2019-2020 Bonner Reflection

2019-2020 Bonner Reflection

April 16, 2020 Reflections from Changemakers 52

The 2019-2020 academic year is almost complete- and what a year it’s been!

  • How have you grown as a result of your engagement with Bonner?
  • What has been the biggest highlight personally?
  • What is your best service or Bonner memory?
  • How would you answer the question- What does Bonner mean to you?
  • Upload a picture related to Bonner/your service to share what you’re proud of, your favorite memory, what Bonner means to you, or anything else that you’d like to share from this year!

52 Responses

  1. Kylie Gilbride says:

    I can’t even begin to describe or convey the amount of growth I’ve experienced from this program. As a freshman, being told to “get comfortable with the uncomfortable” was definitely frustrating and confusing. I have to admit I didn’t fully grasp that advice. Throughout my bonner and college career, this advice had unknowingly become a mantra of mine. Being in a program as special as bonner has opened my eyes to things I’ve never been exposed to before, allowed me to think in ways I haven’t before, serve in places I haven’t before, and most importantly has allowed me to cross paths with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I feel so lucky to have been able to experience bonner and college with bonners both past and present; these are connections that we can’t ever let fade. At first when I was a freshman that didn’t know what I signed up for, I had no idea that this program would bring some of my very best friends into my life.
    It’s through this program that I really learned what connects my heart, head, and hustle. Combatting social injustices and the power of the law are what I’m passionate about. It is through serving at Castle Island that the educational component is also what I’m passionate about. Bonner is a way of thinking that I only discovered from being in this program; it is the most special team that I have ever been apart of. I thank bonner immensely for allowing me to have all these experiences, for challenging me, and for teaching me. Although saying that I am heartbroken that I will not be finishing my time at Siena on campus with my bonner family is an understatement, the bond we all share is unbreakable. Thank you all for being a part of my Siena experience; I feel so grateful to have crossed paths with each and every one of you. B-love always!!!

  2. Cody Romani says:

    Wow, freshman year and my first year as a Bonner zoomed by. It really has been a great year full of hard work and great service opportunities. I really did not know what to expect pertaining to Bonner. I have never served with a nonprofit organization. I have loved serving with Catholic Charities and helping out in the food pantry. I feel that I have grown a lot this year because of Bonner. I have gotten more comfortable speaking to others professionally and have learned many things about social justice issues and nonprofits. Bonner has allowed me to develop great relationships with others and to make new friends. Also, Bonner has helped me with my time management skills. My biggest highlight this year was definitely serving at my site. I loved meeting new people and helping the less fortunate. The people at the Roarke Center have treated me like family and I am blessed to be part of the organization. I have really embraced the message “be comfortable with the uncomfortable”. My favorite Bonner memory is when we went to the beach during Summer Gear Up. It was a great way of meeting other Bonners and just having a fun time together. Overall, Bonner means a lot to me. Bonner helps me feel grounded and I feel right at home when I am doing service and discussing social justice issues. I have always had the zeal to help others and make a difference in the world. Bonner helps me to grow in my faith through service and gives me a way to see the world through different lenses. I am so grateful for all Bonners and administration. I have felt welcomed from the beginning and excited to be part of such an inclusive community. I wish all the Bonner Seniors the best of luck as they continue their lives after Siena. It has been great to meet all of you and I thank you for being there for me. I am excited for the next three years! B-Love!

    • Jamie del Rosario says:

      The years only get quicker! And us seniors will be sure to stay connected, keep enjoying everything this program has to offer!

  3. Sarah Ahmed says:

    I cannot begin to explain how Bonner has helped me grow this year. One of my goals is to become more comfortable with public speaking and to be able to express my thoughts without being overcome with fear. Although I’m not fully there, I definitely have progressed in this area and I know for certain that I would not have come this far without the Bonner meetings and sessions pushing me. The biggest highlight personally was being able to learn more about various social justice issues, but especially locally. A significant amount of the information I learned this year especially about the Capital area I was unaware of despite living less than 30 minutes away. My best service memory this year was all the time spent serving at my site. Not only did my site help me grow in numerous ways, but seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces, getting to know them, and what the BGCCA is about was amazing. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d grow this much freshman year and expected my site to be like volunteering during high school, but that was certainly not the case. Bonner to me is about people who have a love for their community, love for the world coming together to learn and promote change. Bonner is more than just serving at a site, but developing knowledge about the world around you and fulfilling a passion for change. I don’t have the picture with me, but it’s at the Red, White, &, Chocolate!

    • Jamie del Rosario says:

      I absolutely HATED public speaking when I first got to Siena. I remember being mortified during my first Summer Gear Up when they made me report my group’s work over the microphone. It will continue to get easier with time, there’s plenty of opportunities to practice in a safe environment.

