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Bonner Scholars Program Senior Spotlight

Senior Class Bonner Scholars at Spelman College

The Bonner Scholars Program Celebrates the Class of 2024

This spring, Spelman College's Class of 2024 Bonner Scholars -- students driven by a passion for service and a commitment to holistic learning -- shared the results of the yearlong service projects they implemented within our local community. By bridging the gap between community engagement and academic exploration, the students are not only empowered to give back but to also grow personally and academically.

"The class of 2024 Bonner Scholar cohort started their Spelman Journey during a high quarantine period of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Some would have used these unprecedented circumstances to step back from community service but instead these Scholars leaned into their commitment to serve," explained  Jilo Tisdale, director of the Bonner Office of Civic Engagement at Spelman.

Bonner Scholars graduating in the class of 2024 served deeply in non-profit and government agencies that support residents in the southwest Atlanta neighborhoods near Spelman's campus and, the broader metro Atlanta area. They completed research that will contribute to the development of national policy in Education Equity and Anti-Poverty efforts. and they served abroad while studying in Africa, Europe and Asia. In the face of great adversity and during the seemingly endless transition to what would become our 'new normal' the Spelman College, class of 2024 Bonner Scholar cohort remained undaunted. I couldn't be any prouder of them.

About Our Bonner Scholars Program

The Bonner Scholar Program at Spelman College is tailored to identify and support service-oriented students, and offers financial assistance based on individual need, ensuring that all scholars have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals while making meaningful contributions to society. Moreover, the program's emphasis on leadership development equips participants with invaluable skills that transcend the confines of academia, preparing them for success in their chosen fields.

Meet the Class of 2024 Bonner Scholars

Spelman College Bonner Scholar Capstone Projects
  • Spelman Sloan Scholar Aleisha Sawyer
    Aleisha Sawyer

    Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
    Major: Economics 

    Senior Capstone Project: My senior capstone project, "Minimizing Achievement Gaps in Metro Atlanta Students," combines economic and educational development. I help teach and create a curriculum to minimize the achievement gap in middle and high school students. 

    Post-Graduation Plans: I was recently named Schwarzman Scholar and will pursue a one-year fully funded masters of Global Affairs in Beijing, China, in the fall of 2024.  Upon completing my master’s, I want to pursue a Ph.D. in economic analysis and policy or organizational management. 
  • Francesca McDaniel
    Francesca McDaniel

    Hometown: East Point, Georgia
    Major: Biology

    Senior Capstone Project: For my capstone, "Engage.Empower.Elevate," I work with a Girl Scout group of 6th graders at a middle school. My capstone aims to uplift middle school-aged girls by doing exercises and projects with them that instill confidence, improve self-concept, encourage them to think positively about themselves and what they do, and encourage them to uplift one another. 

    Post-Graduation Plans: After graduating, I will take a gap year to acquire patient care experience as a medical scribe. I will then apply for physician assistant graduate school for the Fall 2025 cycle.
  • Kristen Rias
    Kristen Rias

    Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
    Major: Political Science

    Senior Capstone Project: Kristen’s Kloset is a clothing organization I created at 16 years old, in which I collect gently used new clothing for school-aged foster, homeless, and underprivileged children. For capstone purposes, I partnered with HJ Russel West End Academy and donated clothing to their school's closet. I also gave donations to “On the House” in support of a senior initiative.

    Post-Graduation Plans: I will attend graduate school in June 2024 and pursue a master's degree in urban education.
  • Kelsey Henderson
    Kelsey Henderson

    Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
    Major: English
    Minor: Film Studies and Visual Culture

    Senior Capstone Project:
     My capstone project was creating and developing the Re:IMAGINE HBCU Fellowship. The Re:IMAGINE HBCU Fellowship Program is a creative engagement fellowship exclusive to the Atlanta University Center that allows ten scholars to participate in a service collaboration with Re:IMAGINE ATL’s Education Department for the opportunity to receive career development resources provided by the organization and their community partners. 

    Post-Graduation Plans: I will attend the University of Southern California as a member of the Fall 2024 Peter Stark Producing MFA Program cohort. I received a scholarship through the George Lucas Family Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity and will graduate in the Class of 2026.
  • sinclaire hoyt
    Sinclaire Hoyt

    Hometown: Houston, Texas 
    Major: Computer Science
    Minor: Documentary Filmmaking 

    Senior Capstone Project: I created the Spelman Esports team, the first all-Black, all-female collegiate competitive game team. I created this team to inspire Black girls to see themselves within a space that was not created with them in mind.

