For the 27th year, the senior Waynesburg University Bonner scholars will leave campus this coming weekend to reflect on their time serving.
The Bonner Program is a national scholarship that, according to its website, “affords students an access to education and opportunity to serve.” As a participating university, Waynesburg takes their Bonner seniors on an annual retreat to fulfill the scholarship requirements.
Hugh O’Neil, senior communication major and Bonner scholar, has watched three classes of Bonner scholars graduate and has heard what the retreat experience is like.
“I’ve heard that it’s kind of sad because you reminisce about your four years as a Bonner and through your time at Waynesburg University,” O’Neil said. “I’m excited for it, just to spend time with some of the Bonners that I normally don’t get to see. It will be a good time.”
Kelley Hardie, assistant dean of student services, will be leading the seniors on their retreat and hopes it offers an opportunity for reflection.
“On this retreat, I will be with the seniors,” Hardie said. “We go off campus and have a reflection retreat about their experience as a Bonner scholar, how that impacted them and ways that they felt like it was life changing.”
The Bonner seniors will be retreating to Servant Song Ministries in Waynesburg, an ecumenical retreat house and spirituality center aimed at providing a space for attendees to reflect.
The freshmen, sophomore and junior Bonner scholars will be with Avery White on campus, where they will watch a documentary and discuss their service with the program moving forward.
Already reflecting, O’Neil believes the Bonner program has changed his outlook on service and the importance of community.
“I’ve been able to look at service a different way,” O’Neil said. “The service aspect is good, I was able to do [service] in high school, but not to the extent as I do now as a Bonner. I just really like being involved in the community, whether that be coaching wrestling, being in the department of communication, the humane society and various other service sites.”
Hardie is excited for the weekend, not just for seniors, but for the program as a whole.
“We just really hope this is a learning opportunity for students,” Hardie said. “It’s a reflection opportunity for seniors. We really want them to reflect upon the four years that they were a scholar in the program. For the freshmen, sophomores and juniors, we just want them to extend their learning and how they can apply that for their daily service.”
Looking back on his time at Waynesburg, O’Neil offered some advice for future Bonner scholars at Waynesburg University.
“Stay involved in other aspects of campus, not just Bonner,” O’Neil said. “I know my freshman year, I was concerned about getting the hours done and I did a lot of communication stuff but could have done more. After the first semester I balanced it out; so take Bonner seriously and also other things seriously, because you don’t want to just do one thing and miss opportunities in various other activities around campus.”