  4. Michael Averill says:

    Sophomore year proved to be an incredible year of growth for me personally. I feel that my second year as a Bonner at Siena has allowed me to mature both academically and professionally. Whether it was having my work in Dr. Kassel’s COMD 200 class published in a service-learning journal, or balancing two service sites during the spring semester, my sophomore year has given me invaluable experiences that I will not forget. There is no doubt that the end of this semester is a disappointing one, as the circumstances that forced our college to shut down left many of us without closure in our academic, professional, and social lives. It is important to reflect on the impactful moments of the past year during this time of isolation.

    My best service memory from this school year was the Dia de Los Muertos Fall Fiesta, which I helped run as a fundraiser for my service site, Castle Island Bilingual Montessori. With a year of experience, my supervisor trusted me to take the lead on the event and become a leader on our team. Through my outreach work at Castle Island I have gained valuable connections throughout the Capital Region and learned the importance of networking for nonprofit leaders.

    Another highlight of mine from this past year was starting to work at Mayan Hands, a fair trade nonprofit providing stable incomes for artisan women in Guatemala. I learned an incredible amount about the fair trade model and economic justice abroad. My research for the organization also extended into other concerns such as environmental impacts on migration. The women who operate Mayan Hands were very welcoming to me. I was even allowed to write a guest blog post for the organization that was published on their website. The work I am doing at Mayan Hands fits into my academic disciplines of International Relations and Spanish very well, and I look forward to continuing at this service site in the future.

    My sophomore year of Bonner provided me with the opportunity to speak my mind. As a freshman, I learned as much as I possibly could by simply listening to what others had to say. While I still emphasize the importance of listening to the perspectives of others, I also feel that I found my voice this year in Bonner. I have gained critical knowledge and experience through my classwork and service that has broadened my perspectives on issues of social justice and equity in our community. I challenged myself to offer my input on topics that I was knowledgeable on. This newfound growth for me was solidified when I was able to facilitate a town hall discussion on DACA. I used my extensive knowledge and research on the topic to explain its impact on our nation and answer the thoughtful questions that my fellow Bonners always provide. My sophomore year of Bonner instilled the confidence in me that I need going forward in a career of public service. I am incredibly grateful for being a part of the Bonner program, as it has provided me with more opportunities than I could have ever imagined and meaningful relationships that will last a lifetime.

    • Jamie del Rosario says:

      I’m so glad you found your voice this year. Continue to use it to fight for what you think is important and to guide the future classes of Bonner.

  5. Jamie del Rosario says:

    I am leaving the Bonner program as a much more confident and experiences person than when I came in. I have been given the opportunity here to step into leadership roles I could never have imagined and to participate in so many community events that allow me to engage with social justice issues face to face. The biggest highlight for me has been the Bonner family. There are so many people that I have gotten the chance to know during my four years as a Bonner that I know I would not have come into contact with otherwise, and this program bringing us together has truly been a blessing because I have gotten to learn so much from my peers here. My best service memory was getting to know a man named Jeremy at my first site, Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless. The relationship we had, not of server and servee, but as true equals learning from one another will always remind me of why I do this work.

    Bonner means honesty to me. I have always been able to be myself in this program, and to watch other people become themselves as well. The pure raw truth that comes with trainings like talking circles and privilege walks let us be vulnerable, and that is something that doesn’t happen everywhere in everyday life. It’s something that means Bonner to me because we are a group of individuals that are willing to there with each other.

  6. Jack McKenna says:

    As a student I have become more responsible and better with time management. I’ve also proven to myself that I can handle the workload, something I doubted in the beginning of the year. I’ve definitely grown as a person, emotionally and socially, especially when it comes to social justice and being able to see the big picture.
    My biggest highlight might be the talent show, I wasn’t super comfortable with everyone yet, so I just threw myself in the deep end of the pool and force myself to be comfortable in front of everyone.
    My favorite service memory was building the green houses at Capital Roots with the students. It was cold, wet, and rainy, I was there late and I couldn’t feel my fingers, but it was so much fun and I still don’t know why. In that moment I just didn’t care about how much homework I had, or how cold it was, or anything besides building that thing with the students, trying to distract them from how cold it was and keeping them in a positive headspace.
    Bonner means everything to me, without Bonner I probably would’ve transferred to a bigger school, or gotten lazy with my time management, and I never would have found my family away from home without Bonner.

    • Dana Wakeman says:

      I still remember your talent show performance, it was amazing! We are so lucky to have you as a part of our Bonner family!

