After eight weeks of intense competition, the winner of the YMCA Intern Challenge is announced. Julia Orlando took the title and heard the coveted words, “you’re hired!”
Presenting sponsor Rockford University hosted the competition finale in Regent’s Hall on August 7, 2019.
Orlando is a 16-year-old junior at Stillman Valley High School. As an incredibly polished young leader, her commitment to excellence and determination set her apart from her peers. A strong academic background, and her history in sports allowed her to work well with her team, and to make the most of her opportunities this summer.
She receives a $1,500 college scholarship and a paid internship worth up to $5,000 with the organization of her choosing. Valeria Lira-Ruelas came in second place and receives a $1,000 college scholarship. The third place $500 college scholarship went to Edward Williams-Robinson.
The YMCA Intern Challenge started in 2012 as a way to approach mentorship and training of the younger generation in our community. This year there were 25 applicants, 10 were selected to participate in the challenge.
Our 2019 sponsors include presenting sponsor Rockford University, SupplyCore, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Trotter Manufacturing, Rockford Public Schools, Stillman Bank, Aqua-Aerobic Systems, DaVinci Industries, Blackhawk Area Council Boy Scouts of America, Rockford IceHogs, Manpower, Thayer Lighting, Northwest Bank and Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. The interns worked with many of the organizations as they created marketing plans, built recruitment plans, raised funds and more on a variety of topics geared towards each business’ needs.
“Nothing is more satisfying for us here at Rockford University than to be a part of a student’s learning journey,” said Rockford University President Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D. “It is for this reason that Rockford University is involved in the YMCA Intern Challenge. We can see how the students grow throughout the process, hone their skills and make new connections. Whether they are finishing high school, heading off to college or beginning their career - this experience will no doubt yield great dividends for them.”
In addition to their weekly challenges, as a group, the interns:
• Volunteered at Rockford ProAm resulting in $2,100 raised for the YMCA from the Drive a Lincoln test drives through Manley’s of Belvidere
• Sold over 750 ducks for the Rockford IceHogs and the Anything That Floats Race – resulting in $3,750 in revenue
• Collected well over 1,000 school supply items, which were donated to Conklin Elementary
• Gathered 522 pounds of food donations for the Boy Scouts Scouting for Food Drive
Since its inception, the YMCA has exposed more than 100 students to local opportunities through the YMCA Intern Challenge and provided $21,000 in college scholarships.
Photo caption (L to R): Valeria Lira-Ruelas, second place; Julia Orlando, first place; Edward Williams-Robinson, third place.