Service/Capstone Update #1 – Spring ’23

Service/Capstone Update #1 – Spring ’23

January 18, 2023 Stories from ACE 30

Please respond to BOTH questions thoroughly.

1. What is your service site/capstone project? What is your main role there? What is a professional goal you would like to achieve at your site/with your capstone this semester?

2. Please reflect on Winter Retreat 2023 and/or any service you completed over Winter break. Describe what you did, what you learned, and one suggestion for future improvements (Winter Retreat specific).

For the new/exploring students:

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your service interests. What are your goals for the semester (service, school, etc.)? What are you hoping to get out of Bonner?


30 Responses

  1. Katharine Lindsay says:

    My service site is the boys and girls club of the capital area in Troy. I assist, collaborate, and participate in the after-school care programming with the staff and kids. I would like to take on a leadership role with working towards and facilitating a workshop(s) or activity that aligns with my passions and the mission / practices of BGCCA.

    I really appreciated the what is your why and back to basics theme this winter retreat. I attended the diversity, dialogue and identity inventory training, and the community asset trip, etc. I learned that I should reconsider how my passions and social-justice interests play into my service, and can inspire it, as well as other facets of my college life. I also am refocusing my effort into taking what I’ve brainstormed and planning and acting on my next steps in service! It would be nice to have more Bonner-bonding to welcome the new bonners!

  2. Katharine Lindsay says:

    My service site is the Boys and Girls Club of the Capital Area in Troy. I assist, collaborate, and participate with the staff in after-school care programming for the kids. I would like to hold a leadership role this semester by working toward and facilitating a workshop or activity.

    I appreciated the what is your why perspective on service and the practical tools we learned in training. I participated in workshops like diversity dialogue and identity inventory, identifying community assets, etc. I got to reevaluate how my passions and justice goals could influence my service, and view my site through what assets it provides to the community. I also now consider how I can have dialogues and go through the planning and doing phases of the cycle we learned about where I am in my Bonner and schoolwork. I hope that next time there will be more opportunities for new and current bonner bonding / ice breakers to welcome each other before the start of the semester!

  3. Katie Lindsay says:

    1. What is your service site/capstone project? What is your main role there? What is a professional goal you would like to achieve at your site/with your capstone this semester?
    My service site is the Boys and Girls Club of the Capital Area in Troy. I assist, collaborate, and participate with the staff in after-school care programming for the kids. I would like to hold a leadership role this semester by working toward and facilitating a workshop or activity.

    2. Please reflect on Winter Retreat 2023 and/or any service you completed over Winter break. Describe what you did, what you learned, and one suggestion for future improvements (Winter Retreat specific).
    I appreciated the what is your why perspective on service and the practical tools we learned in training. I participated in workshops like diversity dialogue and identity inventory, identifying community assets, etc. I got to reevaluate how my passions and justice goals could influence my service, and view my site through what assets it provides to the community. I also now consider how I can have dialogues and go through the planning and doing phases of the cycle we learned about where I am in my Bonner and schoolwork.

  4. Raenell Holder says:

    My service site this semester is the connect center for youth. My main goal this semester is to work on increasing volunteers for our after-school homework help program and encouraging retention among said volunteers. One professional goal I would like to achieve at the connect center is to work closely with Ben and Helen and my other bonner colleagues to ensure that we are doing all that we can to maximize the efficiency of the organization; catering to the children we serve appropriately and as best as we can.

    At winter retreat we engaged in a number of standard training that allowed us to assess ourselves and the areas where we are privileged as well as think strategically about the goals we would like to achieve on our personal journey and how that can help us with how we show up and serve the people and communities we do. The most influential training that I was a part of during the winter retreat was the training on emotional intelligence that was facilitated by Tamara. I really enjoyed being a part of the open discussions we had and it felt really nice to do the worksheet which had us acknowledge the areas we did and did not stand privileged in. I learned so much about myself and got to think deeply about my position in society but I also recognized that despite being disadvantaged in some areas, the way I show up and serve the community never falters or changes.

  5. Isabella Ferragine says:

    1. I am currently exploring different service sites but I have an upcoming meeting with Unity House that I am looking forward to! I am working to make it an active site for next semester and am currently doing research about the organization so that I can understand how to approach it. I would like to build strong communication and ties with Unity House so that we have a good base for any projects that we come up with.

    2. Winter Retreat was a lot of fun and it really opened my eyes about Bonner. I had been having difficulty finding my why and I feel like taking time to slow down and go back to the basics really helped me understand my place better. I feel like I have a much better mindset about this semester and it made me excited for everything that’s to come. I have a class that is scheduled over the Wednesday night meetings so I appreciated getting to visit with everyone. One suggestion for a winter retreat would be the addition of a service portion.