  7. Abeer Jafri says:

    I think Bonner has allowed me to grow a lot as a person during my first year at Siena. Being a part of something so special gives a lot of meaning to your college experience, and without Bonner, I don’t think I would have felt as happy with my first year experience as I do. Being apart of Bonner proved to me that I can manage my time and have discipline while juggling many responsibilities. It teaches me patience, and to live in the moment while at service or at meetings, and to absorb what I am learning about fully. It also teaches me confidence, hence the “get comfortable with the uncomfortable” motto. It teaches me about positivity, and finding good in what may seem bad. It allows me to learn and contribute knowledge about social justice issues, something I am passionate about but do not get to learn about in my coursework. Going off of this, my biggest highlight was probably Summer Gear Up. Being an introvert who takes a long time to warm up to new people, I remember being scared the first day of Gear Up, unsure of what to expect. However, I was met with some of the kindest, most welcoming people I am lucky to now know. It was so fun getting to know everyone during Gear Up, and getting to take part in incredible trainings that have stayed with me to this day. My favorite memory from service was probably the Holiday Store at Unity House, where Mara and I served over winter break. Being able to help people during the holidays and seeing everyone so cheerful and thankful made me grateful to be a part of something that can bring smiles to everyone’s faces. To me, Bonner means recognizing the injustices in this world, and having the passion and grit to help tackle them, alongside a family that shares similar passions. I can’t believe the first year is almost over, but I’m excited for what the next 3 years hold!

    • Dana Wakeman says:

      Bonner definitely defines our college experiences, and we are so lucky! And, it has been great to watch you grow throughout the year!

  8. Liliana Sanchez Adames says:

    When I think of the person I was in high school and compare it to the person I am today, I can say that I have grown tremendously. Even though I am a minority, I was not aware of the problems in my community let along the world in general. I didn’t even know what social justice was and why was it so important because they didn’t teach me any of that stuff in high school nor did I see social injustice growing up in the Dominican Republic or maybe I did, but was ignorant to it all. As I began my college career as a Bonner, I learned about social injustice, poverty, privilege, social barriers, discrimination… I guess I have grown mentally and I am very thankful to Bonner for this.

    Personally, I think the biggest highlight has been helping with the organization of Bonner Congress 2017. It was just so empowering and surreal how so many people from around the country came together, the insightful conversations I got to have with other people my age that just cared in general. Walking in a room full of Bonners from all over with the same passion, drive and enthusiasm as me is something I will never forget.

    Gosh! There are too many service memories. From joking around with the BGCA staff to developing personal relationships and friendships with them to the point that I now consider a few of them my mentors and personal support system. The kids making your day with a silly joke or just a smile without them even knowing. I remember feeling down one day because I got a bad score on my Chem exam and the last thing I wanted to do was to go to service, but I went anyways. I got there and people could tell I was having a bad day and one of the kids asked me what was wrong. I said I got a bad grade and the kid said said nothing and just gave me a hug and then said “it’s okay Miss Lili. I think your teacher made a mistake because you’re really smart and you help with my homework.” I wanted to take that kid home with me that day haha, but it definitely made my day. Those type of moments make you appreciate the little things.

    Bonner means family, a comfortable home that would sometimes get on your very last nerve to the point to make you uncomfortable but only to make you greater, better and stronger.

    • Andraya Perez says:

      I will always be grateful for our BGCA family. I will miss you, the kids, and the staff so much next year! I am thankful I got to serve at BGCA for 4 years with you!

  9. Aedan says:

    This is weird that it’s my last blog. Of course I have grown as a result of being a Bonner, it was literally the first thing I knew at Siena. Over these four years, but even in this last year, my horizons have expanded wider, in terms of my understanding of social justice and the world around us in general, more than I ever would have expected. Bonner has exposed me to the world outside of Siena in a way that never would have happened otherwise. The real life experience in community engagement gained from this program is irreplaceable.

    My biggest highlight this year has been being able to see all of the service that I have completed in the past four years come together in a project that I can tangibly see the success and results of. Being able to work on a business plan for a market that is actually beginning to launch is so rewarding.

    My best service memory has to be a service day my freshmen year. I think that it was so distinct to me because of the fun that we were having serving that day and being able to see the work that we completed at the end of the day.

    Bonner to me means being comfortable with the uncomfortable.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      You’ve accomplished so much and I’m so happy that Bonner has given you such a great experience! We’re going to miss you next year! I LOVE your answer to what Bonner means to you… it’s one of my favorite sayings

  10. Alexis D'Aloia says:

    Bonner has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. I have strengthened my professional communication skills through working with different community partners, ACE admin, and peers in the program. I have learned how to work better on a team and collaborate with others to learn and grow. I’ve definitely learned how to better advocate for myself as well! The biggest highlight from this year was probably becoming a PA and getting to work more closely with the Bonner program. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the ACE staff better as well as enjoyed working on administrative-type tasks with the other PAs. I think it’s really helped me to grasp more of what Bonner is all about. My best Bonner memory up to this point is going to West Virginia with my class and some others! I got to know my class better and had an awesome time learning about Appalachia. To me, Bonner means a place that has provided me with opportunities to explore my passions and has given me a group of people that I’m lucky enough to call family!

