Monday, September 28, 2009
Like many college graduates, Annie Pasqua describes her undergraduate years as a transformative experience. In Pasqua’s case, one program in particular challenged her to step out of her comfort zone and make a difference.
As a freshman at Lees McRae College in North Carolina, the Tennessee native joined the Bonner Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Bertram and Corella Bonner that strives to promote community involvement in students across the country. While Pasqua participated in service trips, she did not regularly participate in community service in high school. The Bonner program allowed her to get involved with her local community.
As a Bonner leader, Pasqua and her peers started Brownie and Junior Girl Scout troops for 16 disadvantaged students in the rural area surrounding the college. The troops are still in existence today.
“The experience connected me beyond the walls of the college to people in all different walks of life,” Pasqua said. “Avery County, where the college is located, has some of the richest and poorest areas in the state.”
Now Pasqua is back on a college campus, but in a different role, this time as the new assistant director of Campus Life for Service Learning at Rider University. Pasqua oversees 40 students in the Rider Community Scholars/Bonner Leaders program. Students in the program attend annual meetings, conferences and workshops about community service, participate in service projects, and take on a weekly service site in the community. Community Partners include El Centro, HomeFront, Trenton Area School Program, Mercer Street Friends and Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.
Pasqua plans to use her experience as a Bonner to help other students.
“As a student, the Bonner program changed my life view,” she said. “I realized I had passion for creating exposure of social justice issues and motivating others to take action through community service.”
Prior to coming to Rider, Pasqua worked at the Bonner Foundation headquarters in Princeton for two years, where she consulted colleges and universities about integrating leadership development and social media in their programs.
In her new position, Pasqua aims to strengthen the program by creating more campus-wide service activities and encouraging more students to participate in service projects.
“It’s great to be back on a college campus. It’s exciting and motivating,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working more with the students.”