Alexis Rodgers
UR senior Alexis Rogers working at ART 180. “As an artist and a woman of color, I resonate with the idea that art is a tool that can be used to build bridges, dismantle unjust systems, and empower a collective,” Rogers said.

Lessons in life and time management

March 15, 2024


The front windowpanes of ART 180 are filled with black-and-white portraits of artists. One of them is UR senior Alexis Rogers, a sociology major who enjoys painting. She started working with the nonprofit during her first year in college and has stuck with it.

Rogers is a Bonner Scholar, part of a group of students who provide thousands of service hours each year to nonprofits and governmental agencies throughout Richmond and beyond. Students receive financial support for their voluntarism, which lasts all four years.

ART 180 provides free art classes to Richmond high school students.

“Their mission and values spoke to me. They use art as a transformative tool and amplifier to uplift not only the young people we work with, but the entire community,” Rogers said.

“Feed More is an excellent first-year site, and you meet people from all sorts of backgrounds who are there for court-ordered community service, corporate volunteer teams, or even culinary students,” said first-year student Saxon Hernandez, pictured with Bonner volunteers Joyce Kim and Mera Seifu.

During the past two years, Rogers has averaged about 10 hours a week with the organization. She has taught painting at family night and assisted with exhibition planning and curation, the summer teen artist residency, volunteer management, community outreach, and supporting a fundraising campaign.

Being part of the window installation was an unexpected bonus.

“It celebrates the many individual personalities, talents, dreams, and ideas that make up the people in our collective,” Rogers said. “I was ecstatic to see myself included.”

Bonner Scholars volunteer for at least 250 hours each academic year and work an average of 280 hours in the summers.

First-year Saxon Hernandez volunteers at Feed More. “Food access is important to me, and of all the first-year Bonner placement sites, it seemed the most hands-on way to help the local community,” he said.

He works in the prep kitchen and the warehouse. “The bulk of my work is what you'd expect of working in a community kitchen: slicing and peeling vegetables, bagging dried foods, stacking boxes, or sorting donations,” he said.

He sometimes finds balancing homework and service work challenging, especially to allow time for other clubs and a social life. He breaks up his commitments into hourly blocks to manage his packed schedule and allocates time to them.

“Kids are full of life; no matter what they are facing or whether I had a bad day, they will bring the energy to the room and make me smile again,” said first-year student Angelos Bouras, who volunteers at Higher Achievement.

Angelos Bouras hit the ground running with over 230 hours of service in his first semester at UR. To stay organized, he uses Google Tasks and Calendar and always tries to finish his homework on the same day that it is assigned, or days before the deadline when it comes to projects.

“At the end of the day, I am a full-time student and that is my first priority,” Bouras said.

About half of his hours were spent volunteering at Higher Achievement, where he is a mentor to students at Thomas C. Boushall Middle School.

“I am here to help them with whatever they may want or need —whether it’s helping with their homework, teaching them about writing, or just chatting about their lives,” Bouras said.

Most of the students at the school face economic hardships, and some have social difficulties. One of his mentees refused to share his name for weeks. After Bouras couldn’t attend a session, the student called him on it.

“I realized that I was having the right approach when he asked me why I had not shown up last time. Then he shared his name,” Bouras said. “This is one of the stories that keeps me going in the organization.”