Bonnie Brunt: bringing Wings to historically marginalized students

Bonnie Brunt

Bonnie Brunt

Editor’s note: Bonnie Brunt is dean of arts at Spokane Falls Community College. She recently attended our Women with Wings Leadership Seminar and is now focusing on bringing Wings seminars to the faculty and students at her college.

My first experience with Wings was in 1985, when I attended the “Teen Seminar” (now True Colors) at the age of 16. I entered the seminar as a shy and serious girl and walked out knowing that I was the predominant creative force in my own life, that I create my own reality, and that the possibilities always surpass my imagination. Within a few months, the teachers in my school selected me for a leadership award, the beginning of a new trajectory for my life.

Fast forward 30 years: I was completing the LifeWorks seminar, now the dean of arts at my local community college. As much as I love my job, I never set out to be dean—it was a profession that sought me out. So I asked myself, if I could do anything to pursue a dream that set my heart ablaze, what would I do?

In my current role, I chair the committee responsible for assessing the college’s goals around diversity, equity, and global awareness. One of the most important to me is “Our diverse students succeed.” This means ALL STUDENTS, no matter their race/ethnicity, physical ability, identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic, or educational background. This is the core of the community college mission.

What would I most want to do? The answer that came to me was straightforward: If I could do anything, I would get the best tools I knew about—those found in the Personal Effectiveness Seminar—to our most marginalized students, specifically to our students of color, and assist them to take flight!

After attending Women with Wings with one of my colleagues last October, I shared this dream with her. She encouraged me to reach out to Wings. To my complete delight, my idea correlates strongly with some of the work that Wings is already doing to make these trainings more widely available and relevant to people of color. With the support of our college president and our director of diversity, doors are opening and my dream is materializing! In February, my college will send a small cohort of faculty/staff to PES, to begin building the support structure for our students. We will seek funding from our foundation and intend to send our first cohort of students to PES in the fall of 2018.

As we put these powerful tools into the hands of our students of color, I believe that we will soon see the effects in their own achievement at our college and beyond. I believe they will see and create possibilities that we cannot yet fathom, that will ripple throughout our student body into the future and the community. I’m excited to see what our students of color will be able to achieve once they spread their wings and fly.

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