By Lian Bunny, ’17
St. Bonaventure University alumna Simone Bernstein, ’14, will be inducted into the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame along with George Washington Carver and Eric Greitens.
Inductees to the Hall of Fame are citizens with a connection to the state of Missouri who serve as examples of global citizens by defining the essence of public affairs and who consistently act to benefit others. Up to six recipients are honored annually, including one legacy award, which is being awarded to Carver this year.
The celebratory ceremony will take place on Friday, April 17, at Missouri State in Springfield, Mo.
In addition to the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame, Bernstein is a 2010 L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth, is on the 2012 Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur list, is one of Glamour’s 2013 Top 10 College Women and is a 2014 Traditional Home Magazine Classic Woman.
Bernstein, of St. Louis, Mo., majored in social entrepreneurship and altruism at St. Bonaventure, an individualized major to suit her interests. She is a Fulbright Student Scholar in Toronto, learning new research techniques to analyze and collect electroencephalogram (EEG) data.
“With multiple interests, the amazing faculty at St. Bonaventure University helped me create an interdisciplinary major,” said Bernstein. “With the Franciscan values and tradition of service, St. Bonaventure provides numerous ways for students to get involved in volunteer work on campus and throughout the community. Through this major, I enjoyed exploring reasons why individuals engage in volunteering and finding ways to promote service to those students who were not currently involved in the community.”
Bernstein said she noticed young people struggled to find volunteer opportunities that didn’t hold age restrictions. In 2009, she and her brother created VolunTEEN Nation, a volunteer-run, non-profit organization.
“VolunTEEN Nation provides a vehicle for nonprofit organizations to promote their cause,” said Bernstein. “We are helping promote organizations that have programs for teen volunteers, their mission, and the volunteer opportunities they offer. The site categorizes the various organizations that offer volunteer opportunities for students by state, zip code, age group and area of interest.”
The site, http://www.VolunTEENnation.org, lists more than 8,300 volunteer opportunities and has engaged more than 93,500 young people in more than a million hours of service. The volunteering possibilities include teaching violin to students in low-income school districts, growing gardens to donate produce to food banks and providing technology lessons to older adults, as well as many other volunteer roles in their communities.
Bernstein encourages college students, as well as teenagers, to get involved.
“We are a generation ready to solve problems in the community,” said Bernstein. “Anyone can volunteer at any age. Everyone can make a difference. If anyone wants to get involved in organizing national service projects and writing service related articles, we would love for more St. Bonaventure students to get involved in VolunTEEN Nation.”
Also being honored with Bernstein is Carver, a master in chemistry, botany, mycology (the study of fungi), music, herbalism, art, cooking and massage. He was accepted as an art major at Simpson College in Iowa, where he was the only African American.
Beginning in 1903, he worked in agriculture but aimed to free African American farmers and the South from the tyranny of cotton. In 1921, Carver delivered his testimony before the U.S. Congress House committee, debating a peanut tariff bill. In July of 1943, Congress designed the George Washington Carver National Monument as the first national park to honor an African American scientist, educator and humanitarian.
Joining Bernstein and Carver at the Hall of Fame induction is Greitens, who studied ethics, philosophy and public policy at Duke University. Selected as a Rhodes and a Truman Scholar, he attended the University at Oxford where he earned a master’s degree and his doctorate.
“It is such an honor to receive [the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame] award,” said Bernstein. “I am so proud to be a St. Bonaventure alum and recognized next to two other incredible people who’ve made a difference.”
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #3 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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