Student Leaders shine at Restoration House

Beth KinnaneOur Town Youth, West Knox County

Applications will open in November for an innovative summer intern program that puts high school students at non-profits. Along with job training, they also participate in a week-long virtual leadership conference. Every year, 300 high school juniors and seniors are chosen from across the country. This year, two outstanding individuals from Knoxville were chosen to work with Restoration House (see stories here and here).


Ayanna Albright, a 2021 graduate of L&N STEM Academy, is now a freshman at Howard University. Albright and her peers created the Beck Young People’s Council in response to a Community Racial Justice Discussion with a youth panel and adult panel. She helped to plan community service and education seminars on a variety of topics such as financial literacy, Covid-19 safety, and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). She also organized the “Warm Thoughts Project” through STEM’s Key Club, where she collected and distributed scarves and blankets with personalized messages of encouragement for people in need.

Jahneulie Weste, a senior at Fulton High School, has a passion for improving the Knoxville community. She noticed a lack of resources for Spanish speakers in Knoxville and has taken it upon herself to learn the language to become an advocate on their behalf. She organized a human trafficking event at her school and worked with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to teach her peers how to spot warning signs of friends who may be abused or who are vulnerable to trafficking. Weste is also the National Honor Society president at Fulton.

“I developed great relationships with my co-workers,” Weste said, adding that she enjoyed learning data entry and social media management. “I really enjoyed learning new things. I have a new sense of who I am, and that I am capable of handling a full-time job.”

Albright said she really wanted to work and get the feel for professional communications and learning formalities in the workplace.

“I love the mission,” she said of Restoration House’s work to help struggling families get back on their feet and transitioned to good jobs and permanent housing. “I got way more out of this than I thought I would. I’m part of another little family now.”

Daniel Watson is the co-founder of Restoration House and its executive director. He said the program helps these student leaders “gain a new perspective on things. They are not just learning, now they are helping the community.”

Lina Kornmeyer is Bank of America Knoxville’s market executive. She said the Student Leaders program, sponsored by the bank, is the way the company “invests in the next generation of leaders.”

“This is my favorite program that we do,” Kornmeyer said. “Every year the group gets stronger. We have an obligation to these communities where we do business, and this is a tremendous opportunity for these students.”

To learn more about the program, go here.

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for KnoxTNToday.com

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