Bonner is a four-year, developmental program that educates, equips, and inspires students to engage our local community and beyond.  Through a partnership with the prestigious Bonner Foundation, CNU joins a national network of more than 75 colleges and universities who support four-year, service-based college scholarships.

Bonner Service Scholars are placed on small, site-based teams and serve at least 10 hours each week during the school year, for a combined total of more than 300 hours each year.  In addition to direct service, Bonners participate in national conferences, skills trainings and other enrichment activities, and they help coordinate the Center for Community Engagement's Service Tracks.

Get Connected!

Who should apply?

The application deadline for the 2014 Cohort has passed.  The interview process will take place throughout April and selections will be announced in early May.  Thank you to all who applied!

Ideal Bonners are students who can demonstrate a strong commitment to community engagement, enjoy working in teams, and place high value on character development and civic involvement.  The commitments of time and effort are significant and should be weighed carefully before applying.  Think of this as joining an NCAA Division I Service Team.  Being a Bonner Service Scholar will be a primary way to distinguish yourself at Christopher Newport University and beyond.


What are the benefits?

The first significant benefit is the community of support among CNU Bonners, and among the National Bonner Network.  Bonners are invited to national gatherings and conferences to train and plan with like-minded peers.  All Bonners are also supported financially at various levels depending on eligibility and need.  Students who are eligible for Federal Work Study can "package" that provision with additional support.  Details of the various levels of support will be discussed on a case-by-case basis.  Finally, Bonners are often the highest achieving students at their institutions due to the sheer magnitude of their real-world experience, training, support, and development of critical time management skills.  All of these benefits propel Bonners toward a satisfying career path and a meaningful life.

Our Inaugural Cohort of Bonner Service Scholars "Bonner I"


From Left to Right: Chris Watkins, Charlotte Proctor, Hillary Braden, Brady Garrison, Denisse Aquino, DeVante Allen,

Claire Stringfellow, Valerie Washington, Lexi Abraham, Linda Oh, and Jenni Gerstenfeld


Jenni Gerstenfeld, Senior Bonner Intern

I am a Senior at Christopher Newport University from the Northern Virginia Area. I jumped right into community service work in college, and by junior year completed a two year Americorps service term working with Youth Development at the Hampton Teen Center. I have learned in these experiences with community service, is that service is a MUTUAL EXCHANGE. In service you do not simply hand down your services to the needy, and leave with a good feeling. You must be willing to both CHANGE and BE CHANGED BY your service to become truly engaged. I joined the Bonner Program as  Senior Intern because I was excited about the opportunity to work with other students younger than myself and help give them the same wonderful service experiences I had while in college, and be able to build the program and promote campus-wide service through the Center for Community Engagement. 


What do you do for fun? I like nothing better than getting lost in a really good book. Reading is one of the most fun things I do with my free time. I also love spending time with friends and family. 

Career goals and dreams: I will graduate in May 2012 and start medical school at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Fall 2012. I'm very excited to begin training as a physician. 

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: Spiritual Exploration. I believe that spiritual exploration can take many forms, from learning more about your faith, to learning more about yourself. I know that intense service experiences such as Bonner change people for the better, and I think spiritual exploration is a major part of that process. 

Favorite Food: Pasta with Alfredo sauce. I love Italian food. 


Alexis (Lexi) Abraham, Class of 2015

I'm from Northern Virginia and am of Hispanic heritage. I've done a variety of service work ranging from peer diversity training to helping build with habitat for humanity. I'm especially interested in human rights issues. I was motivated to become a Bonner because I believe in the foundations of the program and was attracted to the idea of an intensive service program.  As a Bonner Service Scholar I'm working with LINK of Hampton Roads.  They are a program that provides help to the homeless/hungry population. I work with food/clothing/furniture distribution. Also, my service position allows me to work with the case managers at LINK that assist their clients that are working towards gaining more stable living conditions by getting into a permanent home, holding a job, being relieved from addiction etc.    


What do you do for fun? Hangout, community service & I dabble in video editing 

Career goals and dreams: To become a criminal justice lawyer

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: Probably either Diversity or Social Justice, but I think the two go hand in hand because wherever there is diversity there must always be social justice and awareness to promote harmony and peaceful living

Favorite Food: I love sandwiches of almost any kind, Subway is my favorite place to eat!


