If knowing your destination is half the journey, Mi’Esha Ridgeway is well on her way to future success.

“My goals are to graduate high school with a 4.0 grade point average and attend the University of Michigan where I will major in either accounting or finance,” said Mi’Esha, who is entering her junior year at Martin Luther King High School and also takes classes at Golightly Career and Technical Center.

“And with the help of DSFI I think that may be a little easier. I can apply what I learned and experienced to avoid being so shy, and work even harder to reach my goals while having fun along the way.”

DSFI is an acronym for the Detroit Summer Finance Institute, a program founded by Suzanne Shank, president and CEO of Siebert Brandford Shank & Co., the largest minority- and woman-owned investment bank in the US.

This summer, for the 10th consecutive year, DSFI provided students a six-week paid summer internship, combining on-the-job experience with weekly seminars. The 2010 class of 20 students, all from Detroit high schools, gained meaningful work experiences from a diverse mix of companies and organizations.

“I was assigned to worked at Siebert Brandford Shank,” Mi’Esha said. “While I was there I had plenty of tasks that were never the same ranging from filing, creating a meeting schedule and attending conference calls to revising documents and doing a lot of work on Excel.”

While the economic outlook of the city and region remains a concern, DSFI counters by preparing students to succeed, regardless of the challenges they may face.

“I was assigned to Comerica Bank Insurance Services and I performed tasks such as filing, copying and data entry,” said Kahliaha Henderson, a senior, who also attends King and Golightly. “Our biggest project was helping the insurance team convert an old system to a new one called Applied.

“What I enjoyed most about this program was the Fridays we spent together. We would have seminars or college trips and when we would meet up, I felt like we were a family.

“My future goals are to graduate high school and then hopefully attend the University of Kentucky or Tennessee State to major in pre-med or accounting.”

And when Kahliaha and the DSFI 2010 class accomplish their future goals, one of the many people who will be cheering for them is Linda Forte, senior vice president of Business Affairs for Comerica, a sponsor of the program.

“Comerica takes great pride in participating in this program which provides our young people with exposure — many for the first time — to the world of finance and the wide array of possible career choices in the field,” said Forte, a DSFI board member.

The exposure Forte speaks of is exactly what brought Ashley Smith to the DSFI program this year.

“I chose to participate in the Detroit Summer Finance Institute because I really enjoy the world of business and wanted to get a real feel of the business world,” said Ashley, who will be a junior at Henry Ford.

“I was assigned to work at the DPS Office of Accounting. There I was working in Accounts Receivable. I did bank reconciliations, filed papers and logged the schools expenditures into the system.”

For all of the students in the 2010 DSFI class, participation in the program stamps them as emerging leaders and role models for their peers and future generations.

“We had an amazing group of kids, so bright, articulate, respectful and fun,” said Julie Benyo, 2010 DSFI program coordinator. “Their employers adored them and vice versa. The experience of working as part of a team in a professional setting really made an impression on the students. Several of them commented that they feel more prepared and ready for adulthood as a result of their participation.

“Planning and attending our Friday field trips and information sessions was a highlight for me. The students and I met and learned from a diverse group of professionals in various fields of business and finance, each with a unique perspective to share. I think the kids came away from all of it with a broader view of life’s possibilities and new ways to think about them.”

To be considered as a DSFI summer intern, a student must be a Detroit resident entering the 11th or 12th grade at a Detroit public high school. A minimum 3.0 grade point average is required, along with extracurricular participation, two recommendations from school or community sources, and an essay on “Why I’d like to Participate in the Detroit Summer Finance Institute Program.” The final step is an interview.

For additional information please visit www.dsfi.org.

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