Sykesville high schooler chosen as a Bank of America student leader, interned at nonprofit

Chris Davis isn't a newcomer to community service. The Sykesville resident and rising senior at Liberty High School is a member of the Civil Air Patrol, where he is Cadet Chief Master Sergeant.

"Almost every weekend I go on a search-and-rescue exercise," he said. "We search for missing persons or downed aircrafts."

Because of his commitment to helping better his community, Davis was one of four students in the region to be selected to take part in Bank of America's Student Leaders program. Students were chosen this year to take part in the experience in more than 40 cities across the U.S.

The local program chooses from junior and senior applicants in select Baltimore-area counties to receive a paid eight-week internship at Teach for America in Baltimore.

Teach for America is a nonprofit that recruits recent college graduates and professionals to receive training and teach for two years in low-income communities throughout the United States.

Brooke Hodges, senior vice president at Bank of America in Baltimore, said the program is intended to teach high-school students about service and leadership with a meaningful on-the-job experience.

It is the third year the program has partnered with Teach for America, which allows students to spend time with recent college graduates who have decided to give back to the community.

"That really jived well with the purpose of this program," she said.

Students get to work in different departments and experience everything from a board meeting to shadowing the executive director or helping out in the fundraising office.

"It's a very focused program to expose the students to a broad range of everything a nonprofit has to do," Hodges said.

Students will also travel to Washington, D.C., to take part in a national Student Leadership Summit this month where they will experience leadership training, network with other students from around the country and participate in a service project.

The students get to spend time on Capitol Hill and volunteer, while also having fun and visiting the sites in the nation's capital.

Davis was chosen from a pile of many other applicants and stood out because of his accomplishments, such as earning hundreds of community service hours, and life focus. He has the determination to follow his dreams, Hodges said.

Davis has been with the Air Force auxiliary for four years and wants to join the military one day. He would like to study aeronautical science after high school.

"I definitely want to fly planes, with or without the military," he said.

Davis is also a member of the Maryland Table Tennis Association, which is a nonprofit located in Eldersburg that strives to promote table tennis play.

During his internship, he has enjoyed having the experience of working in an office, which he thinks has prepared him for life after high school. It also looks great on his resume, he said.

"I would like to think this internship is definitely teaching me about the job life," Davis said.

Now he has learned about the education gap that exists in poor parts of the city. Davis did a study of the 55 Baltimore neighborhoods, which included their statistics and demographics. He did a PowerPoint on each of them so teachers who are assigned to the neighborhoods could learn more about them.

"I like to work for nonprofit organizations so I wanted to help out my community and learn more about Baltimore," Davis said.

Mark Procopio, manager of corporate and foundation relations for Teach for America in Baltimore, manages the intern program and works with all of the students.

Each year, Teach for America has been continuously impressed with the student leaders, he said. They are fast learners, responsible and act professionally. They also work hard to make teachers who are new to Teach for America feel welcome during their orientation to Baltimore, in addition to helping ensure that the introduction week runs smoothly, Procopio said.

Davis works for the nonprofit's teacher leadership development team, where he mapped out teacher and administrator Teach for America alumni who still work in the Baltimore City school system, among other projects, Procopio said.

He describes Davis as professional, polite and a diligent worker.

"He has never said that he could never do something," Procopio said. "What's most impressive is he is constantly seeking feedback."

Procopio hopes the interns are taking note of how the teachers are going out in the community and impacting change.

"We really hope that they walk away knowing that any person or any number of people can bring about positive change in their communities," he said.