The educational experience of 60 Waynesburg University students once again involved community service projects and the opportunity to be campus leaders throughout the school year.
These are the school’s Bonner Scholars, a program that provides the opportunity to earn scholarships through community service and leadership.
Waynesburg is one of 22 colleges nationwide to offer the prestigious Bonner Scholars Program. Selected students receive financial aid in exchange for a service commitment while enrolled in the school.
“These are truly our student leaders on campus,” said Adrienne Tharp, program director of the Center for Service Leadership and Bonner Scholars. “They help us run service projects on weekends. They lead different initiatives. They are just very involved in many different organizations throughout the community.
Typically, students participate in service trips. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no group has participated in such a trip since the spring of 2020. However, students have remained on campus or traveled to a nearby location to perform service duties. during spring break.
“They had the opportunity to serve locally in the community, but we were also able to extend some of our resources and work with some of our regional partners,” Tharp said.
Joula Anderson, a sophomore from Greensburg, participated in a cleanup effort at This Generation Connect, a Pittsburgh program started by a Waynesburg Bonner alumnus, and worked at the World Vision Pittsburgh warehouse in Sewickley.
“I think it’s a wonderful program,” she said. “I think we’re doing a lot of great things in the community and for everyone around the university. This is very fun. It brought me many friends. I really like that.”
Jesse Hazlett, a junior from Youngwood, performed maintenance work with the Greene County Historical Society and site restoration and trail maintenance with the Waynesburg Unity Trail.
Some students worked with Greene County Habitat, during which they helped renovate a home in Clarksville. Others participated in the West Waynesburg Jesus Distributor after-school program.
Having the chance to be a Bonner Scholar drew Hazlett to Waynesburg.
“Whenever I applied to Waynesburg University, I wasn’t just looking for the run-of-the-mill college experience,” Hazlett said. “I wanted to give meaning to the four years I spent here. I think the Bonner program gave me that opportunity.
Fifteen new scholarships are awarded each academic year. Once a student is awarded the scholarship, that student remains in the program for the four years at Waynesburg, if they meet the specified requirements. Bonner Fellows complete 140 hours of service each semester, an average of eight to 10 hours per week. Students in the program must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0.
Tharp said in some years there have been as many as 100 applicants for the coveted 15 spots.
Bonner Scholars receive numerous benefits, including annual cash awards to offset direct educational experiences, a living allowance while serving two summers of service, and additional cash awards to offset educational experiences once service demands are met. been completed.
“It made me a much better person,” Anderson said. “It opened my eyes to the different members of the community and the different things that happen with different people. It kind of opened my eyes and my heart. »
“It’s really rewarding to not only do direct service where you help people right in front of you, but to do a lot of indirect service where you’re not able to measure how many people you’re helping, but you hope that’s an exceptional amount,” added Hazlett.
Tharp agreed that one of the benefits of being a Bonner scholar is that there’s the good feeling that comes with community service, but she sees other things.
“I want them to ask questions like, ‘Why is this happening in our community? What can we do to solve this problem? “, She said. “I hope these experiences will help them in their careers, when they meet different people from different backgrounds. Hopefully they will know how to interact and help them. I really think these experiences will shape their future and also the rest of our future.