  6. Brianna Rodriguez says:

    I currently do not have a service site, but I’m looking to be placed on a NExT project for this semester. My service interests are very broad right now as I’m mainly focused on expanding my skillset, so I think I’m mainly aiming for an exploratory learning experience this semester. My goal for this semester is to fall back into service with a more positive attitude toward the opportunities I may encounter.

    I really like this year’s Winter Retreat because it allowed us to come back into the program and reflect on why we’re here and what we want out of the Bonner Program. During Winter Retreat, we had two training on Dialogue Across Differences and Experiential Learning facilitated by Tamara and Sarah, respectively. Dialogue Across Differences discussed how to establish norms and guidelines when entering a dialogue with others. Experiential Learning touched on the importance of reflection on the work that we do, service-wise, academically, or personally. I loved these trainings because, although these are “back to basics” topics, they were refreshing for coming back to Bonner for the Spring semester. I feel like these trainings made me excited to get back to service and feel like I have a place in this program again when I previously felt disconnected. One suggestion could be for more reflection time on our own before coming together as a group.

  7. Kayla McKay says:

    This semester my service will be done as a Program Associate specifically focusing on accountability. I will also be supporting recruitment as well. My goal for this semester will be to focus a portion of my Bonner service hours working and strengthening my capstone. The end goal of the capstone is to create a course that is offered to health studies and other students at Siena College by working with SICM. Something that I would also like to get done throughout this semester is working on a literature review and submitting a proposal to the IRB.

  8. Marina Barsoum says:

    Hello, my name is Marina Barsoum, and I’m a sophomore Health Studies/ Health policy major. I’m from Watervliet, NY, and my interest going forward with working at my site and Bonner is to connect my major to my site and see what I can do to benefit people and help them as much as possible. I’ve volunteered several times at the Senior Center near my house and I’m really interested in continuing working with them. My Goal for this semester is trying to achieve a better GPA and to also be more involved on campus. I hope to pursue my interests and find ways to help others as much as I can.

  9. Asavari Gowda says:

    My service sites are Free-food fridge and capital city rescue mission’s free clinic. At free food fridge, I pack at least 100 meals a week with my partner and at the clinic, I am a medical assistant (I do intakes, fill prescriptions, and help around the clinic). From free food fridge, I am learning organizational skills and the basics of how a college works with nonprofits. At the clinic, I am learning a lot about the environment of clinical care and healthcare inequity for uninsured/undocumented individuals.

    Over Winter Break, I volunteered within my small nonprofit group at home called Hope Hearted. We get usable hygiene and first aid supplies that hospitals are discarding and package them into care kits that we distribute to various unhoused individuals in the Bay Area and now Southern CA via food banks, free clinics, and shelters. This break, I worked on transporting supplies and securing funding so that we can also purchase new hygiene supplies. This group is made of a lot of wonderful people and over the years it has allowed me to learn firsthand the types of healthcare inequity issues people in lower socioeconomic brackets experience as well as about the growing epidemic that is drug abuse within the unhoused community.

  10. Nora Diede says:

    This semester I’m working on a project with Wildwood Programs. The goal of this project is to connect Wildwood clients with Siena students. I am trying to organize a few days in which students meet with the clients in a “best buddy” type activity, on Siena’s campus. We are calling this program College Connections, and I am in the process of finding interested students that can pair up with a Wildwood client. In the end, I will make a design that will allow for this program to be replicated at other colleges. I want to work on my organizational skills this semester, which will defiantly be touched upon. I can already see this skill set being utilized in my weekly service. I also want to work on leadership this semester, which will be needed to organize an orientation with all those involved in the program.

    I liked Winter retreat a lot. I enjoyed that we focused on the basics of service. This manifested in being able to determine our “why” for committing to this program. I learned most about how to recognize this why in my life. I think that I am certainly doing that this semester, as I am engaged with a site that I am really passionate about. I am excited to take the trainings and conversations from Winter Retreat into action. I think that the structure of Winter Retreat was very well done, and allowed for a lot of reflection, alongside downtime to prepare for the semester. One suggestion I have is to include a training based on world or local events. I think that there is so much going on in the world, and we are likely to come face to face with some of that while going out into the community. This would allow us to better understand our role in the community and the reasons for some of the injustices that we are bound to see.

  11. Kimberly Lopez says:

    My current site is The Connect Center. Regarding my role, I am a marketing assistant and I’m currently the one working on the Connect Center newsletters, blog posts, and Instagram posts. This semester I will also be working on recruiting volunteers for our Homework Help program, right now we are looking for tutors so if you need fieldwork hours email us at!I hope to create something consistent for this program alongside other bonners at the site.

