Melanie Maldonado, a sophomore and second year Bonner Leader at High Point University, is an exemplary leader in social change both on campus and in our community. Melanie harnesses her passion for women's rights, health, and hunger to create conversations about social justice issues that translate into action. In her last two years as a Bonner Leader, Melanie has grown tremendously as an event planner and uses her skills to create programming that creates space for open dialogue across diverse perspectives. Melanie recognizes the heightened impact of using a multifaceted approach to address social issues, an approach that includes awareness, advocacy, and action. Her outreach spans planning socially conscious documentary screenings and panel discussions with esteemed community activists, coordinating campus-wide donation drives to raise awareness while directly giving back to community partner organizations, and supporting the YWCA's Women's Resource Center director in developing programs that respond to identified community need. Through building the capacity of community partners, creating and engaging in conversation amongst peers, and navigating the complex intersections of social issues both on campus and in our community, Melanie has emerged and continues to grow as civically engaged leader at High Point University.
Women's Rights, health, and poverty have always been on my radar, and being in the Bonner Leader Program at High Point University has allowed me to not only raise awareness of these issues, but take action to address them. I have been able to serve at the YWCA and work in the Women's Resource Center helping create and organize workshops for community members to attend. I am currently in the process of planning a women's self-defense course and a diaper drive for the Baby Basics store at the YWCA. I have also planned a movie screening and hosted a panel discussion after that makes people aware of poverty in our own community of High Point. The goal of the panel discussion was to not only make people aware of poverty, but help them find ways they can help alleviate the burdens of poverty. As for health, I am volunteering with FoodCorps at a local elementary school to help expose children to healthy foods that they can grow on their own. Healthy habits start at a young age, and I want to be the one to make that difference in their lives and in the life of our community.