DeVante Allen, Class of 2015

I was born in Landsthul, Germany on a military base. I've lived many places on the East coast of the United States because of my parents' service in the Armed Forces. My mother enlisted my sister and I to participate in various community service activities while we were on base. I've volunteered everywhere from a Veterans' Hospital to the NAACP convention. My upbringing and many years of service motivated me to become a Bonner.  For my Bonner Placement I'm serving at Arc of the Virginia Peninsula, which is a comprehensive organization that works with individuals with special needs. These individuals range from infants to senior citizens.


What do you do for fun? I like to hang out with my friends, read books, and watch movies. As long as I am participating in something that is intellectually stimulating, I'll be set. 

Career goals and dreams: I hope to become an industrial psychologist and be employed by the government. My dream is to enroll at NYU for grad school and stay in New York City for the rest of my life.

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: Diversity. I believe that there are so many unique people on this planet and everyone of them deserves to be treated with respect.

Favorite Food: Penne Pasta


Denisse Aquino, Class of 2015

I moved here at the age of seven from Bolivia. My years here have taught me a lot about different cultures and given me an appreciation of languages. Currently, I'm a Biology major with Leadership Studies as a minor. My passion is being able to get involved in the community and knowing that I am working at causes that benefit others.  My Bonner Placement is Youth Volunteer Corps of Hampton Roads and I love it because it gives me the chance to work with kids.  My goal is to be a pediatrician. Having two little brothers, I have grown to love kids because it gives me hope in the future.  I applied to the Bonner Program because it seemed like a great way to get engaged in the community and challenge myself in other matters than just academics. I've acquired new skills such as working with advertising and I have also experienced many memorable events that just changed my perspective of things through serving. 


What do you do for fun? I love to hang out with my friends and just talk about life. I love to watch movies and my  t.v. shows in my spare time.  I also like to volunteer with dogs near my hometown. Reading adventurous and suspenseful books is also fun. I love spending time with my mom and two brothers by coloring with them and taking them to the park. I also like to run the Nolan Trail because it's so beautiful and brings me close to nature.

Career goals and dreams: Become a pediatrician and help my mom start her own business. 

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: Community Building

Favorite Food: My mom's cooking! Her "plato chino" is a combination of mixed vegetables, pasta, meat and homemade fries. On a nice hot day, eating a  watermelon is the best.


Hillary Braden, Class of 2015

I have always been involved in some sort of volunteer work or service. I love to work with, care for and serve others. In the past I have served and cared for children and the elderly. I also spent some time learning about community building through various organizations. I am very passionate about how each individual affects a community as a whole. These concepts are what drove me to become a Bonner.  As a Bonner Service Scholar I am working with The Arc of the Virginia Peninsula. The Arc is an organization that assists those with disabilities. They have many different programs including child development and community living. They also have supported employment and on-site employment for individuals with disabilities. I assist with development and operations for different programs within The Arc. I love working with these individuals, giving them the opportunity for independence and better health.


What do you do for fun? I love to read, draw, cook and bake. I love to run and be outdoors. Football is my favorite sport to play and watch. 

Career goals and dreams: Whatever I do will involve helping others

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: Community Building

Favorite Food: I love trying new foods from all different cultures! 


Brady Garrison, Class of 2015

I'm from Richmond, VA, and I'd like to say that being really close with my family, my practicing of Catholicism, my love of my hometown and being an ardent fan of the VCU Rams men's basketball team have fostered a desire to develop a home away from home here in Newport News.  The best way I felt that I could do that was to give all that I could to the community here.  And of course, I found the organization that could help me channel and maximize this desire to serve: Bonner.  I was fortunate enough to become part of CNU's inaugural class of Bonner Service Scholars, and thankfully, I have ten other "Bonners" who share the same commitment to bettering the community and ourselves through service.   This year, I am serving as a ESL teacher's assistant in Commonwealth Catholic Charities' Refugee and Resettlement Program.  I will help teach refugees, many of which have little or no knowledge of the English language, the lingual tools that will undoubtedly aid their adjustment to American life.  As a first-time volunteer at Refugee and Resettlement I will also learn about and serve in the other parts of the organization, including spending time with the caseworkers, educational liaisons, and those that help the Refugees move in to their apartments.  As a result, I will have a holistic experience as a first-year Bonner, being able to serve with the entire organization in mind.  