  11. Abigail Hoekman says:

    Bonner has helped me to grow in my leadership skills and my communication skills immensely this year. Becoming a site team leader has helped me learn to delegate tasks, mentor others by applying my past experiences, and communicating and advocating for myself and the site team. The biggest highlight of Bonner this year has been the ability to apply my experiences of Bonner to other opportunities such as my abroad service experience to Costa Rica. I truly don’t think I would have been able to thrive in this service setting had it not been for Bonner teaching me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and I am extremely grateful for that. My best service memory this year has also been my abroad service experience to Costa Rica where I partnered with the organizations Cru and FIlter of Hope to install water filters in the homes of locals in an impoverished community. We were able to install 56 filters during the week and built incredible relationships while also learning a lot about the culture. This experience was truly unforgettable and I am so grateful for all of the ways Bonner had prepared me for this form of immersive service. Bonner for me means a community of people dedicated to serving the needs of the community they reside in. Bonner exudes love and compassion while also challenging the policies and ways of life that exist around them.

    • Dana Wakeman says:

      You have become such a great mentor to Mara and Abeer! And, I love that you were able to bring your Bonner knowledge into your Costa Rica trip, it exemplifies the saying “what is said here, stays here and what is learned here, leaves here”.

  12. Samantha Gisleson says:

    I have grown in so many ways throughout my time as a Bonner. I have certainly made peace with my ultimate enemy (public speaking). I have learned that change will not happen if you don’t take action. I have grown as an individual; I’ve learned a lot about myself and my place in this world. I will be the first to say that I have had a love-hate (although hate is a very strong word) relationship with this program. It has certainly pushed me to my limits, but I am so grateful for it. I would not be the person I am today without this program and I look forward to being a mentor for the Bonners to come so that I can pass off what I have learned to them!

    The biggest highlight for me has been starting at Castle Island. Throughout my time as a Bonner I have jumped between different service sites, and I finally feel that I found my “home” at Castle Island. Although I enjoyed my time at my other sites, I feel that I have the most to offer at Castle Island. I have already grown immensely in my short time there and am looking forward to the next two years there!

    My best Bonner memory is being a member of the SGU committee this past August. I loved being able to develop relationships with the freshman, but I was also able to form closer relationships with upperclassmen Bonners. I was able to take on a leadership role while also getting to spend time with my friends, it was definitely an extremely rewarding experience.

    Bonner to me means learning who you are and how you can make the world a better place.

    • Andraya Perez says:

      I enjoyed this year’s SGU as well! I got to spend more time with you and the rest of the squad. I will never forget Meet the Robinsons night. One of my favorite memories of this year haha!

  13. Nia Colon says:

    I have grown quite a bit through my Bonner experience. I have been put in various situations that have made me uncomfortable, but in the end, it has helped me grow. I can see that over the past two years Bonner has brought me to be much more mature and able to manage my work. My biggest highlight has been the Boys and Girls Club! I loved working with the kids and helping them out with their homework. My best Bonner/service memory was when I was in the hospital and making a great plan of care for someone who did not have the financial means to go to a rehab center. To me, Bonner means to help those who need it most. It means learning about others and being able to use that knowledge to further help other people.

    • Dana Wakeman says:

      Bonner is absolutely about gaining knowledge and helping people, and you are doing amazing service at the hospital! Keep up the great work!

  14. Marlie says:

    Unreal. I can’t begin to explain how much I have grown in the last three years with Bonner. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities I have been given to challenge my beliefs and advocate for the social justice topics I am passionate about. I have become so much more comfortable with advocating for myself and others. My eyes have been opened to concepts I had never heard of or considered. I think my biggest highlight personally was starting the partnership with Whitney Young and being the first Bonner placed there. There were obviously challenges associated with being the only Bonner there, but I was able to work hard and communicate well with others to achieve our goals. I would have to say my favorite Bonner memory was Summer Gear Up this past summer. I loved and appreciated all of my interactions with the freshman and enjoyed being able to support them in a new part of their life. The upperclassmen my freshman year were pivotal in making me comfortable at Siena and with Bonner.

    On another note…what does Bonner mean to me? Well, it is a community of individuals being comfortable with the uncomfortable and supporting each other through that journey. It is a chance to be unapologetically be yourself, have your voice heard, and have your ideas challenged and supported.

    B-love to you all!

    • Andraya Perez says:

      I love to hear that you feel more comfortable advocating for yourself and others! Your voice is so important!

