Scholarship benefactor Jason Bonsall wants people to know that he does not consider himself to be unique, or special, or extraordinary.
He’s just a regular guy who has found a way to help others. He has done so by starting a scholarship fund while an undergraduate philosophy major at UNC Charlotte.
“I want everyone to see I’m just a young guy who wanted to help people,” Bonsall said. “Maybe that will inspire people to realize that it’s not that hard. It’s not ivory tower stuff. Anybody can do it. And everybody should do it.”
Founded in 2012-13, the Jason Bonsall Promising Potential Scholarship has assisted two students with $7,500 awards in their first years at UNC Charlotte. While other people’s paths may differ from his, Bonsall is convinced that everyone can find a way to pitch in – whether with money, expertise or time.
“There’s a way, there’s a door to help people no matter what you have, no matter what kind of skills you have,” he said. “It’s important for me when people see me and hear me, they see a regular fellow.”
Bonsall chose to focus on students who had potential, yet needed a boost in their first year either because of financial or academic challenges.
A self-described “class clown” and “terrible student” while at Butler High School in Matthews, Bonsall entered the U.S. Army immediately after high school. Just before his 21st birthday, he sustained debilitating injuries in a car accident. He returned home, and with his mother’s encouragement, sampled classes at Central Piedmont Community College.
“It was the first time I ever sought out knowledge intentionally,” he said. “After a couple of years, I discovered philosophy.” He learned that the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at UNC Charlotte offered dozens of courses in the discipline.
“I said, “I have to go there and learn more than just what I can figure out from these books in my living room,” ” Bonsall said. Since that time, he has found his passion in shaping the world through the political-social spectrum. He has presented at conferences, moderates on-line groups and continues his formal studies.
“The financial contributions I’m making are coming from my collection from my injuries,” he said. “It’s not money that I’m working to earn. So I feel (more) strongly compelled to give it back. It’s a community. There’s a compulsion, still, to give other people a chance that I’ve had from what I consider to not be my own work.”
Bonsall is encouraged that the scholarship recipients have also found ways to give back.
“My passion is to help others and care for others,” Edathil said. “Jason said, “I’m so glad that you know what you want and you have such a big heart to help others.” I want to make him feel that his money was worth it and the person he chose for the scholarship was worth it.”
Edathil has completed her sophomore year. The scholarship supported her during her freshman year and helped alleviate financial pressures.
“My parents were overjoyed when they heard I received the scholarship,” she said. “The scholarship also motivated me to do better in school. I knew I had someone backing me up.”
The support helped her stay focused on academics, which required a higher level of critical thinking than in high school, she said. “When you’re in college, you have to pull all the different things together and apply your knowledge,” she said. “It’s a different kind of thinking.”
As the second recipient of the scholarship, Aadyha King draws insights from her mother, a single parent who balanced a full-time job while also attending college. Her mother enrolled in college when King was in the sixth-grade, and they pulled together to build a stable environment for younger siblings in the home.
“She gave me the inspiration to go to college and make something of myself,” King said. “She said for me to not be like her and wait until the last minute to go to college. She also showed me that I’m the leader of my brothers. I’m showing them the path they need to take.”
King has paid off student loans and supported non-profit organizations and people with disabilities with the funds. “The scholarship award was really personal to me,” she said. “It would be really selfish of me to keep all the money to myself, especially when there are people who’ve helped me get to this point. I feel I need to give back.”
She currently is an active volunteer with the Black Student Union, the Removing Our Obstacles Through Sisterhood organization and other groups.
“I’ve been involved in volunteering and community service all my life,” she said. “I feel like the more education you get, the more helpful you can be to somebody else and to yourself.”
The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences depends on the generosity of dedicated alumni, students, parents and friends like you. To learn more about the many ways you can support our college, please contact Director Development Mai Li Munoz, MA, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-687-0084.