By Raymond P. Diamond

“If I could relive that [experience], I would.”

– Adelina Salianga

Adelina Salianga, who was born in Angola, moved to Portland when she was 5 years old, and will soon graduate Casco Bay High School and go on to college, served as a Bank of America Student Leader during the summer of 2023. She said that the eight-week internship changed her life, and hopes others will consider applying for internships. The Student Leader internship has already closed for summer 2024, but other organizations also offer internships.

During her time as a Student Leader, Salianga interned with the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine, where she worked with children in kindergarten through second grade, many of whom were from immigrant backgrounds. She helped them with English, writing, drawing, and general acclimation to life in the U.S. On “Culture Days,” she prepared food from some of the children’s countries of origin, which some said they had not tasted since entering the U.S. The joy and happiness on the children’s faces as they tasted the familiar flavors of home was heartwarming, she said.  

In addition to helping the children with their English, a bonus for Salianga was that the children helped her brush up on her Portuguese. She had let her Portuguese lapse since arriving in the U.S. a decade ago, when learning English became her priority. In addition to English and Portuguese, Salianga speaks Lingala. 

A feature of the Student Leader internship program is a one-week trip to the Washington, D.C., area. During her trip, Salianga visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the United States Holocaust Museum, and the Capitol building. While at the Capitol she was brave enough to ask a senator she encountered about the possibility of an internship with him, and was told to contact him during the middle of her freshman year of college – which is now right around the corner. Salianga has applied to a number of colleges, and has already been accepted to Suffolk University and University of Massachusetts Boston. She feels sure that Casco Bay High School has prepared her for college, and the internship experience was a plus that opened her world to possibilities. She now plans to go to law school one day, and is interested in both criminal law and politics.

The Bank of America [internship] will definitely [allow] you connections that you would never think of

– Adelina Salianga

“The Bank of America [internship] will definitely [allow] you connections that you would never think of, ” she said, noting that she also met contemporaries from across the country on her Washington, D.C., trip, including Florida, California, New York, North and South Carolina, Texas, and elsewhere.

Salianga wants to encourage those interested in applying for the Bank of America Student Leader program to ask for help with the application process. In her case, Mulki Hagi, a Casco Bay High School staff member whom she described as a “second mom,” assisted her step by step through the application process. Hagi is a teacher in the Make It Happen program, which the Portland Public Schools website describes as “a college readiness program that helps multilingual students build competitive academic profiles for college admission and financial aid.

To be eligible for the internship, one must currently be a junior or senior in high school; be legally authorized to work in the United States without sponsorship; be able to participate in an eight-week paid internship at a local nonprofit/charitable organization and work 35 hours a week; be able to participate in a week-long Student Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C.; be a student in good standing, and must be a student of either Casco Bay High School, Portland High School, Deering High School, Cheverus, Baxter Academy, or Waynflete. For more information: https://about.bankofamerica.com/en/making-an-impact/student-leader-eligibility-criteria.