Averett University adds nationally recognized Bonner Leader Program

Posted on April 24th, 2017 by Danielle Staub

Averett students will soon be joining the national ranks with a new Bonner Leader Program next fall. Connected to the national program under the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation, Averett University is cultivating its own Bonner Leader Program. The current peer mentor role in the Averett 101 curriculum will be upgraded into a four-year service and leadership scholarship opportunity.

In January of 2017, Averett started recruiting freshmen and sophomores to become Bonner Leaders, to enter an engaging, community-based curriculum in which they will gain the tools to build community relationships and effectively meet regional needs. These students will galvanize the Averett student body, especially first-year students in Averett 101, as we continue to develop a culture of service here at Averett.

“The Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC) has built the community network for Averett University. Now, the Bonner Leaders will lead the charge to mobilize students, bolster relationships with community partners, and magnify Averett’s culture of serving and leading as catalysts for positive change,” said Brigid Belko, director of experiential learning at the CCECC.

Bonner Leaders are campus-wide catalysts for change. Evidence demonstrates that having a Bonner Leader Program positively impacts four main areas in a university: admissions recruitment, employee engagement, the connection between teaching and learning, and educational practices.

The program works to create change by developing and engaging students’ knowledge, skills, values and collective action. While developing and integrating community engagement learning through courses and programs, it builds a campus that leads effort to make place-based community engagement deep, pervasive, integrated and developmental. It is constructing a greater community of practice with shared goals.

“As soon as they set foot on campus, Bonner Leaders will connect with local community organizations and commit to serving and building that organization’s capacity for 100 hours each semester for the next four years. This coming fall, 27 Bonner Leaders will engage in this way. In two more years, 50+ Bonner Leaders will,” Belko said.

When a Bonner Leader Program is in place, it transforms communities in the following four major ways: mobilizes students, faculty, staff and community members to support individuals and places; trains and supports leaders who develop and manage evidence-based programs and projects; partners in capacity-building for organizations to improve effectiveness, efficiency, and resources; and lastly, partners in capacity-building for collaborative working to achieve measurable and systemic change.

“I’ve found that I am a person of consultation among my peers. Being in this program will allow me to pursue my aspirations along with helping me grow as a leader. I am very excited for its exclusive opportunities,” said Jessica Norcott, rising sophomore at Averett.

“I want to be a Bonner Leader, so I can give back to the community that gives so much to me. There are many needs. Offering my time and effort is the least I can do to improve the community,” said Jacquelyn Dodd, rising sophomore at Averett.

When our students graduate as a Bonner Leader they will be introduced into a network with more than 100,000 graduates across the world.