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Building Community: Peyton Powers ’18 Bonner Scholar helps to plan the Fall Bonner Congress Meeting, taking place on W&L's campus Oct. 14-16.

“I hope that participants leave with a better understanding of the importance of King’s vision of beloved community.”

Each fall, representatives from more than 60 Bonner Programs at schools across the country gather to sharpen their skills and learn about resources that will help them take their ideas for civic and community engagement into action. Known as Bonner Congress, this year’s event will be held at Washington and Lee over Reading Days and will be the third year junior Peyton Powers has attended.

Peyton’s past Bonner Congress experiences have landed him a strong role in helping plan this year’s meeting, particularly in the area of programming around the theme “Beloved Community,” the concept of a society based on justice, equal opportunity and love of one’s fellow human beings popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I hope that participants leave with a better understanding of the importance of King’s vision of beloved community, but more importantly just their own beloved community and how a lot of the work Bonners are doing is aiming towards fostering a better world where a lot of injustices are minimized,” said Peyton. “Taking that philosophy home would prompt better opportunities to recognize their community and their role in it.”

Peyton sought a spot in W&L’s Bonner Program because he wanted to get involved in the community and to get answers to some of the tough questions he has about community involvement. He’s focused his Bonner service at W&L on youth, which has led him to seek a career focused on youth empowerment, education and mentorship.

“Bonner has definitely sculpted my academic career,” added the economics major. “I don’t think my education policy minor would have come to fruition had it not been for Bonner. I also appreciate the diversity of opinion and thought that comes from being a part of the Bonner Program.”

As a Bonner intern, Peyton manages the first-year Bonner class and coordinates their class meetings. On campus he also is chairman of the Voting Regulations Board and vice chair of logistics for Fancy Dress.

Peyton isn’t the only one who is excited about the upcoming event. Marisa Charley, who coordinates W&L’s Bonner Program, was a member of the Bonner Program at Allegheny College (PA) and knows what an honor it is to host this national event. She’s also eager to hear the keynote address, which will be given by MK Asante, an author, award-winning filmmaker, rapper and professor of creative writing and film at Morgan State University.

Asante will speak at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons. His talk is free and open to the public.

“I’m most excited about the opportunity to share more about the National Bonner Program with W&L, and more about W&L with the National Bonner Program,” she said. “With the help of our colleagues on campus and off, we have planned great workshops, a networking session, interactive social events, and an outstanding Saturday morning keynote.