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.

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:

Dr. Alicia Burns

Bonner Leader Program Coordinator
(570) 408-3914

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. 

  • Students who are accepted into the Bonner Leader program will qualify for a Bonner Scholarship of $2,000/year. This will be distributed at the beginning of each semester ($1,000/semester).
  • 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 Bonner Leaders

Fall 2023 Bonner Leaders

Caitlyn (Cait) Maslar

I chose Bonners because I love to help. Being a part of my communities is a big deal to me and I want to try my best to leave a lasting impact everywhere I go. Bonners gives me the opportunity to do all that and more.Caitlyn (Cait) Maslar
  • First-Year
  • Hometown: Exeter, PA
  • Dual Major: Elementary & early childhood education / special education

Shauna McAndrew

What interests me most about the program is being able to give back to my community and being able to help those in need.Shauna McAndrew
  • First-Year
  • Hometown: Lake Ariel
  • Major: Undeclared

Analiese Monteiro

I desire to be a beacon of light in the world and to serve others. I believe this program will help me become a strong leader and create a lasting impact on those around me.Analiese Monteiro
  • First-Year
  • Hometown: Hartsdale, NY
  • Major: Pre-pharmacy program

Edweana (E) Alexis

Hometown: Saylorsburg, PA
Major: Political Science

Gabrielle (Gabbie) Moore

Hometown: Erie, PA
Major: Political Science

Julia Bouder

Hometown: Lancaster, PA
Major: English

Sarah McAndrew

Hometown: Lake Ariel, PA
Major: Psychology

Adrianna Aziz

Hometown: Reading, PA
Major: Pharmacy

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

8 - 10

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