Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Student Experience
Diversity Digest Volume 9, Number 2

Diversity Digest
Volume 10,
Number 1

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Campus-Community Involvement
Student Leadership: Making a Difference in the World
Access to Education, Opportunity to Serve
Berea College: Learning, Labor, and Service
A Developmental and Capacity-Building Model for Community Partnerships
The Power of a Sustained Relationship between Community Partners and Colleges and Universities
Faculty Involvement
Prequel to Civic Engagement: An African American Studies Research Seminar
Service Learning and Policy Change
Facilitating Student Growth as Citizens: A Developmental Model for Community-Engaged Learning
Student Experience
An Intentional and Comprehensive Student Development Model
Bonner: More Than a Model, a Lived Experience
Relationships First
Commitment to a Cause
Institutional Leadership
Preparing to Serve
Checklist from the President’s Chair
Curricular Transformation
LifeWorks and the Commons: A Model for General Education
The Case for Studying Poverty
Engaging with Difference Matters: Longitudinal Outcomes of the Cocurricular Bonner Scholars Program
Resources for Civic Engagement
Serving, Voting, and Speaking Out: Bonner Students Reflect on Civic Engagement

Commitment to a Cause

By Tocarra Cash, former Bonner scholar, Spelman College

Bonner scholars from Spelman, a historically black women’s college, develop leadership skills.

Bonner scholars from Spelman, a historically black women’s college, develop leadership skills.

Upon entering the Bonner scholars program as a bright-eyed freshman, eager to represent Spelman College, I had no idea that my perspective would change so much. The Bonner scholars program played a significant role in that transformation. I always knew I loved helping people, but the idea of effecting widespread change as just one person seemed next to impossible. Two years later, I realize that while I may still be one person, one who requires the healthy dose of joy that comes from helping people, I can effect change—however small it may be.

I believe everyone should generate an interest in an issue concerning our global community and devote part of their lives (if not the majority of it) to being part of the solution. Through service, I have realized that I have an intense connection with the socially under-recognized issue of domestic violence. Domestic violence is something that I have wanted to change since I was a child witnessing my mother being subjected to such abuse. I truly believe that when you are angry about something that is unjust, it can give you a strong desire to make change. This is not easy, since internalizing learned violence must be unlearned. Like a missing puzzle piece, my service has connected me to a deep level of change. It has given me a vehicle through which to rechannel my anger into transformative social change.

Through volunteering at the Victim-Witness Assistance Program, I connected with women who work toward being empowered enough to resolve their position as domestic abuse victims or witnesses. It has definitely led me, and continues to lead me, into the realm of public life. I consider myself a full-fledged advocate for annihilating violence toward women in my local community. This allows me to cross all social barriers that separate people by race, religion, sexuality, or socioeconomic status; I am able to charge through all those steel doors of categorization and to discover the vulnerable hearts of women in need. I consider all women my sisters, and feel deep compassion for my fellow community members.

Women are equally part of the foundation of families, and families are what make up most communities. We all know a building, or a community, cannot stand on a cracked and deteriorating foundation. These pillars of our community, however, are neglected, yet people in power who can effect social change through the media, representation, lawmaking, and by example simply turn the other way, as if nothing is wrong if women are mistreated physically, sexually, or emotionally. My service has given me the strength, courage, and voice to say, “Something is happening, whether you want to recognize it or not.” Knowing this, I feel propelled into a public and political life. I feel passionately committed to passing much stronger domestic violence laws in Congress; seeing this through is a long-term goal in my life.

It takes a lot of courage to admit there is a problem, but it takes ten times that much to solve it. My involvement through service has given me the willpower to commit wholeheartedly to work toward solving the problem of domestic violence. I hope that in years to come, I can continue to grow in strength, courage, and wisdom so I might help eradicate domestic violence, a major social issue that has affected many women’s lives, including my own.

Questions, comments, and suggested resources should be directed to campbell@aacu.org.
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