Students who need community service hours are involved in a wide variety of
programs and organizations. Javier Kowalchuk was a sophomore at the Center for International Education: A Cambridge Associate School, a Miami-Dade County Public Schools magnet high school in Homestead, when he volunteered for the Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT) Teen Court Program. One of the purposes of the court that deals with selected student violations is to, “Provide an avenue to reduce time spent out of school due to low-level infractions”. Students who volunteer: “Can be bailiffs, court clerks, jurors, defense attorneys or prosecuting attorney. Teens who serve as jury, defense and attorney will make a recommendation based on the type of offense that has been committed. After listening to arguments from both sides and jury deliberations, a judge will decide which sanction he or she will serve.”
Kowalchuk’s choice to serve in defense and prosecution roles means he’s been able to learn the process from both perspectives. Aside from academic and civic aspects, there is a real-world impact. For him, “Being able to help my fellow peers make better choices for their lives has been a one-of-a-kind experience.”
This is not his only extra-curriculum activity as he is also president of the Model United Nations team and a member of the inaugural Speech and Debate team. These were among the accomplishments that led to his selection as one of four high school students in the Miami area as a 2019 Bank of America Student Leader.
“The Student Leaders program is part of Bank of America’s overall commitment to connect young people to the education and training they need to enter the workforce,” said Erin Sutherland, Miami market executive for Bank of America. “These students spend their summer acquiring skills needed to accomplish their career goals which ultimately strengthens our community. Since 2004, the Bank of America Student Leaders program has
connected more than 3,000 young adults nationwide, 75 right here in Miami, with summer employment opportunities and has supported their ongoing commitment to service and leadership in the community.”
Kowalchuk was searching for potential scholarships when he found the Student Leader program description and applied. In a major component of the program he joined almost 300 other awardees in Washington, D.C. for an exciting week at the Student Leaders Summit. While there was the opportunity to visit a number of the famous monuments, the focus of the trip was to meet civic and business leaders as well as interact with students from diverse backgrounds. This, too, was a one-of-a-kind experience for Kowalchuk.
“Being in Homestead, you know about local things, but meeting other student leaders from all around the country, you learn about issues in other places. It was inspiring to hear their passion when they talked about causes they were involved in. We also had the chance to meet with different leaders, to include Mr. Brian Moynihan, Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America. As Florida student leaders we talked with Senator Rick Scott, and Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.”
There were multiple dimensions to the week, all of which were designed to stimulate exchanges and ideas of what the future can hold. Despite his volunteerism to date, Kowalchuk is far from taking a break. “This has inspired me to give back even more to my community. I want to use every position I’m in to give back as much as possible. I want to talk to other students, too and inspire them to do more community support as well.” He enthusiastically recommends competing to be a Bank of America Student Leader.
As a senior, Kowalchuk will be applying to in-state and out-of-state
universities, to include Ivy League choices. For now, his path is geared to economics, public policy and finance. Among the lessons he brought back from the Student Leaders Summit was, “The week in Washington showed how for-profit businesses, civic leaders and citizens can work together to make our communities