Service Scholar Spotlight: Billy Bonneau and Karlee Platts
Service Scholars Billy Bonneau and Karlee Platts will be walking across the stage during this Saturday’s Commencement ceremony alongside 16 of their classmates who collectively have completed 16,140 hours of service over the last four years at Fisher.
The scholars have done volunteer work at the Ronald McDonald House, the Friendly Home, Rochester General Hospital, Strong Memorial Hospital, the Rochester City School District, Bivona Child Advocacy Center, Habitat for Humanity, and many other sites since 2010.
Bonneau, a native of Colonie (just outside of Albany), said the service scholarship has been one of the best things that has ever happened to him.
As a freshman, he volunteered at the American Cancer Society and then switched to volunteer at School No. 52 his sophomore year where he has been ever since. He has worked with the same teacher and students all three years, following them from 3rd grade to 5th grade. He helped the teacher with miscellaneous tasks and read with kids individually after their lunch.
“Service has made me appreciate everything I have in life and all of the opportunities I have available to me that others do not. I love being able to help students every time I go to volunteer because it makes me feel like I made an impact on someone’s life, even if it is just one person,” he said.
One moment that stood out to Bonneau was early on in his time at School No. 52 when he walked in and all of the kids screamed, “Mr. B!” at the top of their lungs.
“I remember that being a breakthrough moment for me, making me feel like I really made a difference with the kids, motivating me to keep coming back,” he said.
And while service has taken up most of his time here, Bonneau also served as an Orientation leader for three years and was a sports writer for the Cardinal Courier all four years, serving as the Sports Copy Editor this year. He is also a member of Lambda Pi Eta. In addition, he found time for the track team during his sophomore and junior years.
Bonneau with his class from School No. 52.
“The Service Scholarship Program has opened my eyes to a whole new world of giving back and making a difference in someone else's life. I have learned so much about myself and about other people. I would recommend this to anyone, and I am so thankful for this opportunity,” said Bonneau.
Platts, who is originally from Mohawk, NY, said growing up in a small town taught her to appreciate the important things in life including family values, hard work, philanthropy, dignity, and compassion. Her interest in community service really began in her childhood when she would visit her mother at work at St. Luke’s Hospital. She said she always felt compelled to stay and help people. She also volunteered at a local retirement community, spending time each Sunday with the residents. Platts said it is her mission to help as many people as she can.
Since she came to Fisher, she has been involved in a variety of service initiatives from the Ronald McDonald House Gala to the Appalachia service trip that many students took last spring.
Her main site, though, became the Ronald McDonald House, which she refers to as her “home away from home.” Each week, she would tackle whatever task needed tackling in the house, from cooking dinner, to cleaning rooms, or even doing laundry.
“As volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House, although we can’t take away the family’s pain, we can help lessen their burdens by ensuring that the families have a clean, stable and supportive place to stay,” she said.
Away from her volunteer site, Platts has become involved in the program on campus, speaking at open houses, leading information sessions, and interviewing prospective Service Scholars. She said she volunteers to do those things because of how strongly she believes in the program. In addition, she held a leadership position in the Chemistry Club, participated in several Relay for Life events, and most recently created a Go Green Club on campus.
Platts won’t go far this fall, as she will be enrolling in the College’s Wegmans School of Pharmacy. Having had to face the decision between a pharmacy school in Maine or here at Fisher, she said a lot of her decision to stay was that she will still be able to work with the Ronald McDonald House.
“When you’re a service scholar, it becomes your mission and responsibility to assist people in need and to dedicate much of your time to helping others. But, what I never expected was how much the service scholarship would change and help me. My perspective and outlook on life has grown so drastically during my time at Fisher and I attribute most of that growth to this program,” she said. “I am grateful to have been a part of this program, I feel truly blessed.”
Some of the graduating Service Scholars.