What do you do for fun? I love to play sports and engage in physical activity- especially running.  I also love to read, argue (like debate or discussion), attend/watch sporting events, hang out with friends, and, being the nerd that I am, learn about history! 

Career goals and dreams: I really would like to have an opportunity to serve in the Military, possibly studying law and then applying to the Judge Advocate General Corps.  I have also always had teaching in the back of my mind as a career possibility.  

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: Community Building

Favorite Food: Apples with Peanut Butter


Linda Oh, Class of 2014

I am a second year biology major on the pre dental track at Christopher Newport University. Applying to become a Bonner was one of the highlights of my sophomore year. Becoming a Bonner meant getting the opportunity to follow through my words. I've always said that I wanted to get engaged in my community and to serve in hopes to make a difference, but I never made the first move to do so.  The Bonner Scholars Program promised me the opportunities to get engaged and to provide the tools needed for me to grow into an active leader in a community.  My role as a volunteer and program assistant at Youth Volunteer Corps of Hampton Roads (YVCHR) is to become familiar with the organization and help develop existing projects and clubs. I will be helping our site supervisor with developing icebreakers and team building activities for the youth volunteers. My role is to not just to help the site supervisor but to engage in the different events planned by YVCHR and build relationships with our youth volunteers and encourage friendship and leadership. My goal at YVCHR is to ultimately help this organization grow and fulfill its purpose to engage youth in meaningful volunteer opportunities to positively impact the lives of others.


What do you do for fun? When I hear the word "fun", the first few things that come to my mind are working out, watching movies, eating junk food, shopping with friends, playing sports, and making music.

Career goals and dreams: My career goal is to become a dentist. The greater dream I have is to set up my own dental mission team and travel to serve people in disadvantaged communities.

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: Diversity

Favorite Food: I absolutely love Korean food.


Charlotte Proctor, Class of 2015

Growing up I had the opportunity to experience lots of different cultures all around the United States because I was a military kid; one of the easiest ways I found to meet people was through service. Everyone meets on a level plain to get a job done and no matter who you are or where you came from people are just able to bond over service. I became a Bonner because I wanted to be a part of a group of students that were serious about helping others and having fun while doing it!  As a first-year Bonner I'm getting to know the Foodbank of the Peninsula. I'm learning how those in need of food can use the Foodbank as a resource to fill their shelves. Not only do I get to see the business side of a non-profit organization, but I also get to interact with the families that we're serving. I have the opportunity to directly help my community and see just how important the service that I'm doing is.


What do you do for fun? Aside from baking, dancing and playing soccer, I love going places and trying new things! I love piling in a car and just driving until we find something cool.

Career goals and dreams: To become a criminal justice lawyer

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: COMMUNITY BUILDING!!! My community is where I live, learn, and have fun and it's my responsibility to give back to it so that it can be there when I need it. When I leave Newport News, I want it to be better than it was when I found it, by building into my community I can ensure that will happen.

Favorite Food: I love salad! :D


Claire Stringfellow, Class of 2014

I grew up mostly in West Africa all my life, in third world countries where poverty is a big and ongoing issue. My father is a humanitarian and seeing him work so hard to make a difference made me want to rise up to that challenge as well and BE ENGAGED in the problems that people face everyday. This is why I joined Bonner because I know that this program will help me achieve what I want the most: Being a part of something greater and sharing that experience with people who have a servant heart and mindset.  For my Bonner Placement, I'm working with LINK of Hampton Roads and learning how to serve the homeless population to the fullest, finding an internship with a non-profit organization and changing the heart and minds of people for them to also serve and love their community.


What do you do for fun? I LOVE being with my family, dancing, listening to music, hanging out with friends, getting to know new people and having some time to relax. Doing anything really =)

Career goals and dreams: To work or create a non-profit organization that makes a difference by changing people's lives for the better.

