Joseph G. Bonito Award
The Joseph G. Bonito Servant Leadership Award is presented to a Jenks graduating student who is unanimously selected by the student directors as the person who best exemplifies the Jenks program's motto “learning for leadership and leadership for service.”
ABOUT JOE BONITO
Joe Bonito '79 is the Senior Vice President, Learning & Leadership Development Executive at Bank of America. He holds a BA from Boston College, an MS from the University of Pennsylvania and an Executive Masters in Human Resource Leadership from Rutgers University. As an undergraduate student, Joe participated in what was then the Paraprofessional Leader Group (PLG) and later served as a student director. Dubbed by Sandy Jenks as a "rough gem," Joe admired and emulated Sandy and since his graduation from BC has continued to give back to the program by leading workshops year after year. In the words of one student who benefited from Joe's tutelage, "Joe has been an invaluable foundation and glue to Jenks, and the PLG before that. His unselfish commitment and service to this organization has been exemplary and in the true spirit of Sandy Jenks." Joe gave almost four decades of service to the Jenks Leadership Program, and when we marked the 50th anniversary of the Jenks program, the Joseph G. Bonito Servant Leadership Award was created in his honor.
Class of 2021 Recipient
KAYLA HERNANDEZ '23
Over the past three semesters, it has been one of my greatest joys to watch this individual blossom into a servant leader, social justice warrior, and advocate for change on BC’s campus. Serving as a role model for her peers, this young woman’s radiant smile and unmatched enthusiasm has allowed her to engage fully and wholeheartedly with each facet of the Jenks Program. An active contributor to our Zoom sessions, we consistently look to this leader for her insights and reflections. Might I add, she has maintained a near perfect workshop attendance record - a true feat during the particularly challenging times we find ourselves in.
Every year, the Joseph G. Bonito Servant Leadership Award is presented to a graduating student who is unanimously selected by the student directors as the person who best exemplifies the Jenks program's motto “learning for leadership and leadership for service.” Today, it is my great honor to present Kayla Hernandez with this award for her embodiment of Jenks values and commitment to serving as a woman for, and with, others.
Kayla’s unwavering dedication to the Program is best exemplified in her pursuit of opportunities to learn, listen, and grow beyond the limits of our preset workshop schedule. Through her affiliation with Jenks, she has connected with the professor who facilitated our culturally responsive leadership workshop, and is now engaged in research focused on culturally responsive teaching at BC. After attending “The Hellfighter” performance sponsored by the Winston Center last fall, Kayla took the initiative to personally connect with Mr. Ron Jones, the Director of Dialogues on Diversity, to enlist his support in training her team on workshop facilitation techniques to use in their culminating service project, Peers Talk: Power and Privilege.
While her accomplishments demonstrate her tireless commitment to living the mission of Jenks, it is Kayla’s compassion and thoughtfulness that we cherish most. Kayla, we would be lost without your optimistic, yet realistic, outlook on life. In your own words, you once shared with the group that though, “Though the sun may not be shining brightly some days, it is a sense of gratitude that will carry you through.” Having watched you weave the importance of gratitude and mindfulness into your conversations, both in Jenks workshops and in our Executive Board meetings for Project Sunshine, it has been my privilege to walk alongside you in your journey of leadership and self-discovery. Though it will be hard for Marcello and I, as well as the other senior members of our Jenks class, to leave the Heights very soon here, it is in knowing that we leave BC in hands of leaders like yourself that makes saying goodbye so much easier.
Congratulations, Kayla, on your achievements with the Jenks Program. It is my great pleasure to now virtually present you with the 2021 Bonito Award!
Claire Greydanus’21, Jenks Student Director
JASON KAUPER '21
Over the past three semesters, I have had the distinct privilege of watching this wonderful leader serve as a role model, motivator, and constant source of encouragement for his fellow peers. Always the first to arrive, and eager to chip in, this individual has demonstrated the qualities of servant leadership day in and day out, inside and outside of Fulton 515.
Jason Kauper is one of the kindest, most intelligent, and humble human beings I have had the privilege to get to know and to love through the Jenks program. His genuine care for people and the common good of the world is apparent from the first time you meet him. He also has a calming presence, yet exudes confidence that all will turn out as it should. Which is what we all need these days.
Jason, I hope you know that you are capable of everything and anything, and that you have not only my support but the support of your entire extended Jenks family in all endeavors you wish to pursue. I know you are going to do fabulous things, and I hope our paths cross again and I can hear about all the change you made in the world.
