From the president

Halle Gensler, a Berea College sophomore double majoring in Peace and Social Justice Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, is an excellent representative of Berea’s model of “Learning, Labor, and Service.” Halle is a Bonner Scholar who is committed to advocacy and action, to mentoring individuals and building supportive organizations, and to speaking up for human rights and amplifying cultural expressions. She holds a work-study (labor) position that focuses on peer mentorship and empowerment of fellow students who are also engaged with community service and civic engagement. She focuses her co-curricular time on activities that amplify the arts, Appalachian cultures, and advocacy for human rights. Halle demonstrates commitment to building supportive professional relationships and positive work environments, with the goal of increasing individuals’ capacity for thriving while collaborating and serving. Her focus on human rights like health care, mental health resources, reproductive rights, and supportive work environments illustrates that through individual and community development, we can also enhance individuals’ and organizations’ capacities for implementing positive social change.

Lyle Roelofs


Berea College


Personal Statement

Building a community based on understanding and compassion has been the foundation of my work as an advocate and supervisor. Before Berea, I was taught the importance of team building through understanding personal hardships in Operation Snowball and AmeriCorps VISTA. Both organizations centered on supporting people with mental health struggles from minor to severe experiences. Regardless of the intensity of mental hardship, I realized the vitality to have open conversations to create a sustainable, caring community. The development of social movements since COVID-19 emphasizes that underserved populations navigate unjust, prejudiced processes in significant margins. However, I believe communities can overcome certain polarizations based on mutual understanding and affirmation. To engage in all areas of civic engagement, we need to create and maintain compassionate relationships in a community. As a student coordinator for the First-Year Bonner Scholars, I intentionally instill empathetic values and space for open dialogues, which is why I continue to choose leadership positions highlighting peer mentorship and capacity building. The process is gradual; however, rebuilding meaningful connections for future advocates is foundational for larger-scale change-making. I chose my majors to understand unjust institutionalization and create action to abolish systemic issues, to invoke the change we wish to see.

Halle Gensler

Double Major: Peace & Social Justice Studies, and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

Berea College