  15. Dana Wakeman says:

    These past three years have changed me personally and professionally as I have been able to challenge myself and become comfortable with the uncomfortable. One of my biggest highlights was serving as a Summer Gear Up Coordinator with Amelia, Kate, and Kathryn. This experience was incredibly challenging, exhilarating, and completely worth it. We were able to create trainings that encouraged our peers to learn about social justice issues such as the inequality in the criminal justice system and plan social events such as the scavenger hunt to allow our fellow Bonners to learn more about our campus and our community partners. It was a great experience to see all of the hard work we had put into planning, organizing, and facilitating be appreciated by our peers. For service, my best memories come from speaking with the other people at my site whether that be the amazing team at Catholic Charities or the PA team and ACE staff at the More House. All of these experiences have taught me that Bonner is about a group of people coming together to create change in the world, and I am looking forward to continuing to make change in our communities.

  16. Andraya Perez says:

    It is weird to think this is my last blog post. I have grown so much throughout my four years at Siena and I have Bonner to thank for that. I was a hot mess coming into this program (still am), but Bonner pushed me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. I have grown professionally, academically, and socially through this program. Whether it be doing creating a syllabus for an applied theatre community engage class for my capstone, participating in networking events with partners, or meeting life long friends I will always be thankful for this program.

    My biggest highlight for me this year was attending the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). At KCACT, I ran a workshop with my advisor, Krysta Dennis, about the research I have been doing on Theatre of the Oppressed all year. It was a really exciting moment for me. I got to participate in other workshops during the conference and really enjoyed my experience at KCACTF overall. Also just working with Krysta Dennis this year is a highlight in of itself.

    My favorite Bonner memory has been attending the BGCA’s annual Red White and Chocolate Gala (now know as the Futures Gala). I have been volunteering at this event for all four of my years at Siena, and the last two years I got to manage the volunteers for the Gala. It has always been a fun year to celebrate the BGCA’s mission and everyone who works there. I am going to miss going to the Gala in November.

    Bonner means B-love! I have found a great support system through this program and my best friends. Bonner will always mean b-love to me.

  17. Nancy Rasmussen says:

    It’s crazy to think that I am already done with half of my years in the Bonner program! I remember the first night of freshmen year SGU like it was yesterday. We were all sitting around the firepit outside Casey’s playing a game. I was too shy to participate in the beginning. However, as the night went on I found the courage to join. This night, as corny and sappy as it sounds, was the foundation of what Bonner means to me. Over these past two years, I’ve started to find my voice. I learned to leave the shy person I once was and replace her with a semi-confident, growing person. Although confidence is still something I’m working on, Bonner truly gave me the skills and, most importantly, the environment to feel comfortable to grow.

    My biggest highlight was definitely receiving my position as the Troy Prep Writing Center Coordinator. This position has taught me leadership skills that I will carry forever. It gave me a platform to express my ideas and gave me the opportunity to do something I love every single week!

    My best Bonner memory has to be the scavenger hunt around the Capital Region during my freshmen year SGU. It helped me form new friendships and was just a fun, memorable night in general.

    This next question is hard to answer. I think answering this question in a few sentences is impossible, as I’m sure it is for many. To keep it short, Bonner is acquiring leadership skills, forming life long friendships, and remembering to be a croissant instead of a donut.

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      Your first SGU is always something to remember and I’m glad you have such great memories of it! So proud of your position at Troy Prep, you’re doing amazing things! Keep being awesome!

  18. Samantha Lunt says:

    Wow! It doesn’t even seem real to me that my first year of Bonner is complete. I have definitely grown a lot this year, when I came in I was nervous and anxious not knowing how everything was going to go. I have definitely gained more confidence in my abilities and have learned to step outside of my comfort zone more. I know none of this would have been possible without the help and support of everyone. My biggest highlight of this year has just been able to grow at my site and learn new things everytime I’m there. My favorite Bonner memory has to come from SGU when we did the scavenger hunt, it was the first time I really felt what bonner was and how it was a family and really understood everything that was behind Bonner. What Bonner means to me is it is a place to be able to learn in grow in a safe and uplifting environment, it is a group of people who all want to see each other succeed and it is B-love!

    • Alexis D'Aloia says:

      So proud of everything you’ve done this year! It’s been awesome to watch you learn and grow!! I can’t wait to see what you accomplish next year!

  19. Erin Spence says:

    Being accepted as a member of the Bonner program has honestly been one of the most life changing parts of my time at Siena. During the first semester of freshmen year, I remember feeling a little lost, unsure of why I had chosen Siena and what I hoped to gain from my four years. For so many reasons, it has become very clear that I made the right choice, and that is because of Bonner. I never could have imagined the kinds of experiences and opportunities I’d have through this program just in my first two years. This year alone, I feel that I have grown both personally and professionally. I have grown in my ability to advocate for myself, which is something that has always been a challenge for me. Also, with each training and reflection we have done, I have not only learned things about myself, but about major issues that are facing our world today and the power we have as agents of change. This program has also provided me with so many amazing opportunities to take on new leadership roles. I am so grateful for each of these opportunities, and I know they will serve me well far beyond my college years. I am also incredibly grateful for the amazing people that I have met through this program, which has definitely been a highlight for me so far. The B-Love and support that everyone shows is unlike any other. My favorite Bonner memory so far was probably participating in my first SGU this past summer. I love that time we have on campus before classes start to connect with the freshmen and reconnect with others who we haven’t seen in a while. So many great memories from that week! To me, Bonner means community. There are so many different ways that this is true, whether is be through the Bonner community, the Siena community, or the connections to the outside community that the program creates. Bonner is all about connection, challenging your own beliefs, and learning from others to make the world a better place.