It is now with great pleasure that I VIRTUALLY present this year’s 2020 Joseph G. Bonito Servant Leadership Award to the most deserving Jason Kauper.
Morgan Gamble ’20, Jenks Student Director
CLAIRE GREYDANUS '21
Over the past two years, I have had the honor and the privilege of observing this individual serve as a trailblazer, role model and constant motivator for her fellow Jenks members. Always the first to arrive, eager to engage and constantly pushing her peers to think deeply about relevant ideas and topics - Claire Greydanus has been an invaluable member to our class. It has been through the various workshops, team building activities, and in particular throughout her team project that Claire has continued to shine brightly and challenge herself to reflect on her own leadership style.
Even after the initial idea for her team’s project continued to shift as they came across potential barriers - Claire remained positive and determined to find success. “No” is truly a term that is not in Claire’s vocabulary and instead of seeing these as a moment to give up and change ideas, Claire saw these interactions as opportunities to refocus on their mission and decipher what she and her team members could accomplish in order to serve as advocates for the students of Boston College. I was truly so impressed by the panel that Claire and her team members organized and I hope you all feel incredibly proud.
Claire, I hope that you never ever doubt yourself and that you continue to fight for what you believe in. I hope you continue to reach for the stars, dream big and remain so incredibly persistent. One of my favorite quotes come to mind when I think about you - so as Tinkerbell once said “all you need is faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust.” I cannot wait to see all that you are going to accomplish in your time here left at BC, and although I am incredibly beyond sad to be leaving this “home” that I have built these past four years, it is because of people like you that I know I am leaving BC in the most incredible hands. So now, let's go out and continue to set the world aflame!
Natalie Hession '19, Jenks Student Director
SUSAN KOURTIS '18
Over the past sixteen months, I have had the privilege of getting to know this inspiring individual and have only grown to respect and admire her more. Susan Kourtis is an involved member of her Jenks class and several other organizations on and off BC's campus—always championing something close to her heart. She is rarely the first to speak in workshops, but she always contributes something thought-provoking, and others are interested and keen on hearing each word.
When her Jenks group had to shift their project focus, she quickly adapted and reshaped her group’s priorities. She is organized to a T. No matter what the situation is, she never fails to be positive. She embodies the Ignatian mindset of “finding God in all things.” She sees good and potential in everything and everyone. She is genuine and sincere in her desire to make the world a better place and exemplifies the Jenks motto of “leadership for service, service for others” in her everyday life.
Whether volunteering with your church or laughing and talking about your mom’s delicious Greek food as you squeegee windows at Covenant House, your passion for serving others is contagious and inspires others to follow. I am so excited to see where life takes you after graduation in May and I am honored to present you with the Joseph G. Bonito Servant Leadership Award.
Ashton Gillespie '18, Jenks Student Director
2017 Joseph G. Bonito Servant Leadership Award Recipient
ASHTON GILLESPIE '18
Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Ashton Gillespie and witness the incredible work that she has done. Not only has she grown tremendously as a leader, but has helped those around her to do the same. Ashton’s caring nature, drive, passion, and can do attitude makes her an exemplary leader. Always seeking to improve and learn, she embodies Sandy Jenks motto “learning for leadership and leadership for service”. While she may not be the loudest or most talkative voice in the room, when Ashton speaks she commands the attention of all those in her presence.
Ashton’s hard work does not go unnoticed, and her passion for her group’s service project was instrumental to its success. I remember talking to Ashton individually during the planning phases of her group’s project. I asked her, “Why do you want to build a garden at a school?” and she responded, in her southern charm, “You should see how ugly this poor elementary school’s playground is! Imagine how much we can inspire these kids to be the best they can be if we can make this school look a little bit more beautiful!” Ashton had a vision and worked with her group to accomplish it. I can hardly wait to see the impact that her group’s work will have on the community.
Ashton, you have motivated and pushed others to be the best they can be for themselves and more importantly, for the community. Speaking on behalf of myself and many others, it has been a privilege to work with you, learn from you, and see you grow. Your charm makes us all smile, and your leadership makes us all want to follow. I am excited to see where you and Cody can take the next Jenks class.
It is my honor to award Ashton Gillespie with the Joseph G. Bonito Servant Leadership Award.
Carson Truesdell '17, Jenks Student Director