    I enjoyed the winter retreat a lot! Going back to basics was much needed because I found myself doing a lot of self-reflection and it got me thinking about what I want to achieve this semester. I need to keep my ‘why?’ in mind when doing things I do at my site and as a student. I hope to find both my site work and my school work complimenting each other.

  12. Giavanna Pitagno says:

    My capstone project is with the Food Pantries of the Capital District, analyzing a consumer satisfaction survey on their pantry programs. Since the IRB process has delayed my capstone, I am not working on my capstone directly this semester. But I will be working on distributing the survey and collecting data this semester. My goal is to have a very clear view of my capstone by the end of this semester.

    I was studying abroad during Winter Retreat- but heard a lot of positive feedback about it!

  13. Hannah Lawlor says:

    This semester I have moved to a new site called Spina Bifida! So far I have learned about the organization and what their goals for the year are. They have 2 main events that take up the most amount of time and man power. Currently the next big event is Walk and Roll. I am hoping I can put my best foot forward and help make the event better than ever! I am also working with Bonner/ACE office to bring the Bonner newsletter back! I am so exciting to dig deep into Bonners history as well as broaden the horizons for Bonners advocacy. By the end of the semester I am hoping to have created a news letter that will be reassuring and is fully of interesting information for hundreds!

    While I did have to miss some of winter retreat the last day was super inspirational to me! We went on the emergent trip to Troy where I was a sponge to knowledge. Mara taught us all about her community and the upsetting but real effects of redlining. Communities suffer due to big corporations coming in and making people flee their home and being left with nothing. While it is a devastating topic, I am glad the knowledge was shared. With this trip I was also able to learn all about the Unity house and what they have to offer to the community of Troy. The organization works to help people in all area of their live from clothing to affordable housing and even protecting people with a new domestic violence shelter. The site is truly amazing and has new opportunities arising that I am also exciting to work on. A new medical van is in the works and I hope I can add some insightful ideas to help the community of Troy and beyond!

  14. Anum Tehseen says:

    This semester I will continue to work with the Next team at The Regional Food Pantry. We will get to analyze data provided to us by our partners. Currently our roles have not been determined yet, but the entire team is coming up with ideas as to how to approach the data. We will also be working on developing concept-maps and our communication skills as a team. A professional goal that I would like to set for myself is to learn how to approach and understand data, because having this skill will prove to be very beneficial for me in the STEM field.

    This year’s winter retreat proved to be very insightful for me. Through Saraha’s presentation I learned that I’m a kinesthetic learner, which helped me understand why my current study methods have not generated the best results. The only thing I would like to add or improve is, how should I integrate this into my schedule, or how do I approach this kind of learning.

  15. Elizabeth Holden says:

    This semester I am working with Girls on the Run Capital Region. I help with volunteer recruitment and retention and help boost our engagement on social media. I want to improve my confidence and decision-making skills this semester. I hope to work more on independent projects to get some experience making decisions and believing in my capabilities. I look forward to growing both independently and alongside my site.

    While I was not able to attend the entirety of Winter Retreat, I really enjoyed the last day that I went to. On the final day of Winter Retreat, we were given the opportunity to go out into the community and see the areas that many of us are serving. I think it is very important to see the community so we get a real understanding of who we are helping and what area we are impacting. It makes the work we do more real and is very rewarding. As a freshman, it is tough that I do not have a car to travel around off-campus. Apart from service I never get the chance to see the area around Siena. By giving us the chance to see community assets in the capital region, we get a deeper connection to the work we do.

  16. My capstone project is the Intersection of Foster Care, Incarceration, and Substance Use. Sadly, I was not able to conduct any experiments because I could not get my IRB passed so I am completing a literature review. I hope to get all my research done and the paper written by NCUR. It was nice meeting the Bonner freshman and the new Bonners. We had many insightful conversations and the training with Sarah on Monday stood out to me. One suggestion I have for improving the winter retreat is not to have so many long and frequent breaks in between. We all need breaks, but as a person who had to stay in the building the whole time, it made the day very long.

  17. Isabella Banks says:

    My service site is the Red Cross. While at the red cross i will be a member of the disaster service team. I have not started yet but i have heard good things about the team. I would like to achieve my goal of having a bigger part to play while i’m there. Over winter break i did not attend the winter retreat but i did work at the eddy. Many of my residents fell ill but i learned a lot about the care they needed and how to make them feel as good as they could while being sick.

