By Wendi Wheeler ’06
DEVELOPING FUTURE LEADERS
The College’s commitment to the community has been extended through the Bonner Leader program. Now in its fourth year at Augsburg, the Bonner program connects 40 students to local partners including schools, community centers, churches, and other nonprofit organizations. Bonner students commit 10 to 12 hours per week working with the organizations as well as three to five volunteer hours per month.
Kristin Farrell, director of the Bonner Leader program, said she believes the program affects students in multiple ways. “It changes the way they see themselves and their communities, and it changes the way they do academics. They see their education as a way to make change in the world,” she said.
Bonner students meet as a group with Farrell three times monthly for training and enrichment, giving them a chance to reflect with their peers and to make connections to their classes. Through these experiences, Farrell said students uncover their gifts, and this discovery can lead to new direction in their education or career paths.
Because Bonner students often make a long-term commitment to an organization, Farrell said the partners tend to expect more from the students than they would from a short-term intern or a volunteer. This provides opportunities for students to become deeply engaged in the work of the organization.
Farrell added that the program shapes community leaders who are sought after by employers. “I think being in the Bonner Leader program gives students a leg up as they leave Augsburg,” she said. “Organizations want people who are knowledgeable about communities.”
“The Bonner program provides a deep level of relationships to community partners and a very purposeful way of getting students immersed in the community,” Farrell said. It also connects Augsburg students to a network of more than 10,000 Bonner alumni—students focused on social justice issues who help connect Augsburg grads to opportunities beyond college and in communities outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.