The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Bonner Center for Community Learning and Service embodies core values

“Access to education; opportunity to serve.”

This is the motto of the Bonner Center for Community Learning and Service.

“We are a scholarship program,” said Elizabeth Baloff-Bird, Bonner Scholars coordinator. “We give students who are passionate about community service the opportunity to attend college when finances don’t allow them to do so.”

There are 60 Guilford students in the Bonner program. During the school year, each Bonner Scholar completes 280 hours of community service. The total outcome is 16,800 hours of community service per school year.

This accounts for 90 percent of the community service hours completed by the entire Guilford student body.

But the Bonner program is about more than just numbers. It’s about growth.

The community service performed by Bonner Scholars goes deep in an attempt to solve the problems in the community. What they call “Band-Aid service” is never enough for the students.

“I want to incorporate service into a regular thing in my whole life,” said first-year Bonner Scholar Ben Evans. “I love the feeling of making someone’s day better through my service.”

Personal growth also comes with the territory of being a Bonner Scholar. Every student experiences it differently.

“Bonner challenges me to see how far I can go,” said junior Bonner Scholar Mandy Lu. “It’s improved my vocational skills, which I didn’t think I had before entering (Bonner), and I want to keep improving those skills.”

These vocational skills are what make Bonner Scholars so successful. The retention rate of the program is 89 percent, higher than the retention rate of Guilford College as a whole. Those students, in most cases, walk away from graduation with a secured internship or job, as well as a new way of looking at life.

“Bonner has taught me a lot about the real world and how messed up the world is,” said senior Bonner Scholar Marielena Del Pozo. “I have learned that in order to make it in the world, I need to know the real issues and how they affect my community, myself and other communities.”

“People think we’re community service snobs, but we’re not,” said Bird. “We want the entire campus to get involved in the community.”

Efforts to get students involved continue to grow. Sports teams are more regularly participating in fundraising and serving charitable causes. Student organizations and clubs are doing the same.

Ultimately, Bonner wants to promote an involved campus and fight against apathy in the student body, while remaining true to Guilford’s values.

“Bonners live the core values of the college,” said James Shields, Bonner Center Director. “We’ve got 21 years of Bonner graduates out in the world doing the same.”

If Bonner were to deliver one message to the campus, it was summed up by Evans:

“Get involved.”

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