A Community Engagement Professional Who Found His Place Through Relationship Building
Taking on New (and Sometimes Life-Changing) Opportunities
A storyteller, leader, scholar, innovator, and educator, Leo Schuchert wears a variety of hats for a variety of people. Though Leo is not motivated by titles, he has an impressive collection, including role model to countless students. He credits it all to the relationships he has made through the Bonner Network.
Taking on New Opportunities
Prior to moving into his current role, as Associate Director of the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement (CLCE) at Wagner College, Leo attended the institution, where he studied psychology and was actively involved in civic leadership programs. It was through one of these programs, and the encouragement of one of his friends, that Leo was able to unknowingly welcome in Wagner College’s inaugural cohort of Bonner Leaders.
“At the beginning of my junior year, a friend asked me if I would help move a group of students into campus early. I had no idea what it was, but I was ready to help out,” said Leo. “Little did I know, I then went on to facilitate my first, and Wagner’s first, summer Bonner Orientation [in 2013]. I absolutely fell in love with the program.”
Journey into Higher Education
Following summer Bonner Orientation, Leo continued to work with his friend and Bonner Senior Intern, Kevin Farrell, and the Bonner Coordinator, at the time, Samantha Siegel, to nurture the nascent Bonner program. Starting as the Bonner Junior Intern and then taking Kevin’s role in his senior year, Leo would go on to become the Bonner Coordinator and, later, the Associate Director of the CLCE. Leo thanks the relationships he made throughout the Bonner Network for helping him move into this incredible position.
When asked about the most important factor in securing the job he has now, Leo said, “Relationships, hands down. That, and the personal and professional experience that I have gained in different roles over the years.” He continues by saying, “What I appreciate the most about this role are the relationships that I have built, whether they were in the community, the college, or the CLCE. Everything builds off the interactions that you have with others.”
Leo argues that strong relationships are the foundation to sustained and long-lasting positive change. Once established, students have an opportunity to co-create an aligned vision, apply learned skills, and establish mission-based partnerships. This year, in fact, he hosted the 2018 Bonner Summer Leadership Institute on his campus. In doing so, Leo gave Bonner Scholars and Leaders across the country a chance to connect with students, staff, and community partners throughout the national Bonner Network. In this way, he worked through existing strong relationships to bring them to an even broader national audience.
Even though Leo is in his dream job now, he knows he will one day to apply his experiences to other appointments. He plans to continue his commitment to civic engagement and service learning at higher education institutions by educating more students to be participatory citizens and agents of local change. Through his work, Leo is blazing the trail for students to enact change through risk-taking, collaboration, and mutually beneficial partnership work.
To learn more about Leo, check out some of his favorite books:
Written by Alexander Nichols, Bonner Scholar at Davidson College ‘19