For Students at Cleveland’s Saint Martin De Porres High School, Work Experience Pays
Angenetta “Angie” Boyce has a passion for architecture, so when the 14-year-old got a chance to view Cleveland from a conference room window on Key Tower’s 55th floor, her imagination raced. Maybe one day, she would design a building to grace the city’s skyline.
For some teens, that might seem like an impossible dream, but for Boyce, a freshman at Saint Martin De Porres High School, it's not. Like all Saint Martin students, Boyce participates in the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP). In keeping with the school’s mission to help students with limited economic means thrive in both academic and professional settings, the CWSP connects students with Cleveland-area businesses to provide them with real-world workplace experience.
Saint Martin’s CWSP coordination team paired Boyce with Key. As an honors algebra student with an eye for building design, she sees it as a perfect fit.
“I get mesmerized by the view,” she says.
And it’s not only the view, which fuels her dreams of becoming an architect, that she likes; it’s also the people she interacts with.
“I love coming downtown every week and working with people that are always smiling and interested in helping me better my future,” says Boyce. “It’s so awesome.”
The wages Saint Martin students earn through the high school study work program offset the cost of their education. Since 2004, more than $17 million has been generated by students working at more than 100 participating Cleveland-area businesses and organizations. The effort not only helps thousands of students build the skills and work ethic necessary to successfully enter the workforce, it enables Saint Martin to sustain itself without the more conventional tuition and fundraising-reliant model used by other schools.
Boyce works one day a week at Key, helping the community relations and marketing team with a wide variety of projects. One of her favorite responsibilities is assisting the teams with research because it gives her a look into the different roles regional organizations play in the community. One week she might be surveying Keep It Local Cleveland’s current membership and operating structure; the next she could be gathering insights on the internship program at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Boyce says she feels fortunate to work at Key, and the feeling is mutual.
“We are thrilled to welcome students from Saint Martin De Porres,” said Kip Clarke, KeyBank Cleveland market president, who notes that Key is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a corporate partner with Saint Martin.
“One of of the most important things we can do as Cleveland’s hometown bank is to reach out to our young people and give them the skills and experience they need to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce. And Angie makes it easy. By all accounts from everyone on the team, she is an absolute joy to work with.”
By the time they graduate, Saint Martin students will have spent close to 150 full days immersed in practical lessons on basic business skills, effective workplace communication, standard professional conduct and practical teamwork through the CWSP – all on top of their rigorous academic curriculum. Not many high schoolers have the opportunity to participate in such an extensive real-world work atmosphere.
This is the message Boyce carries forward as a member of the Saint Martin Recruiting Force, introducing the Saint Martin experience to prospective students.
“My job at Key is usually the number one thing I tell them about,” said Boyce. “I tell them I get to work downtown and learn how to be successful and meet my goals. It makes them excited to come to Saint Martin.”
Not surprisingly, Boyce has high aspirations for her future. She says a recent school announcement celebrating the admission of a Saint Martin student to Harvard University has her considering a similar goal.
“Architecture is something that will take me far in my life if I dedicate myself to it. So I want to make sure that I keep receiving the best education possible. Going to the best college will set me up to go far,” said Boyce.
With her work ethic and a community dedicated to lifting its next generation of leaders, it may not be long before Boyce makes her mark on the Cleveland skyline.