While summer provides an opportunity for vacations and being away from school, the season proved to be a good time for Concord University Bonner Scholars to assist campus and community through volunteer service.
A total of 27 Concord Bonner Scholars served in a variety of settings this summer. Among these many locations are Pipestem State Park, Pipestem, W.Va.; CU Upward Bound Program, Athens, W.Va.; Planet Extreme Teen Center, Princeton, W.Va.; Big Creek People in Action, War, W.Va.; McDowell Commission on Aging, Welch, W.Va.; Hinton Area Foundation, Hinton, W.Va.; City of Oceana Youth Programs, Oceana, W.Va.; and, Bluefield Community Center, Bluefield, W.Va.
Students selected to participate in the Bonner Scholars Program not only have opportunities for community service and leadership development, they also enjoy the benefits of financial aid that helps them pay for their education.
“The summer service component of our Bonner program is unique; there are few scholarships that provide aid or funding for students outside of the traditional academic year,” stated Kathy Ball, director of Concord’s Bonner Scholars Program.
“Serving in the summer months allows students to have an in-depth experience working with an agency while also earning funds for the next school year,” she said. “Often, we find these summer placements to be some of the most meaningful experiences for our students during their tenure as a Bonner scholar.”
Such is the case for Austin Taylor, a junior Biology major from Wharncliffe, W.Va. Austin interned with WV-INBRE (West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence).
“My summer placement was one that I will always remember because it was a time of learning and growth for me,” Austin said. “By doing research I was able to learn and accomplish so much. From being trained to work the dishwasher to learning how to split cells in media, there were many things I learned how to do.”
In 1991 the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., recognized Concord’s commitment to community outreach and endowed the University with funds to support a Bonner Scholars Program. The Foundation had launched the exciting initiative the previous year.
Each year, the Bonner Scholars Program provides up to 80 students with financial scholarships to support academic endeavors at Concord. The students then provide support to their communities through service work, in addition to participating in leadership and personal development activities. It is the goal of the program to develop experienced, knowledgeable and committed individuals who recognize the needs of society and each person’s responsibility to serve throughout his or her lifetime.
“Bonner Scholars are uniquely positioned to help in our communities right now,” states Robert (Bobby) Hackett, president of the Bonner Foundation.
“Over the 30 years of the program’s history in Athens, they have built up trusting relationships with local partners and demonstrated their genuine interest in serving,” he says. “In this process, they have developed their skills and abilities to make a real impact for individuals, programs, and communities.”
Peyton Brown, a 2020 Bonner alum, explains the impact the program has had upon her. Peyton is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree at Concord and is a graduate assistant working on campus in the Bonner House.
“Being a Bonner Scholar changed my life by giving me the ability to see the world from perspectives that aren’t just my own,” Peyton says. “I learned how to satisfy needs in my community and the world at large through listening, planning, and serving. Bonner taught me to be resilient in all that I do, and showed me to never give up on myself or others.
“The lasting, meaningful connections I formed with the amazing members of the campus community, Bonner Foundation, and other Bonner Scholars all give me hope for a better world. The Bonner Program is real-life proof that the desire to serve can be found in each of our hearts if we just dig deep enough,” she says.
To learn more about the Bonner Foundation and the Bonner Program, please visit https://www.bonner.org/the- bonner-program.
Additional information about Concord’s Bonner Scholars Program is available at https://www.concord.edu/ Financial-Aid/Scholarships/ Bonner-Scholars-Program.aspx or by contacting Kathy Ball at email@example.com or 304-384-6009.