The Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation aimed to study the educational and professional impact of the Bonner program on undergraduate students. In previous years, the foundation implemented surveys to measure student development both during and after their undergraduate careers. In the academic year of 2019-2020, the foundation conducted a new student impact survey to measure student development as well as retention and graduation rates.
Fig. 1: Students involved in leadership roles outside of Bonner; Source: Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation
Year after year, the student impact surveys give the foundation a snapshot into the professional development of students. The results of the 2019-2020 survey show that students become leaders within their own Bonner community, but they also assume leadership roles outside of Bonner. Students learn to motivate others to work as teams to fulfill goals and they often take on special roles at their service sites. Some have even taken on leadership roles in the Greek life initiatives offered by their institution, in sports teams, and/or extracurricular clubs.
Fig. 2: Student responses on the effect of Bonner participation on identity; Source: Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Foundation
The student impact survey also demonstrated the effect of the Bonner program on the self-perception of students. Programs that are culturally diverse and that provide a healthy and inclusive climate motivate students to adopt a significant interest in community engagement. The Bonner program seems to not only help in identity formation but also helps in the consolidation of already existing beliefs. In other words, students not only begin their journey into finding out who they are, but also what they believe in. Many students take on roles that center around social justice issues and many come to realize that they have the ability to succeed in academic endeavors when provided the necessary resources.
The survey also showed that the Bonner program reaffirms students’ specific academic interests whether it’d be in their undergraduate careers or in future employment opportunities. Many students often seek majors or extracurricular activities that mirror their civic interests. Bonner Leaders often also remain committed to community engagement and choose careers that integrate community outreach principles into their work. Not only does the Bonner program give students access to education, it also fortifies their interests in majors that benefit themselves and the community.
Differing from previous years, the 2019-2020 Bonner student impact survey also revealed that the Bonner program had a high retention rate and that students were often more highly motivated to continue succeeding in their academic career. Student GPA and overall academic success seemed to exceed expectations in comparison to the general population on certain campuses. Results of the survey suggest that the resources available through the Bonner program, such as peer and faculty mentoring and financial assistance, influenced student achievement in positive ways. Overall, the survey achieved its goals of highlighting post-graduate success, of demonstrating the social and professional development associated with participation in the Bonner program, and of displaying the impact of civic engagement on the academic performance of Bonner Leaders.