On the basement floor of the South Side on Lamar building is SPARK!, an artist playground where kids use their imagination to create a new world without limitations.
“[SPARK!] is here to show kids that everyone can be creative in their own way,” said Angelique Gonzalez, junior at Uplift Luna.
Gonzalez is spending her summer interning at SPARK!, which provides kids from second grade to high school an opportunity to explore their creativity. The 16 year-old learned about the internship through her Road To College counselor, Ms. Morales who encouraged scholars to apply for the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program.
Gonzalez, along with some of her peers, attended the job fair where various organizations looked to hire high school students for a paid summer internship. SPARK! is just one of several organizations to partner with the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program.
“I did my interviews with a number of people including SPARK! and about a month later I received my first offer,” said Gonzalez.
The 16 year-old made a lasting impression on SPARK!. She had a portfolio ready to go with her artwork; something other interviewees had not done.
“This is my dream job,” said Gonzalez who hopes to return to Uplift as an art teacher. “After high school I want to go to the Art Institute downtown and then after that I want to go back to Uplift to become a high school art teacher.”
For the rising junior, art is not just how she expresses herself but it is a way of seeing life.
“I like the fact that I can sit down and just with a piece of paper, I can put something that I have envisioned in my mind on paper and it just becomes realistic. It helps me see my creative process, how it started and how I’ve grown as an artist,” said Gonzalez.
The junior’s vision of art made her a perfect fit at SPARK!. The organization focuses on nurturing students creativity. In the Butterfly room, which also serves as the classroom for art projects, butterfly cut outs made from aluminium cans align the columns. In the next room the Climb, Crawl, Slide Structure is made entirely from recycled material.
“I get to come to work everyday, and I get to do what I love,” said Gonzalez.
During her summer internship, Gonzalez has developed lesson plans for her students and encouraged them to express themselves through the various mediums SPARK! offers.
Gonzalez said she is very grateful of the ongoing support of her mentors at Uplift Luna like Ms. Morales and her art teacher Mr. Garcia.
Both teachers coached her for her interview teaching her a proper handshake, updating her resume and proper interview etiquette.
“I’m usually a really shy person,” said Gonzalez.
The internship has allowed the teen to break out of her shell but also given her an opportunity to make career connections.
“Since working here my network has grown a lot,” said Gonzalez, “I think especially after this, [SPARK!] knows if I ever need another job or letter of recommendation I can come back here.”