Carmel Valley teen participates in Student Leaders Program


By Kristina Houck

Carmel Valley resident Suzanne “Suzy” Eiffert will complete her first internship before she even begins college. As part of the 2013 Bank of America Student Leaders Program, Eiffert participated in a week-long summit in Washington, D.C. and is spending the rest of her summer as an intern for a local nonprofit.

A recent graduate of Canyon Crest Academy, Eiffert was one of five San Diego-area high school students selected to take part in the program, which awarded 225 high school juniors and seniors from around the country with a trip to the nation’s capital and a paid eight-week summer internship at a nonprofit organization.

Eiffert, 18, is interning at Community HousingWorks, a San Diego-based nonprofit that offers affordable housing, financial classes and coaching services, loans and other community programs.

During her internship, Eiffert has developed activities and events for the Running Readers program, which aims to improve literacy skills in children. Running Readers is one of several programs offered at the organization’s 17 rental communities.

“I get to work both in the office and with kids all across San Diego,” Eiffert said. “It’s fascinating to see how you can create something and then see it happen with the kids.”

Although this is Eiffert’s first job and internship, she received some training while attending the Bank of America Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., from July 8-13. Summit activities included a service learning project and a series of interactive workshops, including Capitol Hill briefings and sessions on financial education and leadership development skills.

“It was nice to meet other kids from across the U.S. who were passionate about serving their community and giving back,” said Eiffert, who noted her favorite summit activities were the briefings and national monument tours. “I learned a lot about leadership, government and how important it is to serve your community.”

Eiffert is an active volunteer in the community. For six years, she was a member of National Charity League, a mother-daughter membership organization that serves communities across the country.

As a junior in high school, she began volunteering weekly at the Helen Bernardy Center for Medically Fragile Children at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. Her volunteer experience at the hospital inspired her to create the Helen Bernardy Center Club at school, which encouraged her peers to volunteer at the center.

“I think that there’s so many issues in the community that with a little bit of everyone’s help, they can be solved so easily,” Eiffert said. “It’s important to give back and help out any way you can.”

Eiffert, who plans to study math and Spanish at University of Puget Sound in the fall, encourages community-minded high school juniors and seniors to apply for the Student Leaders Program next year.

“It is an amazing opportunity, and I think everyone should apply to it if they can,” she said. “I’m so grateful to Bank of America for all that they’ve done for us. It was an incredible experience.”