New service program chooses leadership team

Campus News, News

Four students have been chosen as the leadership team for a new program at Capital, called the Bonner Program, and a director for the program is being chosen this week.

The Bonner Program is a service-oriented program that aims to give underprivileged students the ability to do community service and be compensated. The program was started because there are many students who don’t have the opportunity to do community service due to their need to have a job during school, giving them little to no extra time to participate in service activities.

Kathryn Poe, Jack Spiller, Jalani Ben-Levi and Elli Wachtman are the current students chosen as the leadership team for the new program. These students were nominated by faculty or had the chance to self-nominate and submitted an application. Students who applied were interviewed before the four students were chosen.

The four chosen students will have a hand in creating the foundation for Capital’s Bonner Program, including having input on who is chosen as director of the program. The director will be a recent Bonner graduate or someone with a strong connection to the program, and will be chosen in the coming weeks. Once a director is chosen, the Bonner Leadership Team will work with them to flesh out the specifics of the program.

“With Bonner, the motto is ‘go, ready, set,’” Stephanie Wilson, assistant provost, said. “You just start going, and you kind of figure it out as you go along. I keep saying we’re building the airplane while we’re flying it.”

By next year, Wilson says a whole class of Bonner Leaders will be admitted, and each year 15 students will be chosen from the class of first-years. The process of applying to be a Bonner Leader has not yet been solidified, but it will go through the admissions office. Wilson said the process of choosing incoming students will be similar to the Collegiate and Capital Scholars competitions.

Students who are in the program will be required to do eight to 10 hours of community service per week, along with other Bonner-required activities. According to Wilson, they will receive compensation for their time, similar to a work-study.

“For me, volunteering has made my experiences more meaningful,” Poe said. “When you’re doing something purely for the benefit of others, something inside of you feels full again.”

The basic framework of the program includes milestones that students must complete each of the four years they are involved in the program, including an exchange with another Bonner school and service trips. The Bonner Leadership team will work with the director of the program to flesh out these parts of the program.

“Working with and helping others gives me a sense of purpose in life,” Wachtman said. “… I am beyond [excited] to extend myself further into the community with the Bonner Leadership Team!”

Wilson said she thinks the university and students outside of the program will benefit from its existence, and it may create extra opportunities for students to get involved with community service.

“[The Bonner Program] really has an impact beyond the relatively small group of students who are identified as Bonner leaders,” Wilson said. “So I’m really excited about that opportunity.”

President Paul has had a Bonner program at both of her previous universities and announced that Capital would have one during her inauguration week last April. The only other school that has a Bonner program in Ohio is Oberlin College.

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