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: Probably either Diversity or Social Justice, but I think the two go hand in hand because wherever there is diversity there must always be social justice and awareness to promote harmony and peaceful living

Favorite Food: I love sandwiches of almost any kind, Subway is my favorite place to eat!


Valerie Washington, Class of 2015

I was born and raised in Charlottesville, Virginia by my mother and my uncles. In high school, community service was a requirement and while fulfilling my requirement, I fell in love with the idea of giving people second chances.  I helped tutor adults and "at risk" teenagers get their GED. The experience really inspired me to continue  helping people because mistakes such as drug use or a criminal record should not determine your future.  I became a Bonner Scholar because I enjoy helping people in need like someone helped me when I was in need.  As a Bonner Service Scholar, I am learning the ins and outs of Refugee and Resettlement so that I can be part of and improve their intensive ESL program. I am also helping the refugees feel at home by moving them in to their new house, finding them resources and getting them accustomed to the unfamiliar ways of the U.S.A.


What do you do for fun? I love reading historical fiction, watching action movies, traveling and playing/watching sports.

Career goals and dreams: To be a lawyer.  I really want to help adults get their GED.  A little later in life, I would like to go to law school and become a public defender.

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: Social Justice

Favorite Food: Twizzlers.


Chris Watkins, Class of 2015

I am an Eagle Scout and through scouting I was given various service opportunities. This service and a drive to serve my local community is what motivated me to become a Bonner Service Scholar.  This year I am working with the Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula, as a Child Hunger Program Assistant.  I will be overseeing and participating in development and management in various areas of the child hunger program.


What do you do for fun? I tend to spend my free time either on my computer or with my friends. 

Career goals and dreams: I'd like to major in computer science. I'm not quite sure where I would like to work yet.

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment: Civic Engagement, to participate intentionally as a citizen in the democratic process, actively engaging in public policy and direct service.

Favorite Food: Don't have just one!

Our "Bonner II" Cohort, Class of 2016


Back row, left to right: Niani Byrd, Zee Truitt, Swai Dhanoa, John Johnson, Kevin Jeschke
Front row, left to right: Cherith Cleaves, Annie Halterman, Mariah James, Sophia Mortazavi, Brooke Malloy



Chesterfield, VA

Cosby High School



About Niani…

I love watching movies, reading, hanging out with friends, and participating in community service.  Primarily, I plan to become an attorney, and then eventually run for elected office.  My even larger dream job would be to become either Supreme Court Justice or a United Nations Ambassador.  I moved to Chesterfield, Virginia from New York at the young age of nine.  For as long as I can remember, my parents instilled in me strong Christian values of leadership and giving.  That, coupled with a desire for helping others in need, instigated my love for community service.  I wanted to become a Bonner because I wanted to be a part of a community filled with students that enjoy giving back as much as I do am glad to be given the opportunity by being a Bonner Service Scholar.        


First, I am elated to continue my community service in college.  I have always been interested in the different cultures and traditions of the world, so I am excited to be part of the International Perspective Bonner Commitment.  I am also eager to participate in national conferences and meet other service-driven students like myself.  I want to change the lives of the people around me, and the Bonner Foundation will give me the ability to do so.


Favorite Bonner Common Commitment? International Perspective          

Favorite Food? I absolutely love pizza and buffalo chicken wings! 




Forest Park High School



About Cherith…

I like to read and write poetry.  I also enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, watching movies and shopping.  I plan to major in communications studies and work in either the field of public relations or marketing, and establish myself as a successful businesswoman.


As a daughter of a military member, I have lived in six states and lived in/visited 3 countries. I love to spend time with my parents and two older siblings.  As a student who moved around a lot, I know what it is like to have to start over in a new environment.  I quickly discovered my first act of service as welcoming and encouraging other new students.  This lasting experience encouraged me to get involved in other ways and eventually apply to become a Bonner. 


I am most excited to experience the different environments in which the Bonner Scholars participate and to enhance my personal gifts to help others.


