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Life as a 2020 Graduate: Through the Eyes of Two Treasure Coast Bank of America Student Leaders

photo provided; artwork by Tania Ortega-Cowan

Thanks to COVID-19, the high school class of 2020 has had an experience like no other before. We wanted to hear firsthand and that’s when we learned about two local students chosen as Bank of America’s 2020 Student Leaders.

BS: My name is Bryce Shevak. I am a graduate of John Carroll High School this year.

CM: Hello. I’m Claudia Magne. I just graduated from Treasure Coast High School. I was top ten.

Claudia had a 5.4 GPA, and Bryce was class president for four years. First, we wonder, what their senior year has been like. The feelings are, mixed.

BS: We had a drive by graduation. Everyone decorated their cars. So, that was really great. it was a super unique graduation and it will be one that no one ever forgets.

CM: It was very odd. I was hoping to experience prom. And I already bought a dress actually in February. And we just took photos instead of actually going to prom.

She finds solace in this:

CM: Everything happens for a Reason. Things look down right now. It will, it will come through and you just can’t see it yet.

The two were chosen for the Bank of America Student Leader paid internship - it’s $5000 each – because of their extensive community service.

Credit provided by Tamara Matthew
Tamara Matthew, Bank of America Market Manager for the Treasure Coast

TM: We’re really looking for their involvement within the community and the service work that they do within the community.

That’s Tammy Matthew.

TM: I work for Bank of America and I am the Market Manager of the Treasure Coast market.

The program started nationwide in 2004 and came to the Treasure Coast last year.

TM: It was part of our ongoing commitment to preparing a diverse pipeline of community-minded young students with the leadership training they need to be successful in the work force.

Among a long list of volunteer activities, both students have put in many hours, coincidentally, fighting food insecurity. Claudia at Sarah’s Kitchen in Ft Pierce.

CM: At Sarah’s Kitchen, I think I volunteered over 200 hours within three years.

Bryce and his younger brother started their own food drive a few years ago.

Credit provided by Bryce Shevak
Bryce Shevak

BS: We started off small.  

They left notes in the doors of neighbors asking for non-perishable food items.

BS: And we’d pick the food up in a little red wagon and since then it has just gotten bigger and bigger and bigger, collecting hundreds and hundreds of pounds of food every year. It resonated this year, especially with the virus.

Here’s Matthew again:

TM: The program changed this year due to COVID-19.  So typically this paid summer internship was an internship done at a local nonprofit.

Instead, they created a virtual program focused on networking and social justice, meeting online four days a week for most of the summer with community and economic leaders, including Congressman Brian Mast. They also had to create a brand-new nonprofit.

BS: We built one from the ground up with a complete budget, operation strategy, and program goal.

They chose Justice in Education, highlighting…

BS: People who have done things for America that we don’t necessarily learn about.

He gives an example:

BS: The women who calculated the flight path to the moon. I know a movie came out about them, but I never really learned about them in school.

This fall, Bryce will attend in-person classes at Ave Maria University in southwest Florida majoring in government and politics and playing football. Claudia will be taking classes online at home from University of Central Florida, majoring in accounting.

Credit provided by Claudia Magne
Claudia Magne

CM: Ya, I’ll be staying home.

TOC: Ya? How do you feel?

CM: Um, I feel upset. Maybe next year or the year after I can go up there and actually have that college experience that I really want.

We ask Bryce to leave us with some wisdom:

BS: Just be yourself. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learn in life so far. It’s always better when you’re yourself.

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