Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Internships open eyes and lead to self-discoveries

When Breonni Sawyer returns to King High for her senior year, she will be able to regale her fellow students with tales of waltzing through the monuments in Washington, D.C.

Yet Sawyer's biggest trip this summer may be a personal journey of self-discovery.

As one of five Hillsborough County interns in Bank of America's Neighborhood Excellence Initiative program, Sawyer spent eight weeks working at the Brandon Boys & Girls Club. The Brandon resident helped guide Club Tech, a Tampa Bay Technology Forum Foundation program that teaches kids the ins and outs of starting a business.

Sawyer said the real breakthrough, however, came during her work with a student who has shown signs of autism.

"We had one autistic child, and I felt like he touched me because I worked with him one-on-one," said Sawyer, 17. "He listened to me and responded to me because I had the patience to deal with him.

"He knew I wasn't going to try and get him in trouble every time he does something. Working with him kind of opened my eyes to working with kids with disabilities."

Sawyer said the experience inspired her to redirect her college plans. A member of King High's International Baccalaureate program, she already had designs on majoring in public administration with a focus on children. Now she specifically wants to work with kids with disabilities such as autism.

"Working at the Boys and Girls Club, I've learned so much about myself and about kids and people in need," Sawyer said.

Akil Craig, 18, echoed Sawyer's sentiments. The Jesuit High grad, who will attend the University of Miami and walk on the football team this fall, spent his internship at the Jackson Springs Boys & Girls Club. The experience left him with a greater appreciation for his mom and dad.

"My parents always say, 'You'll find out what it's like when you have your own kids,' " Craig explained. "(At the club), I learned what it's like to have 119 kids. It was crazy. I figured this is what my parents meant when they said 'You're not listening.'

"But it was just fun hanging out with the kids."

Three other students participated in the program. Mallika Dubey, a recent Tampa Prep graduate, also interned at a Boys & Girls Club, while Tampa residents Amanda Bowen and Ting Cho Lau, rising seniors at Robinson High School, spent their eight weeks at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

"I'm on the board at the performing arts center, and when I went to a board meeting Amanda and Ting were sitting right there," said Bill Goede, Bank of America market president for Hillsborough County. "That's the great thing about our partners. The interns aren't just making photo copies. They're getting involved."

The interns also traveled to Washington for a week-long Student Leadership Seminar. Not only did they see the sights, but they also enjoyed seminars on such topics as financial literacy, business etiquette and leadership.

"I learned a lot of things about myself and my leadership abilities and capabilities," Sawyer said. "I feel that I haven't been putting them to their best use. I feel like in my community, I can do so much more."

If you ask me, the journey is just starting for these five future leaders.

That's all I'm saying.

Internships open eyes and lead to self-discoveries 08/13/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries


    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  2. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  3. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91


    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  4. Mastermind of lottery rigging scam that netted millions faces 25 years


    DES MOINES, Iowa — For a decade, computer programmer Eddie Tipton reliably showed up for work at the central Iowa office of the Multi-State Lottery Association and earned the confidence of his co-workers, a team of technicians entrusted to build computers used to randomly pick numbers for some of the most popular …

    FILE - In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association information security director who admitted to masterminding a scheme to rig lottery games that paid him and others $2 million from seven fixed jackpots in five states, is seen in court in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) IADES501
  5. Pasco County man killed in wrong-way crash on New Jersey Turnpike


    MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Authorities say a Florida man driving the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike was killed when his SUV crashed head-on into another vehicle.