Favorite Bonner Common Commitment? Community Building     

Favorite Food? Penne pasta     













Midlothian, VA

Math and Science High School at Clover Hill



About Swai…

In my spare time I love relaxing. I will play XBOX or watch T.V. If the day is nice I will grab some track buddies and do some extra practice or go play basketball.  I love hanging out with people and being around people.  I always like to laugh so I try to attend as many comedy shows as I can.  I have set really high standards for myself in life. Through the education I gain at CNU I hope to head into the pharmaceutical field.  I want to be the best Swai Dhanoa I can be and hopefully in that I can be the best pharmacist and more importantly the best person I can be.


I was born in India in 1993 in a city called Amritsar. My family and I moved to America right before I turned four and I have been here since. We have been a bit nomadic, as I have lived in Ohio, New Jersey, Northern Virginia, my beloved Alabama, and also Richmond Virginia. I have volunteered at numerous places and most recently at Chalkley Elementary School as a mentor and serving at Bon Secours St Francis Hospital. I wanted to be a Bonner because I truly enjoy community service and Bonner is a great way for me to continue.


I am just excited to learn the true meaning of hard work. I am excited to really get to have this new experience, meet new people, and get to really expand my knowledge base. The more I learn the more prepared for anything life has to throw at me. I feel like Bonner is the best opportunity for me to really better myself.         


Favorite Bonner Common Commitment?  Community Building    

Favorite Food? This is the hardest thing for me to answer because I love to eat. I would have to say baked chicken with a lot of spices on it.          





Centreville, VA  

Westfield High School





About Annie…

I have a crazy life where I live in northern Virginia. Always doing something or going somewhere. I love to relax for fun, take a breather and go to the beach or shopping.  A lot of what I call fun most people call service.  I love helping little kids in learning a new math problem or playing a sport or just talking and having a good time.  A good night in with a few good movies and good food is always a night full of fun!  I would love to get my masters in teaching to pursue my dream to become a kindergarten teacher. I would love to teach in school in a small town and really change kids lives for the better.                


My family and I have participated in service since before I can remember. When I saw the email suggesting that I might want to become a Bonner and saw that it dealt with service activities all around Newport News area I was really excited to try and pursue it.  I can never remember a week in my life where no service was involved, whether it would be helping at a soup kitchen or a week dedicated to missions all around the world. My family and I do service together and I love that even when I leave them I get to become part of a new family and continue service with them! 


I am excited to learn about the community I am surrounded in with service. I love seeing new places because I always learn something new that is life changing. It makes me so happy to change peoples lives for the better and I have learned that service is one of the best ways to accomplish that!


Favorite Bonner Common Commitment? Spiritual Exploration     

Favorite Food? I love most fruit, but red grapes are my favorite!




Arlington, VA  

H-B Woodlawn High School



About Mariah…

I enjoy hanging out with friends, cooking, and though I'm an amateur, photography.  I'm still somewhat undecided what I'd like to do when it comes to a career, but if possible I'd like to get into public policy, more specifically, education policy.               


I come from a family very dedicated to service, so from a young age my parents instilled in me the notion that it was my duty to serve my community and those who had not been as fortunate as I, which is what originally sparked my passion for service. In high school, I was a member of National Honor Society in high school where I participated in many service projects, but I was bothered by the fact that we never really had a main focus in the service projects we participated in. What drew me to Bonner was the fact that the service was so purposeful and meaningful and goes deeper than most other service projects I've done.            


I'm excited to get deeply involved with one organization and really learn how to make change happen on many different levels. Though I did volunteer work in high school, I never did it so intensely as I will be as a Bonner Service Scholar, so it also excites me to form strong connections with the organizations and people I'm working with.


Favorite Bonner Common Commitment?  Social Justice

Favorite Food?  Pasta with any kind of sauce




Vienna, VA

James Madison High School



About Kevin…

I like to chill with friends, and lift weights, and play soccer.  My career goals are to make a lot of money through a job that allows me to serve people, and to eventually be President of the United States. (I don't have many goals, but I definitely have dreams!)  


I am the youngest of 9 kids. My dad is a pastor of a Christian non denominational church, and I have had many service experiences, but the most reoccurring would be serving a group of over 400 people by running there dining hall, and the most memorable would be giving food and coffee to poor people in D.C. on Christmas Eve.    


