Athens State Student Serves the Community through Bonner Leader Program

In 2021 Athens State adopted the Bonner Leader Program, an initiative that places students at non-profit organizations in North and Central Alabama.

When a student is selected for the Bonner Leader Program they are paired with a non-profit or Community Learning Partner to complete their service hours. One of the Bonners, Gabrielle “Gabby” Harris, is partnered with Learn to Read and the Boys and Girls Club of Ardmore while she serves in the program.

Learn to Read is a non-profit organization that offers an after-school tutoring program for children ages 6-15 who are struggling with reading and mathematics. Other services are English as a second language, basic literacy for ages 16+, conversational Spanish, a summer youth literacy program and a computer-assisted learning lab. Harris assists Learn to Read with tutoring, mentoring, fundraising and event organization.

The Boys and Girls Club of Ardmore provides after-school programs to grades K-12. Harris works with the staff at the Boys and Girls Club on trauma-informed professional development training. This strengthens the staff and volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club so they are able to foster an environment that supports and understands the connection between trauma and behavioral health.

Harris’s service to these non-profit organizations allows her to utilize the skills and education she is gaining as a student at Athens State for the betterment of the community around her. It is students like Gabby Harris that bring to life the mission of the University: changing the lives of students so they, in turn, can change the face of Alabama.

The Bonner Program has helped me grow professionally by increasing the capacity of the skills I already have while giving me the chance to learn new skills, grow, and develop as a person.

Gabby Harris referring to her time as a Bonner Leader

The Bonner Leader Program is a nationally recognized fellowship program for students that have financial need, exhibit a capacity for leadership development and show an interest in community service. Current or prospective students at Athens State can apply for the program through May 31, 2023, at

Gabby Harris Bonner Leader Program
Gabrielle “Gabby” Harris
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