As a rising junior at The Ohio State University, it was easy to consider local Chicagoan Alex Boustany (also known as Alex #2) for our summer 2016 internship position. With numerous leadership accolades already under her belt at OSU, her ideas and contributions have already aided the WFF team and we’re excited to see how she grows as we plan our Storybook Gala and future events! We took some time to learn more about her and her goals for the upcoming year.

MB -You grew up with sports including softball, but your passion and talents were in gymnastics, how did that shape your growth into the person you are today?

AB – When I started going to classes at the gym, I was 3 years old and it was pretty much just a fun thing to do a couple days a week. When they asked me if I wanted to move up to the competition level, it was definitely a shock, but an exciting one! This changed the way my whole life worked because I was now expected to go to practice 5 days a week for almost 3 hours a day…the practices would get longer as I got older. Eventually, my two younger sisters joined me and it became a family affair. Gymnastics is a very physical sport as most people witness during the Olympics, but it is also a mental sport. It takes a lot of discipline, determination, and focus. Doing gymnastics for so many years taught me to be diligent, to understand how to function on a strict schedule and how to overcome obstacles.

What does supporting Chicagoland youth mean to you?

To me, supporting Chicagoland youth means trying to give them opportunities to succeed. Many of the kids in these underserved areas have so much potential, but they don’t have the chance to uncover all they can do. I believe that if they are given the right tools to see what they can accomplish, that this will completely change their lives for the better.

Do you have any memorable or shocking experiences in your time so far at the Foundation?

Growing up in here in Chicago, I had always heard of all the awful things that were going on around the city. There’s never a shortage of shootings, robberies, etc. on the news. However, to have the opportunity to go and help out at a school on the West Side where things like this happen on a daily basis has definitely been an eye opener. The kids I’ve gotten to meet have gone through so much at such a young age, and it just doesn’t seem right that they’ve had to experience some of the things that have happened to them. It’s really helped put things in perspective.

With a minor in non-profit etc., how do you think this internship will help you in the future? Is there anything specific you want to learn?

This internship is my first official introduction to working in the non-profit world. So far it has exceeded my expectations. I’ve been learning so much, and everyone at WFF is very inclusive of me in their projects, which helps in so many ways. I think that all the skills I learn here and the experiences I have will easily be applied to my remaining time at Ohio State as well as when I actually enter the non-profit realm. As for specifics, I value this entire experience as important, so I came into this internship wanting to learn as much as I could instead of having specific things I wanted to accomplish.

Why should someone who is not familiar with the Wood Family Foundation support our programs?

I would first off suggest that they look into all the good that the Wood Family Foundation does. The lack of opportunities available to underserved youth is such a pressing problem that directly correlates to how the city functions. By helping these kids early on, it could eventually change everything. I know this sounds like I’m looking through rose-colored glasses, but I honestly believe that that is the difference this foundation can make. With the right time and money being donated to these kids and the programs that the foundation offers them, it could change the way they view themselves and what they have to offer to society. They may be more motivated to continue their education and go to High School, which means fewer kids going into the gangs, which eventually means less violence. I would highly encourage anyone who is interested in what the foundation stands for, to consider donating their time or money because it will make a difference.