Bonner Leader Program

Access to Education, Opportunity to Serve

If you have a passion for public service and a desire to be a positive force in your community, Wilkes University’s Bonner Leader Program can help you build the skills you need to lead the charge for change.

Take a few minutes to learn how you can get to know the Wilkes-Barre community by serving those around you. Join Catie, the Bonner Leader Program Coordinator, to see how you can join in your first-year as a Colonel!

Please note: the event is broken up into 30 minute sessions.

Upcoming events to be announced.

During your time at Wilkes, you’ll commit to participate in this unique work-study experience that blends community service with enrichment and training activities. The program provides financial support for your education and promotes:

  • Leadership
  • Self-awareness
  • Professional skills

You’ll join a nationally acclaimed, service-based initiative. From its introduction by the Bonner Foundation in 1990, the Bonner Leader Program has grown to a multi-faceted civic engagement and leadership program hosted by a network of more than 70 colleges and universities.

Inspired by the motto “Access to Education, Opportunity to Serve,” Bonner alumni share their talents on a local, national and global level.

How to Apply

If you are ready to grow through access to education and opportunity to serve, apply to be a Bonner Leader at Wilkes.

Each year, the University will select only eight to 10 incoming first-year students via a competitive application process. You must be admitted to Wilkes University to apply.

Deadline to apply is the spring prior to your first semester at Wilkes.

Finalists will be invited for an interview with the selection committee that will take place on campus or via Zoom. Students selected into the program will be notified shortly thereafter.

Apply to Bonner


For questions regarding the Bonner Leaders program, please contact:

Catie Becker

Bonner Leader Program Coordinator

Being a Bonner Leader

Wilkes University seeks diverse applicants who want to make their corner of the world a better place.

You may be eligible for the Wilkes Bonner Leader program if you...
  • Possess a fierce desire to change the world.
  • Demonstrate active service involvement in your high school or community.
  • Will be an incoming first-year student in the fall semester.
  • Have submitted a FAFSA to Wilkes University.
  • Are eligible for a federal work-study award and demonstrate financial need.
Preference will be given to...
  • Those with high school grade-point average of 2.75 and above.
  • Individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  • Recipients of Wilkes University Colonel Emerging Leader Award.

The Bonner Leader program offers transformative advantages to you, the Wilkes campus and the surrounding area. 

  • Earn work-study pay for eight to 10 hours of program service, training and reflection each week.
  • Gain valuable work experience, leadership skills and career insight by engaging in progressively more challenging and meaningful training and community service activities.
  • Develop an appreciation for experiences of those different from you.
  • Become an essential part of peer and staff support that cultivates a stronger sense of belonging on campus.
  • Have the opportunity to participate in regional and national conferences.
  • Network with other members of this nationally recognized program.
  • Become an active leader on campus and in the community.

Participation in the Bonner Leader Program is a four-year commitment to yourself, your campus and your community.

  • Commit to six to eight hours per week — about 270 hours per academic year — of direct service in the community.
  • Participate in regular training and enrichment activities.
  • Assume leadership roles in various on-campus civic engagement initiatives.
  • Participate in cornerstone activities, including the first-year alternative break trip and second-year exchange with Bonner Leaders from other schools.
  • Present a senior capstone project.

Five "E"s of Bonner


If you’re chosen for the program, Wilkes has recognized your passion for service and your commitment to use your talents to make a positive impact on the community.


From the start of the program, we’ll encourage you to explore the Wilkes-Barre community by way of service and to refine your sense of self-awareness and civic identity through weekly trainings and reflections.


While performing direct service at a local agency, you will receive in-depth training and work closely with staff to further understand their mission and analyze community issues. You will also gain valuable experience coordinating major service initiatives on campus.


As you advance into their third and fourth years in the program, you will assume advanced responsibilities within selected community agencies and take on more significant capacity building projects.


At the conclusion of the Bonner experience, you will be able to better recognize, discuss and analyze complex social issues affecting both Wilkes-Barre and our broader society.