    • Michael Averill says:

      I’m so glad you joined Bonner Erin. Our class faced a lot of adversity in its first year, but recruiting dedicated people like you after the first semester helped to stabilize our class and the entire program. I’m excited to watch you move into a leadership position in the coming years!

  20. Hayley Pij says:

    Every day I am reminded of how grateful I am to be part of this program, a network of changemakers. Through Bonner and my four years at Siena, I have grown in my ability to advocate for myself and others, to engage with communities in meaningful partnership, and know what it means to make an impact, while simultaneously be impacted. Some of my fondest memories in this program have been in our Wednesday night meetings, service days, and the many trips I have been able to go on. One of my biggest highlights was my first Summer Leadership Institute at Wagner College! This passion for engaging with the Bonner network carried on to my 5th Bonner conference at Centre College this past fall. Knowing the work that we do in the capital region and being able to share that with students from across the country gave new meaning to the work I was doing.

    I am also so incredibly grateful to have made connections between my Social Work major and my Bonner placement in my senior year. With this academic insight, I am now confident that I will thrive at NYU this fall. At TRIP, I was able to launch a focus group for Resident Services and find new ways to engage with residents. In addition, I developed a Difficult Conversations training combining knowledge from my social work courses and Bonner insight in creating a trainer guide.

    Bonner for me is a network of passionate individuals dedicated to social justice and I am so grateful to have you all as lifelong friends. Do not hesitate to reach out during these times, I miss everyone so much.

  21. Kayla Sweet says:

    Wow this has to be the hardest blog I’ve had to write. My entire life has changed because of Bonner in every way. I’ve been challenged, loved and supported like I’ve never experienced in life. The biggest highlight personally was when I was able to help lead SGU and WV. Leadership roles in the program I love so much were great experiences for me to challenge myself but still feel safe in a community. My best service memory was and will always be when the students at RISSE were cleaning together and giggling. The joy was pure and the giggles, innocent. It was the best example of tolerance and respect I’ve seen- an example of humans being human. I also love the impromptu hangouts with Bonners, dancing, dinners in saga and even the weekly meetings.

    Bonner means everything to me. It’s a chance to have your questions and passions validated and supported. It is the place where your age doesn’t mean negate the power that lies within you. Bonner was a family when my family wasn’t there. These are people who were all meant to be in my life and to serve a purpose.

    I want to thank everyone for the best 4 years of my life. I am bounds away from the person I was and Bonner played a large role in that. I always say how funny it is that I heard about my acceptance to Bonner before my acceptance to Siena looking back it makes sense. Bonner was my home within a home. Siena is home but Bonner is my heart.

    Love you forever,

    Kayla Sweet

  22. Grace Harris says:

    Not going to lie I am tearing up writing this post a little. I cannot believe my time in this amazing program has come to an end. People always say these 4 years go by fast but I am still surprised just how quickly it had come. Being in Bonner modeled me into the person I am today and I cannot say thank you enough to everyone involved and everyone who has helped me along the way. I have met my best friends in this program and have been challenged in ways I could never imagine. Bonner is one of those things that made my experiences at Siena so meaningful. To be honest I never thought I would get through this program. I struggled a lot and wanted to give up many many times but I had incredible people to guide me and I want to say thank you.
    One of the less emotional things I also want to thank Bonner for is helping me develop my professional skills. I now know how to send pretty good email.
    Bonner also taught me my love of social justice and what gets the fire in my belly going. I came into Bonner as someone who loved to volunteer and help others. I am leaving Bonner as someone who has a greater understanding of issues that affect communities on a micro and macro level and as someone who has a plan to try and change these systems. Bonner has given me the gift of education and what I have learned I will never forget. I will continue to apply this knowledge not only in my future work in social work but in my everyday. I will always be grateful for the educational experience Bonner gave me.
    Bonner to me is something that is almost indescribable, everyone gets something a little different out of it. How lucky are we to get such a multifaceted program and every year it changed as we get new passioante leaders.
    I just want to say thank you to everyone in this program, past and present I would not be who I am without you.
    B-love,
    Grace

  23. Stephanie Da Fonseca says:

    One of the many important things Bonner has taught me is how to grow in the right direction. In the real world, professionalism is such a big attribute and skill to have, and when you are in high school it is not something you are necessarily taught. My biggest highlight personally are all the things Bonner has enlightened me on, so many issues that are not visible in the mainstream media, or social justice issues and many ways to go about them.
    My best Bonner memory is definitely Summer Gear Up, it is hard to adjust to your freshmen year at a totally new environment, but Bonner made me open up to new things and people. Scavenger hunts, early mornings, trip to the lake, bright sun and exhaustion at the end of the day, are all things I will forever keep with me. Bonner does mean a lot to me because just in one year I got to see how much I can grow, we always think we are so knowledgeable and grown up, and Bonner shows me everyday how little I actually know, and that isn’t a bad thing, it means there is so much room to learn amazing things along the way.

