- April 18, 2018
When it comes to giving back, Jaya Dayal is more than happy to do whatever she can to make the world a better place.
The 18-year-old Windermere native — who just graduated from Lake Highland Prep — has kept herself busy throughout the years. She has dedicated countless hours to organizations like the Boys & Girls Club in downtown Orlando and Water for the World.
It’s that love for her community for which Dayal was picked to participate in Bank of America’s Student Leaders Program. The program offers Dayal — alongside Evon Thompson, Gedeon Guercin, and Kaley Hale — a $5,000 stipend and a six-week virtual summer internship program that teaches students about the varying roles that nonprofits play in the community.
“It’s a really great pairing of being actually able to engage and work in your local community with a nonprofit,” Dayal said. “But also learning these broader lessons about philanthropy in the corporate world, and about current issues like health care in the United States, racial inequality in the United States and being able to discuss it with other open-minded people who also want to effect change.”
Dayal first became active in the community in her 10th-grade year at Lake Highland Prep.
One day, she decided to go with a friend to the Boys & Girls Club in downtown Orlando, where her friend volunteered. The organization serves some of Orlando’s most underserved communities, and Dayal walked away feeling the need to do something.
“It was just kind of shocking for me — the disparity between the quality of education, the resources available and different sorts of things like that between my educational experiences and the educational experiences of a lot of the kids who went to the Boys & Girls Club,” Dayal said. “(It was) seeing that inequality and wanting to do what I could to fix it, and also seeing the sort of environment that the Boys & Girls Club provided for a lot of people — it’s a very encouraging environment.”
Dayal signed up to help children by offering up optional tutoring services for a few hours each Friday. Many of the students, she noticed, were multiple grades behind on different subjects, she said.
Although she enjoyed tutoring and volunteering, it wasn’t enough for Dayal. Ultimately, that’s what led her to applying to Bank of America’s program.
“I felt like this was a great opportunity to both be involved on an in-depth individual level at the branch but also learning about the nonprofit sector,” Dayal said.
Her work with the organization made her a strong candidate, but it wasn’t the only volunteer or activist work she had done.
Several years ago, Dayal’s brother started a club at Lake Highland Prep called Water for the World, which promotes increasing access to clean water around the world and raising awareness regarding the lack of accessibility to clean water for hundreds of millions of people.
“I ended up getting very involved in the club,” Dayal said. “As president, we just worked to kind of organize awareness campaigns — whether that was sidewalk chalk or library displays and things like that to make people aware of this issue.”
Currently, Dayal and those in the Leaders Program are just more than four weeks into their summer internship. Although they discussed numerous topics via online conference calls, the meat of the internship has seen the four helping to further develop the Boys & Girls Club’s Cyber Clubhouse — an all-virtual curriculum and place of fun and learning that was put into place when the organization’s physical locations were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“They asked us to create content in four different areas — education and career, leadership and service, sports and recreation, and then health and wellness,” Dayal said. “We have to create this content for both K-5, and then middle school and high school. It’s on a rotation system, where for the three weeks we have been doing it, we have just been doing different topic each time.”
Not only has the project been incredibly educational, but also it has helped Dayal get her out of her comfort zone every now and then.
For Dayal, who will be studying environmental health sciences at the University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill in the fall, the experience is one for which she always will be grateful.
“I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have this opportunity until I really got involved with this internship,” Dayal said. “I’ve just enjoyed it so much — it’s really been fulfilling the last few weeks.”