While many high school and college students have been enjoying their summer off of school, 14 very motivated young adults spent their summer creating a positive change in the Rockford community. And for some, all the hard work really paid off.
We told you about the Rockford YMCA's Intern Challenge when it began 10 weeks ago. The program, which is structured like the T. V. show "The Apprentice," ended today with a bang, but not before putting the contenders through a rigorous contest.
For the past several weeks, potential interns worked in teams to help create a positive change in the Rockford community. They helped raise awareness on local health and safety issues, and practiced their public speaking skills.
Only three of the 14 interns made it to the final project, which was to promote Rockford as a good place to live and work.
"And now I'm making a decision that's important to them, but just as important to me to have somebody that represents Rockford that's younger and really has the passion to change this community for the better," said Mike Brown, CEO of the YMCA.
College senior Ashley Fiser was one of the three. Judges felt her final project was the best. She also sold the most tickets to an event at the Anderson Japanese Gardens. Her efforts earned her the grand prize, a paid internship with the YMCA, and a $3,500 scholarship.
"It's just an amazing feeling to finally show that all of our hard work paid off and I'm excited for what my future brings," said Fiser.
The runner up did not go away empty handed. Dominik Bennet got a $1,000 scholarship.
"The opportunities that came form this are incredible. I actually reached out to the media earlier last week during the finals and I got about three emails from different companies asking if I would like to be an intern," said Bennett.
The YMCA plans to do this competition again next summer. Executives say other "Y"s plan to do something similar, because the competition in Rockford was so successful.
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