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Giving Back, Paying it Forward

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Over the last four years, the Class of 2020 worked consistently to support the communities in and around Oberlin via the Bonner Center, courses focused on community-based learning, or independent projects. Seven members of our class are graduating as Bonner Scholars, having contributed nearly 9,000 hours of collective service during their time as Obies.  The work of these students provides a snapshot of the ways in which our Class has become involved in the surrounding community. Programs and organizations supported by graduating seniors include America Reads/Counts, Girls in Motion, the Ninde Scholars Program, Get With the Program, Kendal at Oberlin, Oberlin Community Services, El Centro Volunteer Initiative, the Children’s Holiday Concert, and Firelands Association for the Visual Arts.

In addition to their service in Oberlin and the surrounding communities — as well as their own academic, athletic, and artistic achievements — the Class of 2020 will also be remembered for all they did to support their peers and mentor younger students. Associate Dean of Students Dana Hamdan, a mentor to many members of the graduating class, likes to talk about “Obies helping Obies” — and that ethos exactly sums up this graduating class. In their work as Peer Advising Leaders, ConPALs, Resident Assistants, sports team captains, Writing Associates, OWLS Leaders, Executive Function Tutors, Peer Mentors, Peer Listeners, and members of the Yeworkwha Belachew Center for Dialogue, this class remained committed to supporting their peers, both inside and outside the classroom.

This class was also active in supporting future Obies who we may never know. We supported the All in for Oberlin campaign — both last year and during this year’s pandemic-impacted campaign, which still achieved record levels of giving to causes that matter to us and that will serve to create new opportunities for untold future generations of Oberlin students.

What makes Oberlin students great is that we constantly utilize our skills to give back. Whether that is through programs like Play Like A Girl Day, which is hosted by athletics and celebrates women in sports, or the annual Day of Service, which many graduating seniors have helped organize and taken leadership roles in, or leadership in residence halls and in the classroom, we as a class have made a difference. As we celebrate our accomplishments at Oberlin, it is important that we maintain this spirit and continue giving back to the communities where we find ourselves next. We must continue to learn about the communities that we benefit from and find ways in which we can give back as much as we gain.