  24. Mara Golden says:

    I can’t believe this year is already over! I have grown so much over the year and could not be more grateful to be a part of Bonner. Over the year I have found the courage to try new things and push myself out of my comfort zone. I think my biggest personal goal was finding the confidence to write grants for Unity House and putting together the Spring Pop Up Shop. I don’t think I have one specific service or Bonner memory that is my favorite. Each memory is special in its own way. Whether it was making new connections, catching up with friends, or learning from each other, I consider them all quite special. Bonner means a lot to me but if I had to choose one thing it would be family. Everyone within Bonner is so supportive of each other and that is one of the main things I love. I know I always have people to turn to and ask help from if I ever need it. It’s sad to say that some of our family won’t be back in the fall but you guys have worked so hard for this moment. You have shown many of us how important it is to work hard, stay dedicated to our work (both at school and service), and to stay true to ourselves. You are all amazing and will be greatly missed next year!

  25. Tristan Hunzinger says:

    I would say that my engagement with Bonner has helped me grow professionally as well as socially. I have learned things through first-hand experience that I will be able to take with me into whatever profession or career-path I choose thanks to the program. I have also made a great group of friends and have become part of a very special network. My biggest highlight has probably been our class trip to West Virginia. It was super insightful and a great experience, and it helped me bond with my classmates more. My favorite memory is probably Summer gear up this past year. It was great working on the set-up committee. To me, Bonner has helped enhance my experience at Siena by allowing me to have opportunities and experiences that I would not have otherwise had. B-Love!

  26. Tori Mangelli says:

    I think being a part of Bonner has made me grow a lot, personally and professionally. It provided me with such a solid support system which meant a lot coming in as a Freshman and already knowing people. I would say I definitely felt more comfortable at Siena because of this group and grown because of my forever friends I made here so far. Also, I’ve learned how to time manage better and learned more leadership qualities. My biggest highlight has to be finding such an amazing group of people (except Maura) and being placed at a site I love. My favorite memory is the GOTR 5K in the Fall. Bonner, to me, is coming together with like-minded people and trying to give back to a community that has given us so much. Although it can get overwhelming at times, I really love the service we do and the differences we are able to make, no matter how big or small they are.

  27. Marykate Del Gais says:

    During my first year as a Bonner, I feel like I have grown both personally and professionally. I was exposed to many different things that will help me in my future college endeavours. My biggest highlight personally has been creating bonds with all of my fellow Bonners (shoutout Maura…Tori you know you don’t mean that). They all have made an impact on me in different ways and I truly found some of my best friends in this program. My best service memory is one of our service days. I went to capital roots and did a lot of tough work to help the organization. The work was unexpected, but it was fun to spend the day with my friends, while helping others. Bonner, to me, is working to create change with people who share the same interests. Being able to give back to the community with my best friends has brought such happiness to my life! Although Bonner can get very overwhelming, it is comforting to know that I have such an amazing support system both on and off campus!

  28. Ecli Vazquez says:

    When thinking about the Bonner Program at Siena I could say we are a big family willing to help each other. I joined Bonner for two reasons. I loved doing service and helping a community that can relate to myself. The second reason is that I wanted a place to belong and have somewhere I can go to be heard. Throughout the years Bonner has helped me become more talkative and open up to different people.

    At my service site at Sunnyside, I love the atmosphere that is projected. The staff and the kids that attend the program make so unique that anyone can gravitate to it. My favorite part of service was help set up for Thanksgiving. As well having dinner with all the families. That moment showed me that was serving at place that is special.

    Bonner for me is a big family that is ready to make a change in the world.

  29. Taylor says:

    Joining Bonner has helped me grow within the past year. Bonner has taught me to become more vocal and confident. My biggest highlight personally was being given more responsibility at my site. My best Bonner memories are from academic support. To me, Bonner means being part of a family that works together to help people, very similar to the Powerpuff Girls.

  30. Chandler Edbauer says:

    Because of my growth in Bonner I have felt more confident about my voice. I have grown to understand my own prejudice and privilege. My biggest highlight personally has been connecting with people through the Bonner program. Networking with people who help others is important and I felt more connected to the community. My best service memory is when I was able to work unsupervised like a real job. I was able to do my work without someone constantly watching over me and I felt better about my service. Bonner is a community, a network of people for the betterment of society.
    My favorite memory is when we did Service all together for the first time. It was awesome to explore another site and work with people whom I don’t normally work with.