I would have to say I’m excited about just experiencing serving more people on a more organized level.


Favorite Bonner Common Commitment?  Community Building    

Favorite Food? Chipotle Burritos 



Ashburn, VA

Tuscarora High School



About John…

I enjoy playing sports (football and running track); working with the kids who take therapeutic riding lessons through Special Olympics; and having friends over to watch movies, play pool/ air hockey, and just hang out.  My educational and professional goals are to attend medical school and become a sports medicine physician.  I love science and have been involved with sports the majority of my life. The other thing that has been consistently part of my life is serving others. I am hoping to combine my passion in science, sports, and helping others to create a career where I can utilize all three.                                   


My parents are John and Karen Johnson. I have a younger sister, Kourtney Johnson. I have been serving with my family for over 8 years now. I have served the homeless once a month and every Christmas since 2003, visited and spent time with nursing home patients, worked as a Special Olympics Equestrian Trainer since 2009, and many other smaller volunteer activities over the years. I was motivated to become a Bonner Service Scholar because I have been giving back to my community for years now, and just because I am going off to college I don't want to stop serving and giving back. I felt that the Bonner program would allow me to be with others who have the same motivation to serve their community.       


I am really excited to work with other students who share the same level of passion to give back to their community.                                    

Favorite Bonner Common Commitment? Community Building     

Favorite Food? My favorite food is spinach chicken fettuccine alfredo pasta




Rixeyville, VA

Culpepper High School



About Brooke…

I love to play soccer and field hockey, go for long runs, bake, and coach youth soccer.  I aspire to obtain my degree in physical therapy so I can continue to help others, especially through the rehabilitation process so every person has the opportunity to live a happy, active lifestyle with a full range of their muscles and joints. Ultimately, I hope to open up my own practice with a sector that would be free for, or at minimal cost to, those truly in need.


Since a fairly young age my family encouraged me to get involved. I have had great experiences with different people from all backgrounds, including peers with special needs, youth soccer players, and those less fortunate. All people I have come across have contributed to my desires to continue being involved in making an impact in the community, and I am so thankful to be a Bonner.           


As a first year Bonner, I cannot wait to have the blessing of being surrounded by a plethora of different people, of different backgrounds and personalities. Most of all, I am excited to have the opportunity to make a great, positive impact.


Favorite Bonner Common Commitment? Community Building                 

Favorite Food? Any type of pasta!



Glen Allen, VA 

Deep Run High School



About Sophia…

I love going to the beach, exercising, shopping, and spending time with friends.  I want to either become an international lawyer or foreign affairs official so I can make a big difference.


My mom was born in Honduras and my father was born in Iran.  My mom is Spanish and Chinese and my father is Persian with some Turkish.  I have visited many countries and territories such as Honduras, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Iran, and The Netherlands.   


The Bonner program revolves around educating people and working to help improve their lives, and I want every part of that.  I believe Bonner program offers a great opportunity for my personal and academic growth. I also believe the program will benefit from my devotion to academic excellent and duty to community.


I am excited to change people’s lives for the better. I want to make a difference.


Favorite Bonner Common Commitment? International Perspective          

Favorite Food? Spaghetti!  












Hampton, VA

Hampton High School



About Zee…

For fun I play soccer, read books, hang out with friends, and watch movies. 

I would love to become a psychologist so that I can continuously help others.                       


I come from a single parent home in which my mother has taught me how to work hard and how to be an independent person. My service experiences come from my participation in the International Baccalaureate program at my high school. I have worked with the homeless, with special needs students at my school, and I have volunteered to help with school events. I was motivated to become a Bonner because I would love to continue to use community service to not only help others, but to grow as a person.


I am excited to work with a wide variety of people. I am really excited to learn how to help those in need.


Favorite Bonner Common Commitment? Community Building     

Favorite Food? Strawberries

Our "Bonner III" Cohort, Class of 2017


Back row, left to right: Siomara Michelle Flores, Ben Miller, Asa Townsend, Jim Leist, Kendall Thompson, Dominique Parrish

Front row, left to right: Keante Eppes, Eva Melendez, Alexandria Schweiger, Jona Qorri