These are extraordinary teens and already inspiring their classmates to higher levels of achievement and community involvement.”

Quinn Weisenfeld and Alan Alcaraz gather outside the Boys and Girls Club of Monterey County clubhouse in Seaside, where they interned this summer. (Contributed)

As a first-generation high school student and the son of agricultural workers, Alcaraz holds a 3.7 GPA at King City High while volunteering for his school and in the community. His goal is to enter the field of technology, and he hopes to one day build homes for the unhoused and find job opportunities for those who find themselves unhoused.

“I really want to thank BofA for this experience,” Alcaraz said. “The trip to D.C. was special to me because I got to see that the atmosphere is much friendlier than it is portrayed on television. I was captivated by everything.”

In addition to attending Carmel High School, where he has a 4.7 GPA, Weisenfeld volunteers at AIM Youth Mental Health to conduct research to support evidence-based approaches to mental health treatments. He also takes part in the “Grandpa Project,” a vital initiative that combats loneliness among older residents in the Monterey area.

“The internship at Boys and Girls Club in Seaside is fun and enriching; I am learning a lot of skills, especially in leadership,” Weisenfeld said. “When in D.C., I was inspired by some of the workshops in finance, and therefore I aspire to pursue a career in computer science with an emphasis on finance and economics.”

According to Bank of America, young people need access to workforce experience and career skills-building opportunities — given the changing economic environments and job market. The private sector has a role in “helping better position and supporting young adults to succeed in today’s workforce,” stated the company.

Along with the Student Leaders program, Bank of America is connecting teens and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to paid jobs and internships across Monterey County, including summer jobs with Santa Cruz Department of Education.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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