Samantha Ha ’16
The Bonner experience completely defined Samantha Ha’s Ursinus experience. She served for four years as a volunteer and site coordinator for CASA, Creative Afterschool Alternatives, an “amazing” creative arts program for middle school students. She was the facilitator of creative activities, like poetry, writing and even athletics.
One student in particular had a profound impact on her. “She had a traumatic childhood and she shared her experiences with me,” Ha recalls. “She told me I was the first person to whom she ever told her story. I told her that she was strong for being able to endure the difficult times and maintain her happiness. She said that was the first time anyone ever said something like that to her. There are kids out there who don’t have adult role models, or don’t have adults who believe in them. That was the moment that made me realize what I want to do.”
Sometimes, she adds, “you feel disheartened that you can only do so much and what you can do doesn’t really change the grand scheme of things, like poverty and educational disparities. But in that moment, I realized that you really can have an impact on individuals. That’s where the movement starts.”
Ha has a passion for forming these interactions and relationships with people. That one moment fueled a career path pursuing education. She is a program associate at the Bonner Foundation, where she does a lot of campus outreach and acts as a resource and a liaison for many schools. As a recent Ursinus graduate, she believes she has a unique perspective on how to connect to students, and she intends to remain connected to civic engagement in whatever she does in the future.
“Service isn’t the whole solution,” she concedes, “but it’s a way for people to unite for something they care about and it’s a way to make more people aware of the issues impacting others. It’s a collaborative effort. My Ursinus experience has impacted me in more ways than I can ever express and it gave me a chance to help make a difference in the lives of others.”