Dana Wakeman, a junior at Siena College, is a community-engaged leader active in the Capital Region of New York State. Dana has participated in Siena’s Bonner Service Leaders Program—a community engaged leadership development program—since her first semester at Siena. During her first two years as a Bonner, Dana’s site was Catholic Charities of Albany. During that time she helped clients find employment and housing. She also created a diversity training and transgender policy to ensure all clients are treated with dignity regardless of their identities. This year she moved to a leadership position as a Bonner Program Associate. In this role, she is responsible for the recruitment of the Bonner first-year students and training and development for her peers in the program. Next year Dana will be conducting a Bonner capstone project exploring the impact of drug courts on individuals, their community at large, and the broader criminal justice system. In addition to her Bonner leadership roles, Dana also serves on the executive boards of Siena’s Political Science and Pre-Law Clubs and tutors her peers in the Political Science department. She balances all of these commitments while excelling as a member of the college’s Honors Program.
I am a Political Science major as well as a Bonner Service Leader at Siena College, which has allowed me to study various social justice and political issues. A major aspect of the Bonner curriculum focuses on building the skills necessary to identify the root causes of issues in order to recognize the problems and determine the appropriate solutions. Learning these skills helped me at my previous service site, Catholic Charities, as I created a diversity training and a transgender policy to ensure that all clients are treated with dignity regardless of their identities. I also brought these experiences into my Political Science education this past summer when I assisted a Political Science professor in conducting research about the opioid epidemic as a public issue. We did a content analysis of over eight hundred candidates’ online profiles to look into how the candidates chose to frame the issue. From this we discerned where the policymakers potential solutions stemmed from. All of this experience has led me to become confident in my abilities as I have both worked on projects myself, and analyzed the work of others which has helped me learn how to develop strategies for addressing public problems.