  31. Kiara Woodward says:

    This year in Bonner I have had to advocate for myself more than ever. This experience put me to the test as it is something we all preach as Bonner’s. I will say that it is definitely easier said than done and sometimes results in difficult conversations but has resulted in me feeling more comfortable and fulfilled in my work. My biggest personal highlight that has come as a result of Bonner is stepping outside of my comfort zone. We always say to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and I have taken steps within Bonner to do so and Bonner has given me the skills and confidence to this in other areas of my life. I can not think of one specific memory but when I think of my best Bonner moments they all involve being together as a big group and enjoying each other’s company. Whether we are at a day of service or having an interactive meeting I am always happy to be surrounded by my Bonner family.

    Missing you all lots and with tons of B-love <3,
    Kiara

  32. Maura Lynch says:

    I can’t begin to explain how much Bonner as impacted my freshman year at Siena. The upperclassmen immediately welcomed us freshmen during SGU, and I met my best friends for life- Marykate, Steph, and JPJ. (We’re waiting for that Tori girl to leave us alone.)
    My biggest highlight this year was Rocktober Fest. It felt so rewarding to show the rest of the Bonners the work I had been doing at CMA for the year.
    My best Bonner memory was during SGU when the freshmen would hang out in the Ryan Lounge. I made my absolute best friends that week and I’m so grateful for tit.
    To me, Bonner means family. Since I arrived at Siena, Bonner has been my home away from me and the people in it mean the world to me.
    Huge thank you to all of you for a wonderful year and I CANNOT wait to annoy you all in the fall again!!!

  33. Kate says:

    This has been a crazy year, but also one filled with growth. I returned to Bonner and the wonderful world of ACE in July when I came back to plan for Summer Gear Up. I think that having those two months in the summer really showed me the behind the scene of ACE and all the work that goes into trainings, events, and activities. I really enjoyed it especially because of the amazing group of people I got to work with. The experience also prepared me to work within the ACE office as a PA during the semester. PA was a position I think I was always interested in being part of and I was glad to step into this leadership role. I think this role and becoming upperclassmen pushed me to become more responsible as well as the ownership I must take for my actions. This has been a hard lesson to learn but one that I do believe is very valuable. I think a highlight of my this program has continued to be the B-Love that is always present. It is also something I am incredibly grateful for. My favorite service memory was our first service day. It was my first service day that I planned and had originally viewed it with a lot of stress. But the actual event reminded me of the value of serving together and how much fun it can be! To me, Bonner can be represented by these questions that have been asked. It is about growth, service, and love. I think that the program asks of us different things but it all pushes us to become individuals who are caring and knowledgable about the world around them. Bonner will always mean family to me but as I’ve grown within the program it is also taking on a meaning of change.

  34. Sydney Maughan says:

    I have grown in so many ways from Bonner, I have especially become much more professional and learned how to present myself in an academic and professional atmosphere. Bonner has also helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin, I am not afraid to be myself or have my opinions heard which is something I struggled with back in high school.
    The Bonner family is what has been the biggest highlight for me, all Bonners are so supporting and I consider everyone to be a friend of mine. Going to college has been and leaving home has been a bit difficult but having everyone at Bonner to be there for me and support me has made so appreciative for everyone in the program.
    My best service memory has to be when Lulama and I were serving together at TRIP and all of the laughs and memories we’ve had. I cant think of one specifically right now, but there
    Words can’t describe what Bonner means to me and honestly during Bonner meetings or events I don’t usually have my phone out so I don’t have many of my favorite moments captured in picture. Honestly, memories I made with the Bonners from my grade this past summer in West Virginia have to be some of my favorite memories. We grew as a class and became much closer as friends, although a challenging experience we all pushed through together. The I have from Bonner will always be with me and I’m very thankful for that.

  35. Pierre Dalce says:

    Year two is complete and what an adventure it has been. This program has become part of the reason that I am the way that I am. I have learned valuable skills such as time management, advanced communication skills, and teamwork. Although I am not nearly perfect in any of these areas I am proud of the progress and major strides that got me to reach this point and level that I currently am. Skills that I learned here in Bonner also have translated and become an integral part of my professional and work career. My favorite Bonner memory is when my team and I were shooting the Bonner work site video and just being with them not only accomplishing a goal together but also messing up and failing together and enjoying ourselves because that’s all we could do was live in the moment enjoying each other’s presence all while helping our community and our sites. For me that’s what I think when I think of Bonner. A group of committed people, who are determined to doing what’s right, who are determined for social justice and social change. A group of people who are here for one another and deeply care about each other.

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