Autumn Harvey, a junior at Berea College majoring in history, is a student leader who uses her skills, knowledge, and creativity to promote dialogue and action, preparing students to engage with pressing social issues. Autumn provides a strong example of the Berea College experience of "learning, labor, and service." A Bonner Scholar, Autumn works in the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service (CELTS), where she trains and supervises first-year students who have committed to making service and civic engagement an integral part of their college careers. Autumn has focused much of her academic, labor (work-study), and community-engaged service on mentoring other young leaders in developing their abilities to promote dialogue and build diverse community. Autumn demonstrates that we can better understand the present by understanding what came before, and that we can prepare for the future by supporting and mentoring those around us now.
My passion for service began when I was a kid making sack suppers for children who didn’t have enough food at home. As I continued to study Spanish, my passion led me to tutoring ESL learners so that they could earn their high school diplomas and GEDs. Although I enjoyed giving back to the community I grew up in, I quickly realized that there was one common trait among the populations that I served: they were all people of color. Becoming a history major gave me the tools to understand how systems were intentionally put in place to keep racial minorities in this country marginalized. Being a history major has challenged me to not do service simply because it makes me “feel good.” History not only has taught me how to understand oppressive systems, it has also given me the ability to teach others that these systems are oppressive. As the senior first-year coordinator for the Bonner Scholars program, I have made it my mission to incorporate history into each training that I facilitate so that the first-year students I work with can start their own path to strengthening their communities and fighting oppression.