    Post-Graduation Plans: Working as a software engineer.
  • Alaira Blackwell
    Alaira Blackwell

    Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
    Major: Political Science
    Minor: Education Studies

    Senior Capstone Project: My capstone project, Civic Education Leadership Academy, covers civic education for high school girls, specifically girls at Booker T. Washington High. The Civic Education project empowers youth by equipping them with the skills and knowledge to be the next generation of change makers and critical voters. They are ultimately well-informed and well-prepared to make a difference in their communities and on the world. At the end, they create a public policy proposal to lobby their chosen issue and compete against groups within the program. They walk away with leadership, presentation and research skills.

    Post-Graduation Plans: I will attend Brown University and obtain a Master’s in Education Policy.
  • Miriam Olajide
    Miriam Olajide

    Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
    Major: Health Science

    Senior Capstone Project: My capstone project, aptly named "The Little Blue Box," addresses the pressing need for access to essential hygiene products within underserved communities and under-resourced populations in southwest Atlanta. Partnering with my Bonner sister, we've gathered hygiene products to assemble care packages tailored to alleviate this challenge. These boxes contain vital toiletry items, ensuring individuals can maintain personal hygiene even while navigating their daily lives. Through this initiative, we aim to alleviate hardship by providing practical support to those in need, particularly benefiting our service site, the Good Samaritan Health Clinic.

    Post-Graduation Plans: After graduating from Spelman, I will be working full-time as a medical scribe, enhancing my resume and preparing for graduate school applications in the upcoming cycles, further pursuing my goal of becoming a healthcare professional. 
  • Faith Hodo
    Pearla Faith Hodo

    Hometown: Griffin, Georgia
    Major: Health Science

    Senior Capstone Project: My capstone project, 'The Little Blue Box,' is a heartfelt endeavor focused on supporting underserved communities and under-resourced populations in southwest Atlanta. In collaboration with a fellow Bonner member, we've gathered hygiene products to distribute to those facing challenges accessing everyday essentials, particularly personal hygiene items. Our mission is to ease this burden by assembling boxes filled with toiletry essentials, ensuring individuals can uphold their personal hygiene with dignity, even amidst their daily struggles. Through this initiative, I am privileged to give back to our service site, the Good Samaritan Health Clinic, and contribute positively to our community. 

    Post-Graduation Plans: After graduating from Spelman, I will be entering medical school at Mercer University School of Medicine.
  • Alexis Campbell
    Alexis Campbell

    Hometown: Fayetteville, Georgia
    Major: History with a concentration in African History

    Senior Capstone Project: My capstone project is Spelnotes, an initiative inspiring youth to find a place in classical music.

    Post-Graduation Plans: I will be entering the Fullbright Program to continue my education in Taiwan. The Fulbright Program is the United States government’s flagship international educational and cultural exchange program, where students and scholars from over 160 countries have the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research and exchange ideas globally. 
  • Ryann Phillips
    Ryann Phillips

    Hometown: Lithonia, Georgia
    Major: Sociology

    Senior Capstone Project: As the chair of the Empower Our Families Initiative for the “Sweet” Mu Pi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., I have coordinated and executed many service events for the metro Atlanta community throughout the 2023-2024 school year. These events include but are not limited to: Skool Daze (a school supplies drive for teachers), Back to the Basics (a book drive and discussion about American childhood literacy rates), and Mission Ivy: End Childhood Hunger (a food drive for elementary school students).

    Post-Graduation Plans: I plan to attend Syracuse University as a Newhouse Fellow in the Magazine, News, and Digital Journalism program.
  • Jordyn Sheats
    Jordyn Sheats

    Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
    Major: Psychology on a Pre-Dental Track

    Senior Capstone Project: My capstone project is called Empowering Play: Educating Youth on the Risk of CTE. My capstone project aims to enhance awareness and understanding of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) among youth football communities. By disseminating crucial information about the risks, symptoms and prevention strategies associated with CTE, we aim to foster a safer playing environment.

    Post-Graduation Plans: My current plans are to go to law school or take a gap year to continue working at the law firm where I currently work. I am also considering going to dental school if I find that law isn't for me.