Year-by-Year Overview

Spend six to eight hours a week serving at a community agency and one to two hours in formal education, training and reflection sessions. Leaders are afforded the opportunity to participate in an alternative break service trip with their cohort in the spring and may also pursue summer internships throughout their first three years in the program.

In addition to direct service and trainings, begin to assume more expanded leadership roles on campus. Present educational sessions to the first-year cohort and take on significant roles in ongoing campus initiatives sponsored by the Civic Engagement Office such as blood drives, Special Olympics, Into the Streets Clean-up and Alternative Break. Participate in the “second-year exchange,” providing service outside your region.

While continuing participation in the periodic cohort educational sessions and trainings, take on more significant capacity-building projects within direct-service agencies. As a fourth-year student, complete and present a senior capstone project connecting knowledge from academic studies and Bonner sessions to direct service experiences.

Meet the Fall 2022 Bonner Leaders

Aleczia Britt

I want to be able to stand up for more issues via my involvement in this program and try to help others while doing so.Aleczia Britt
  • First-Year
  • Hometown: Pottsville, PA
  • Major: Computer Science

Dhruvi Shah

Being able to be part of this program, I will try to solve and analyze social issues. I will also discuss and analyze the issues that are affecting our community.Dhruvi Shah
  • First-Year
  • Hometown: Scranton, PA
  • Major: Pre-Pharmacy

Edweana (E) Alexis

I would like to meet my community and be a part of it and be a connection between someone in need and someone who will be able to help them.Edweana (E) Alexis
  • Sophomore
  • Hometown: Saylorsburg, PA
  • Major: Political Science

Gabrielle (Gabbie) Moore

I believe that when students that have a similar mindset and similar goals are placed in a room together, they will encourage everyone to thrive and grow.Gabrielle (Gabbie) Moore
  • First-Year
  • Hometown: Erie, PA
  • Major: Political Science

Julia Bouder

I am excited for a new social environment that will allow myself and others to impact the other students on campus, along with the community.Julia Bouder
  • First-Year
  • Hometown: Lancaster, PA
  • Major: English

Maria Medina-Martinez

For me, it is important to have a circle of people who have similar goals. I hope that the program helps me to have the courage to serve as an example for other people.Maria Medina-Martinez
  • First-Year
  • Hometown: Hazleton, PA
  • Major: Financial Investments

Megan Rozanski

I want to inspire others but I also want to be inspired. Being a part of this program will enable me to do both while helping me to develop into a true servant leader.Megan Rozanski
  • First-Year
  • Hometown: Clairton, PA
  • Major: Neuroscience

Sarah McAndrew

What excites me about this program is the possibility of being put in front of the student body and showing them what I am capable of doing on their behalf.Sarah McAndrew
  • First-Year
  • Hometown: Lake Ariel, PA
  • Major: Nursing

Stef Rosas

I feel as though it is an urgent time for me to start stepping into the world and get in contact with the community that I have access to as a college student.Stef Rosas
  • Sophomore
  • Hometown: Reading, PA
  • Major: Neuroscience
Abigayle Smith


Hometown: Plymouth, PA
Major: Digital Design and Media Art
Brenda Arias


Hometown: Hanover Township, PA
Major: Hospitality Leadership
Emily Blaine


Hometown: Shavertown, PA
Major: Pre-Pharmacy
Bhavika "Nikki" Dawar


Hometown: Sparta, NJ
Major: Biology/Pre-Medicine
Alexis Nardone


Hometown: Rockaway, NJ
Major: Early Childhood Education
Amelia "Mia" O'Connor


Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Major: Nursing
Marytere Quintana-Avila


Hometown: Scranton, PA
Major: Political Science
Ada Soriano


Hometown: Wilkes-Barre, PA
Major: Pre-Pharmacy
1 of 8

Universities in PA, and the only university in Northeast PA, to offer Bonner Leader


Paid workstudy hours each week for program service, training, and reflection


Years gaining valuable work experience, leadership skills and career insight within the program

Bonner Leaders in Action

Bonner Leader Program