Service work benefits local education programs
by Jackie Castellese
The Heart Behind the Oval contest, sponsored by the Ford Blue Oval Network, provides three students each year with a scholarship toward their schooling as well as a $1,000 grant to be used toward their service work.
Madonna students Nicole Carlin and Lorraine Bonkowski are two of the top five contestants vying for 1st prize this year.
“The grant can be used for service work, and the service work where we go, they don’t have much money,” said Carlin, biology. “I figured if I had $1,000, I could at least do something with it.”
Carlin volunteers at Saint Vincent Sarah Fisher to teach kids about science and encourage them to consider a future in science.
“We’re just trying to increase [the field] period and just hoping they will want to pursue science or give them the idea that college is for them,” said Carlin.
To be eligible for the contest, a student must participate in a Ford Motor Company-sponsored educational program of their choosing. The service work allows students to share the enthusiasm they have for their college major.
“I was thinking to use the grant money to help our community partner build some fruit and vegetable gardens on campus that their students would be able to work on throughout the year,” said Bonkowski, dietetics. “It would help to teach them about working together, nutrition, where their food comes from, and overall healthy living.”
Bonkowski’s passion for food and nutrition led her to the Autism Spectrum Disorder Adult Program, where she teaches about the benefits of good nutrition.
“I was always very interested in the clinical aspect of nutrition but wanted more experience in the community part of it, and I thought this was a great volunteer opportunity to do so,” said Bonkowski.
Watching the development of their students is something both Carlin and Bonkowski enjoy.
“I love seeing the kids’ reactions,” said Carlin. “I love seeing their expressions when you make something explode, and they’re so curious and they want to bring it home and show their parents.”
Bonkowski worked with her students last year as well so she has been able to watch as they learn and grow.
“Many of them are so much more confident in the kitchen and it makes me feel as though I have really made a difference in these students’ lives,” said Bonkowski.
With the $1,000 grant, the winners will be able to continue doing what they love.
“Experiments never go the way you plan, and there’s always reasons to fix it,” said Carlin. “I just like science, and I’m not very good at writing.”