  18. Jaden Simpson says:

    My goal for the semester are just getting out of my comfort zone which means doing something that I would never do but at least try to do to grow overall. I am hoping to get that out of Bonner by communicating more and as I have seen everyone does this great in this program.

  19. Liz MacMurray says:

    My service site this semester is continuing my role as a Program Associate. I will also continuing working on creating what recruitment will look like this semester as next year. The whole process is changing a lot so I am excited to be apart of some of the changes and hopefully create a sustainable recruitment system. An overall professional goal I have is to work on balancing my PA responsibilities with my capstone project. I want to be able to put effective effort into both roles so an overall goal I have is to stay organized and balanced.

    This Winter Retreat, I learned so much and I really enjoyed it! The training about experiential learning with Sarah really stood out to me and it helped me think about my capstone project more. It also helped me think about my role as a PA and the different personal and professional goals I have.

  20. Thomas Sherwin says:

    Hello, my name is Thomas Sherwin and I am a freshman and a history major here at Siena College who has just entered the Bonner Program. I live in Saratoga, have gone to Catholic schools all my life, and have six younger brothers. I do distance running during the fall, spring, and summer and work at the Hannaford in Saratoga during breaks from school. Community service-wise, I am not sure that I have particularly strong interests about what I want to do specifically, but as a start, I have a slight focus on food justice as I have volunteered at a soup kitchen near home and found it a meaningful experience. I hope to try out a few different things and play to my strengths so I can do the best job I can.

    This semester, I hope to finish with a 4.0 GPA if possible, do a few different clubs and get involved on campus, and do something meaningful and productive in my free time, which is partly why I joined the Bonner Program. If I have the opportunity to help people in need, I want to take advantage. I am not sure about the specifics of what I want to do as my service yet. I also hope to become better at time management, balancing school-related activities (school, clubs, etc.) with my personal life, and become more motivated to be successful in all areas of my life.

    From participation in the Bonner Program, I want to feel accomplished knowing I have done something good for those around me. More importantly, I know that there are people in the community who I can help in some way, as that is why the sites we serve at were established, and so I do not want to sit around and do nothing while there are people who could use a helping hand in times of need that I could provide. I guess what I am saying is that asking what I want to get out of participation in the Bonner Program may not be the full question – it is not only what this program could give me, as it was not necessarily designed to give me something, but to allow me to give others something. I know there is more to this program than that, but this is the part that resonates most with me the most. It is part of my religious beliefs to live your life in service to others, and being a part of this program can help me to do just that.

    • Ava says:

      We are so excited to have you a part of the Bonner Program!! Your goals are awesome for the semester and I believe that you will be able to achieve them. I love what you said about wanting to help others. That is such an important part of the Bonner Program and I’m excited to see all that you’re going to get to do at your site.

  21. Mara Golden says:

    My capstone is being done through Albany Medical Center- Subspecialties Pediatric Outpatient Clinic. Through my time at Albany Med I will be evaluating my skills as a social worker and evaluating my responses to situations that arise whether it is with patients or other medical staff. My main role in my department is to provide emotional and mental support for families. I am their resource to all other community resources they may need. My goal for my capstone is to finish writing it and get it published. The one thing that really stuck with me over winter retreat was asset mapping. I wish the training used the term “health asset mapping” and “redlining” because there is a big difference. I am glad that I was able to share that with my group and that they were able to take something away from our CDI tour. This is such an important topic to talk about and get Bonner’s to understand how communities they are serving are being affected.

  22. Samantha Lunt says:

    One of my service sites this semester is serving as a program associate where I am working on training development. My other service site is the Connect Center, where I am also working on my capstone. The focus of my capstone is on engaging and retaining college student volunteers. I will be creating a volunteer training as well as writing a literature review from the research I have done. My goal this semester is to finish my capstone and then present my research.

    I really enjoyed winter retreat and getting back to the basics! I liked getting to learn more about my learning style and getting to step outside of my comfort zone with the difficult conversations. It was also really cool getting to see the new grocery store in the south end of Albany. I am very happy that my last winter retreat went the way it did and I know that I will be able to take what I learned with me in my last semester and in the years to come.

  23. Samantha Lunt says:

    My service site is at the more house as a program associate, where I am working on training development. My other service site where I am also doing my capstone is the Connect Center. I am working on my capstone which is creating a training guide for them when it comes to training volunteers and being able to better engage and retain volunteers. My goal this semester is to finish my capstone and then present my research.

    I really enjoyed winter retreat this year and getting back to the basics. I learned more about my learning styles and I liked setting our norms for the space, especially when we are having difficult conversations. This was a really good last winter retreat and I know that I am able to take these experiences in the different conversations and activities we had into my work this semester and in the years to come.

