Summer Youth Program: A cherished tradition at the Los Angeles refinery

Business News

Los Angeles, California, Foundation
  • About 30 students from nine schools participated in this year’s Summer Youth Program at Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles refinery.
  • As part of their internship, students learn the inner workings of the refinery, participate in team-building activities, and participate in one community-based service project.
  • The program has been introducing local high school students to STEM-related careers for more than three decades, including one former student who is now fulfilling her dream of working as an engineer at the refinery.

Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles refinery (LAR) hosted 27 students between the ages of 17 and 19 from nine local schools in its annual Summer Youth Program, which provides students unique access to the inner workings of the refinery and exposes them to STEM-related careers.

As part of the summer internship, students participate in a team-building exercise that includes a tour of the port of Los Angeles aboard a sailboat from the Los Angeles Maritime Institute. They also complete at least one community-based service project. This year, in coordination with ShareFest, a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower underserved youth, students chose to beautify the grounds of an elementary school in Long Beach, California.

“The combined efforts from everyone involved in making this project come to life are so appreciated,” said Thomas Espinoza, Principal at Elizabeth Hudson Elementary School. “This is not just an investment in our school and our kids, but the greater community we all proudly serve.”

“The year I graduated college, I became a U.S. citizen and was hired on at the refinery. That was when I knew I had achieved my American Dream.”

From learning important life skills to making a positive impact on their community, the popular program has been helping to shape the lives of young people for more than three decades.

“This has been such a labor of love for the LAR team,” said Luisa Wiggins, a refining engineer and former Summer Youth student, who now helps coordinate the program at the refinery. “It’s a great tradition we look forward to each and every year.”

For Wiggins, the tradition started in 1999 when she was in the program as a high school senior.

“I knew even then this [Los Angeles refinery] is where I wanted to be.”

She said having that goal in mind helped pave the next few years of her life, leading up to her college graduation.

“The year I graduated college, I became a U.S. citizen and was hired on at the refinery. That was when I knew I had achieved my American Dream.”

That’s also why she is such a big advocate for the longtime program, hoping to inspire others to follow in her footsteps.

“It’s a truly rewarding experience for all involved,” said Wiggins.