Each student has different passions, goals and experiences; therefore, their learning and development should reflect those. At Student U, high school students have the opportunity to take what they have learned in school and through the Student U program and apply it to “the real world.” So, you can find bright, ambitious 11th-grade Student U students working hard and achieving greatness throughout Durham.
Student U 11th-grade students who aim to gain professional experience even before they enter a college or university express their interests to Student U Internship Program Coordinators who then identify internships with which those interests align. Dewayne Barnes-Knox, an 11th-grade Student U student who has been with the organization since he was a rising 6th-grader, is currently interning with SciMed Solutions, an innovative software company located in downtown Durham. At SciMed, Dewayne is learning about the language developers use to create websites and is creating a portfolio of his work that he can later use when applying to other internships down the road.
“[This internship is] really helping me get to my goal of helping others in the tech field. [It’s] helping me achieve greatness because it’s helping bring out a part of me that I’ve never known,” Dewayne said.
Although many interns remain on Student U’s Summer Academy campus, Durham Academy Middle School, nine Student U interns are spread throughout Durham. These high school students are interning at nonprofits such as the Book Harvest and KidzNotes, as well as larger companies such as SciMed. Having the opportunity to serve as an intern in high school gives students an advantage when applying for other internships in college. It also gives students the opportunity to receive hands-on experience and acquire important skills necessary for adapting to and understanding work environments, which contrast greatly with classroom environments.
Student U expects all members of its community to achieve greatness by progressing towards clear, challenging goals and strive to be excellent in all areas of life. Since this has been instilled in all of its students since they were in the 6th-grade, as high schoolers, they notice and appreciate the organization and the support it provides.
“[Because of] all of the college tours and opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten had I not been in Student U, [the organization has] impacted me by filling my summers up with a really rich curriculum and [a lot of] fun…Academically, [it’s] getting me prepared for what I’m going to experience next year,” Dewayne said.
America Lopez Montoya has a similar view of the impact Student U has made on her life.
“Student U has impacted my life by giving me a bunch of opportunities that I can later use and learn from,” Amerika said. She also mentioned the commitment of the teachers and staff in ensuring their students are achieving greatness. “What I love most about Student U is that every person that works there wants to see you succeed and will help you succeed along the way.”
With the support of Student U, these students are encouraged to dream big—and they are.
Lizbeth De La Fuente, an on-site intern working as a Program Assistant for Student U, shared her plans for the future.
“[My plan is to work] in the medical field, but for right now, I want to be a physician’s assistant,” Lizbeth said. “Maybe in the future, I might change my mind and become a pediatrician.”
Dewayne has also contemplated what he wants to do in the future: research artificial intelligence and develop robots.
“I’m going to major in robotics in college and I want to create specialized artificial intelligence where [robots] solve problems and give us solutions about different things in more specific areas of science and technology,” Dewayne said.
Even though these students are still in high school, the future they are planning is not very far away. Once they graduate high school and enter college, having already had internship experience will make these students stand out amongst their peers and help them earn other internships. Therefore, this summer internship experience will most likely enable Student U students to have a headstart on doing work that they’re passionate about.