Christopher Newport University's Bonner Service Scholars Program was launched in 2010 to provide deserving students access to a CNU education and the opportunities, resources and skills to serve humanity. Through this four-year, national program, Bonner Scholars, many of whom are first-generation college attendees, serve a total of more than 300 hours each year.
Senior De’Vante Allen came to CNU as a Bonner Scholar from his hometown of Woodbridge, Virginia. Allen, a psychology major, serves at the Arc of the Virginia Peninsula (now VersAbility Resources), which helps the intellectually and developmentally disabled live, work and thrive in the community. Allen assists Sarah Bowman ('01), VersAbility's marketing director and CNU alumna, with a variety of fundraising and awareness events. “Being a Bonner has definitely been the highlight of my time here at CNU,” he says. “My Bonner family is amazing, and the relationships I have formed with them will be forever.”
Put yourself out there, talk to people and be open-minded. I was super shy in high school, but I came to CNU with the mindset that I wanted to be engaged, and that is exactly what happened.
Allen’s projects at VersAbility have included, among others, producing a promotional video for VersAbility programs, as well as researching educational programs and helping to develop a mobile app that allows VersAbility clients to explore their community, learn money management and social interaction, and do other activities. As a Bonner Scholar, Allen travels to national gatherings and conferences to train and plan with like-minded peers, and he earns a scholarship to support his studies. Bonner Scholars also help coordinate the Center for Community Engagement’s service tracks, areas of outreach specialization in which all CNU students may serve.
At the Center, Allen works closely with Assistant Director Brad Brewer (’02) to optimize his Bonner work. “De’Vante is not only an incredible student and example to his peers, but he also possesses a humility and compassion that compel him to care for special-needs individuals through our partnership with VersAbility.” And he knows Allen’s CNU education and work in the Bonner program and will lead to a bright future. “I have no doubt De’Vante will succeed and positively impact any organization fortunate enough to hire him after graduation,” Brewer says.
For Bowman, it is the breadth of experience CNU and the Bonner program have afforded Allen that are his biggest asset at VersAbility. "It is a true pleasure to work with De’Vante," she says. "It has been touching to see how well he interacts with our individuals with disabilities, and the care he shows each person. I am so excited thinking about De’Vante’s bright future and envisioning the numerous ways he is going to make a difference in our world."
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