Shyeila "Shy" Bowers, a junior at Berea College, is a hard-working and proactive, positive student leader and undergraduate scholar. Shy uses her skills, knowledge, and positive, community-building approaches to promote dialogue and action to address pressing social issues. As a Diversity Peer Education Team (DPET) team member, Shy collaborates with peers and mentors to prepare, deliver, and evaluate inclusive peer education workshops, called TRUTH (True Racial Understanding through Honest) Talks. TRUTH Talks are programs facilitated by students for members of the campus and broader community, during which participants are invited to participate in critical dialogue about controversial topics. Shy's work as a Bonner Scholar and member of the Diversity Peer Education Team reflects her commitment to build community, promote understanding, and address pressing social issues. Shy reflects an attitude of kindness in her interpersonal reactions, while remaining committed to empowering herself and others to discuss challenging social topics in a productive way, ultimately working to take action for positive social change.
For much of my existence, I've resided in communities often deficient in resources, but rich with compassion. Volunteerism and adopting a life of selfless service were values instilled in me at a young age, and I recall volunteering; however, I realized my efforts were acute, temporary solutions to the systemic issues that plagued my community and others across the globe. So, I began seeking methods for transformative action. At Berea College, I was selected as a Bonner Scholar, a service and leadership program empowering students to become solution-seekers. To further enhance my capacities as an agent of social change, I sought out a diversity and inclusion organization, the Diversity Peer Education Team (DPET). I am now the student coordinator for DPET, and we cultivate a safe space for individuals to engage in critical dialogue. Our T.R.U.T.H. (True Racial Understanding through Honest) Talk series is not aimed at providing concrete solutions for issues in the world, but at promoting ongoing discussion among students, faculty, staff, and community members. As I grow and mature as a pre-service teacher and practitioner of transformative change, I hope to continue building a repository of techniques that will aid in establishing a foundation for understanding.