When and why did you begin volunteering?
I first started volunteering with my father’s political campaigns when I was ten. I would go with him to hours of letter-stuffing and talking with the volunteers helping to run his campaign, and when I was older he introduced me to his campaign managers and occasionally let me help canvas for his and other elections. He would explain the things he’d observed trying to work with other people towards one goal, and then ask what I would do. I realized that people often struggled to reach their goals because they couldn’t agree on the right path to take to get there. When I began volunteering at my studio, I noticed the same thing, and through mediating began to see that many disagreements were caused by the way that different struggles in life shaped each person’s idea of how to achieve success. It became clear that some people seemed to have to struggle a great deal more than others, often because of factors out of their control, and it didn’t seem right to just accept that. Through analyzing the ways others approached their goals, my own goals became clearer, and I began searching for more service options.
Bonner Leader Interns face many challenges over the course of their service. Think about a challenge you have experienced. Briefly identify the challenge and explain in detail how you approached this challenge (how you planned, what resources you used, what actions were taken) and any lessons or knowledge gained from the experience.
During my first semester junior year, I took AP Calculus and AP Physics, both of which gave me a much heavier workload than I expected. I found myself coming home after my dance classes exhausted and unprepared for the assignments I still had left. To manage, I began to lay my work out in front of me and determine what I needed to do immediately, what I could fit in later on, and what I would need help to complete, and continuing accordingly. I also started scheduling my week thoroughly, using any break I had during the day to reduce the burden I would have later that night. I became very good at time management, and was even able to help my friends in similarly overwhelming situations break down their schedules and fit in what needed to be done. I passed each class with an A, and continue now to use the same tactics I taught myself last year, finding any opportunity to finish a job sooner rather than later and prioritizing my tasks based on both ability and importance so that everything is finished by the time that it is needed.
In addition to service, the Bonner Leader Program is also about developing student leaders both professionally and personally through regular workshops. Please share what you consider your current strengths as a leader to be and the ways in which you would like to grow as a leader through the program.
As a leader now, I am able to effectively manage and schedule my own workload, give and take constructive criticism, and help guide others towards paths that will help them meet their goals. I am consistently able to grasp on my own how to do things that I am unfamiliar with, and easily seek out and establish connections within the community. In the Bonner program, I want to gain a better understanding of the management skills needed to create a program of my own, and learn how to find opportunities to serve with community outreach agencies that are already established. By working with those with more experience, I also want to understand how to recruit people with similar interests and more easily collaborate with those who have differing perspectives and experiences in life.
Some students have a passion for service, but were not able to engage in regular service for one reason or another during high school. If this is true for you, please explain why you were unable to the pursue these interests to the extent you would have liked in high school. Please also include specific examples of how other experiences have prepared you to be a part of the Bonner Leaders Program.
When I was in tenth grade, I joined my dance studio’s company and began to advance into the intermediate class levels. As I moved into harder classes, they met more frequently and longer, and this year alone I go to my studio straight from school and stay until nine o’clock or later. Rehearsals for the studio company are on weekends and are not sent out until the Thursday or Friday before, which means that I also have to keep my weekends open in order to prepare for the fall, winter, and spring performances. The rigor of my dance company, while preventing me from devoting time to other things, forced me to be reliable, manage my time effectively, and be able to both give and take constructive criticism. I know how to prioritize demands when low on time or resources, and through teaching classes at my studio and elsewhere have started learning how to guide others critically yet helpfully. Dance also teaches that no skill is perfect, and I will always be pushing myself to learn more from those around me and to search for ways that the current system could be improved.
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