Q&A with Lesly Amaya, Urban Alliance Northern Virginia Alum

During Lesly Amaya’s junior year at Justice High School, she was at the crossroads of deciding where to apply for a first job. After an insightful conversation during lunch with a Program Coordinator from Urban Alliance, Lesly decided to apply for Urban Alliance’s High School Internship Program. We recently caught up with the soon-to-be George Mason University graduate as we prepare for Spring2ACTion, our annual 24-hour fundraiser benefiting our Northern Virginia region. 

How did you begin your journey with Urban Alliance? 

My journey with Urban Alliance started my junior year of high school back in 2016. I heard about the program one day when the program coordinator for the Northern Virginia (NOVA) region, Kiara Craig, came to our school and explained what the program was during lunch. I was not going to do it at first because I was too shy and it was something out of my comfort zone; I also did not think that I would be accepted into the program. However, my friend convinced me to apply so I did, and I soon found out that I had been accepted. I did the high school internship prep program for about a year and then I did the Summer STEM camp. After I completed my internship, I succeeded in completing Urban Alliance’s Public Speaking Challenge.

What did you do when you were an Urban Alliance intern? What were some of your favorite moments?

I have done two internships thanks to Urban Alliance. The first was during the high school program and I interned at Bank of America as a digital ambassador educating customers on mobile, online, and ATM banking. I was able to interact with various customers which helped me in developing my communication skills more. Again, before Urban Alliance I was very shy and did not talk much to others outside my friend group and family. As the time went by, helping the customers and interacting with them became one of the things I enjoyed. I also enjoyed getting to know and learning from the people that I worked with. Everyone got along well and was very friendly. It was honestly a great working environment and we all worked well as a team.

What is the biggest impact Urban Alliance has had on you? What is something you learned while interning with Urban Alliance that you’ll carry with you forever?

Urban Alliance has impacted me in many ways. I was able to grow emotionally and socially. I learned to break out of my shell, and I can now approach problems with confidence. I used to be anxious about public speaking, but now I’m not. I was able to improve in this area because of all the support that I received from Urban Alliance. I felt that I was better prepared for college where you have to really utilize those organization, time management, problem solving, teamwork, and communication skills that we were taught in the high school internship prep program.

They also helped prepare me for what comes after college such as applying for jobs and writing cover letters and resumes. I also have great work experience that I was able to add to my resume thanks to Urban Alliance. One thing that I will carry with me forever that Urban Alliance taught me is that I need to be confident in myself. If I have confidence in myself then I can get through even the most difficult of situations.

Why is it important to keep programs like Urban Alliance funded?

It is important to keep funding programs like Urban Alliance because they teach students necessary life and job skills that will help them thrive in the future. They also motivate students to pursue the career of their dreams and not let barriers get in the way. They are another support system for their students not just professionally, but also emotionally. From my experience, the students develop a close relationship with their program coordinators and they know they can rely on them for help, even for the simplest thing such as getting personal advice. This is the support that students need in order to succeed. They need to know that they have someone in their corner willing to support them even after high school. Urban Alliance is a program that does that.