  24. Amanda Molloy says:

    I am doing some hours this semester with the Spina Bifida Association of NYS and also doing some hours beginning my capstone. With SBANYS, I work mainly in the realm of fundraising and marketing. This semester I along with the other bonners at my site will be focusing on assisting with planning SBANYS’ annual Walk-n-roll to raise money and awareness of spinal bifida. I hope to achieve some leadership with this in helping to guide the new bonners at my site and take on bigger responsibilities. As for my capstone, I am going to do something surrounding the benefits of restorative justice and trauma-informed care in school systems. I am mainly going to work on solidifying a community partner and consistently connecting with my faculty advisor so that we are grounded and have a clear direction to begin working on this project full force next year.

    Winter retreat was a great experience this past year. I loved the theme of going back to basics and I feel like I learned that it is crucial to get back to simplistic ways in order to ground yourself and find your path. I think it would be nice to bring the service component back to winter retreat but also really enjoyed that it wasn’t super long because I think that helped everyone remain genuinely engaged for the time we were together so I understand that in order to shorten it some things need to be taken out.

  25. Ava Bibisi says:

    My service sites this year are the Spina Bifida Association of New York State and the Bonner Program. My main role this semester at SBANYS is to fundraise and create marketing strategies in preparation for their annual Walk-N-Roll event that takes place in May. Within the Bonner Program as a PA, I focus on B-Love which involves formulating the weekly, creating Bonner bonding events for students to attend, as well as the semester service days. A goal I have for myself this semester at SBANYS is to onboard new Bonners and to make them feel as comfortable and welcomed as I did at this site. I want to be more flexible since I am now working with more students and I want to be able to step up to this new leadership role in the best possible way and with open arms. Another goal I have is to also get more comfortable with my community partner that I will be working with on my capstone.

    I really enjoyed Winter Retreat this semester. I learned a lot about myself and my learning styles as well as how to set up norms for a space. I was able to think about how I tend to rush through semester after semester and not step back and think about why I do all the things I do, not just at Siena or in Bonner, but just day-to-day. I think these lessons I will be able to take with me and were able to give me a new insight on some of the adjustments I’m going to make moving forward this semester.

  26. Stephanie Da Fonseca says:

    My Capstone project is finding identity as a first generation American. I am writing it as a literature review and an autoethnography of my experiences. A goal for this semester is to complete my capstone and present it at NCUR with other Bonner seniors!
    Winter retreat 2023 was a great experience to reconnect with our roots as Bonners. We are having difficult conversations and going back to the basics when it comes to serving our community. We had an amazing CDI experience where we learned about asset mapping and so many new potential partners and opportunities. A suggestion would be to keep having trainings where we have to be brave and vulnerable with each other, Bonner is the place that allows these organic and uncensored safe spaces, which is what drew me to the program in the first place!

  27. Rachel+Gifford says:

    My service site this semester is the Bonner program. As a PA I will be developing a new P.A. role that will include connecting Bonners with information/opportunities from the Bonner foundation, signing Bonners up for Bonner connect, proposing changes to our program, and possibly alumni relations. My goal for this semester is to iron out this new role and to work with the other P.A.’s to understand their roles and what support they might need. I’m very excited to be working within a team and to discuss with other Bonners what changes they would like to see. Additionally, I am also beginning to work on my capstone project. I’m looking forward to working with SiCM as a community partner and creating an interdisciplinary course for health studies students that focuses on complementary and alternative medicine.

    I enjoyed Winter Retreat and coming together again for the start of a new semester. I learned about setting norms for a space and my styles of learning! My favorite part was going on the CDI trip. I feel like every time we go I learn something new and interesting about the area! I also liked how this time we chose places to go to ahead of time so that we know where we are going and what we should be doing. Next Winter Retreat I would love to have a service day. I really enjoyed last year’s service portion of Winter Retreat and I always feel more connected when we are able to go out into the community and do service together.

  28. Abby James-Vickery says:

    My service site is still the Connect Center for youth! My main role there is to help assist with the after school program and specifically working on recruiting volunteers for our various programs. So if you are interested, let me know!!!! My professional goal is to create a consistent routine for all bonners at the center so that we can create a sustainable team and help with future teams that may be there! I also want to find more volunteers for our after school program!

    I was not at winter retreat because I was abroad, but being abroad was a great experience and I learned a lot about myself! However, I heard great things about winter retreat, so I am excited for the next one!

    • Ava says:

      Hearing what you had to say about being abroad is so exciting. I’m so glad you were able to experienced this awesome time and were able to learn more about who you are as a person.

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