Windermere High senior Mackenzie Johnson was one of five students in the Central Florida area to participate in the Bank of America Student Leaders program this summer.
Not many high-school students can say they have volunteered at three different hospitals and a church, worked a paid internship and met with local politicians in the nation’s capital — all in one summer.
But 17-year-old Mackenzie Johnson, a senior at Windermere High School, wrapped up her summer with all that accomplished.
Johnson recently completed an eight-week, paid internship at Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida’s Universal branch through the Bank of America Student Leaders program.
“We met Mackenzie in person, and she just further exemplified everything that she had written about and felt abut leadership, what she felt were important issues in the community and how she’s working above and beyond what she does in school.” — Jodie Hardman
“Since 2004, Bank of America has conducted a student-leaders program, and it was really our goal to identify and nurture young leaders and help them build their capacity as future leaders,” said Jodie Hardman, senior vice president and market manager for Bank of America in Orlando. “We do it across more than 45 markets nationwide: Every year we pick five students (in each market) who are juniors and seniors. We reach out looking for students like Mackenzie who have a passion for giving back and doing more, and for recognizing a need in the community, their schools and neighborhoods and serving.”
Johnson comes from a small town outside of Nashville and only has lived in the Horizon West area for a year. But as soon as she moved, she knew it was important to get involved in her new community. She currently volunteers at Orlando Regional Medical Center, Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and at her church with preschoolers. Additionally, she has participated in cleanup days with Bok Tower Gardens and mentors a fellow Windermere High student.
“At my old high school, I played volleyball, and during volleyball season, I wasn’t able to do nearly as much volunteering,” Johnson said. “When I moved, I missed tryout dates, and I decided I didn’t want to do single tryouts. … Finding time with not playing a sport has been easier, but I really have to monitor how I spend my time. … I have to keep time in perspective to be able to do all the things that I do.”
Johnson, who aspires one day to become a neurosurgeon and open a nonprofit hospital in a developing country, discovered the Bank of America Student Leaders program through the school’s college and career specialist. She was one of five students out of more than 100 applicants in the Orlando area to be chosen.
“We met Mackenzie in person, and she just further exemplified everything that she had written about and felt about leadership, what she felt were important issues in the community and how she’s working above and beyond what she does in school,” Hardman said. “A lot of teenagers who are volunteering, it’s because of required hours, but (for) Mackenzie it’s innately how she’s wired. She wants to do more than what is expected, because it feels good to her but also she’s making a difference. That’s what we want to nurture.”
For seven weeks this summer Johnson worked with children in summer camps at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, but from July 8 to 13 she and the four other Orlando-area students selected embarked on an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
More than 230 student leaders attended the summit to receive financial-literacy training; discuss issues pertinent to society; learn how the government and nonprofits work together to advance social change; and meet with change makers on a national level.
“It was an encouraging trip,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, the youth can be viewed (like) our opinions don’t matter because we can’t vote, but to have all of these important people looking at us as the future, that for me is what this entire trip was about. Their motto is ‘Serve, Inspire, Change,’ and I got to see all of that in action.”