Convergence is more than just an academic project between two distinct areas of study. The Bradley Fellows Program is an example of how convergence can represent another side of partnerships. It also gives students the opportunity to develop leadership skills through service.
Unlike classroom collaboration, the Fellows Program encourages students to discover something that excites them and use that passion to learn skills that will transfer to their future.
“This program pushes students to understand what they can do for the community and appreciate what the community is doing for them,” said Ben Wright, assistant director of leadership and service. “The student is not a volunteer but more of an instrument of creation and development for the agency itself.”
Through this holistic approach, students discover and build soft skills and are able to employ theories they learn in the classroom into practice. This allows them to form their own identity and values as a person and a professional. Students can then use that understanding to enhance their careers and their communities once they graduate.
Civil engineering major Rhome Apton ’20 volunteers with both Big Brothers Big Sisters and at Whittier Elementary. He’s one of 90 college students involved in the program’s presence at Whittier Primary School near Bradley’s campus.
Growing up with divorced parents, Apton saw an opportunity to be the kind of role model he lacked as a child. Apton found time spent helping with homework, hanging out and occasionally joining Whittier students for games at recess valuable.
“Those are high-energy kids who love life, even though they’re fighting a lot of battles,” he said. “It’s heartwarming to see them grow over time despite what they face.”
The unfamiliar and challenging opportunity helped to increase Apton’s levels of empathy and understanding.
“You're out there working with people from all walks of life so you can learn from that experience,” Apton said. I am able to transfer that to what could possibly be encountered in communities with various socio-economic standing and multi-generational groups.
“As an engineering major, I do a lot of bookwork, but that’s not like being in an actual company with actual products and clients. The ability to work with others on a team will be crucial when I go into the field.”
— Matt Hawkins and Bailey Longman ’21