Banner Photo: Bonnie (left) with Laurie Spofford and Frances Hall while cleaning up hurricane damage in Sabine Pass, Louisiana, on Alternative Spring Break.
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2011 Lindley Award Winner Bonnie Magnuson Pursues Involvement in Global Community
by Lisa Heer
It seems that from early on, 2011 Lindley Award co-winner Bonnie Magnuson had her sights set on the global community.
Upon entering the University of Idaho, Magnuson became involved with the Borah Committee, one of the university’s signature events planned and staffed entirely by volunteers, and has continued to serve there for three years. Magnuson remains the only underclassman to serve throughout the 64 year history of the Borah Committee.
“I cannot adequately express how much I appreciate and admire her contributions to the committee,” said Director of the Martin Institute Bill Smith. “I will always fondly recall a couple of occasions where the committee could not reach a decision and Ms. Magnuson offered a compromise that everyone embraced. For a freshman to be in that role is remarkable.”
This type of initiative and leadership is evident in Magnuson’s other endeavors as well.
While pursuing a triple major at the University of Idaho in Economics, French, and International Studies, Magnuson has been actively involved in the Moscow community: serving on the Student Foundation Board, volunteering at the Lionel Hampton Jazz festival, joining a sorority, reading to young children, attending campus lectures, playing intramural sports, and becoming part of the International Conversation Partners program where she helped international students perfect their English- all in her first two years at the University.
“Being a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma for four years has deeply influenced my time at UI. I love the traditions and history of the house as well as how I meet Kappa alums everywhere, and several of the friendships I have made there I intend to continue for the rest of my life,” said Magnuson.
And if this weren’t enough to keep her busy, Magnuson was also a member of the UI delegation to the National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference as a sophomore, and participated in an internship program in Geneva, Switzerland as an upperclassman.
“Bonnie is a person with a broad range of pursuits and a serious engagement with the world around her,” said Associate Professor of French Sarah Nelson. “She is committed to having a positive impact and works towards that goal on many levels.”
While in Geneva, she wrote for the Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, which is read by roughly one thousand global leaders. A few of Magnuson’s published articles were about the WTO, the World Bank, US-China trade disputes, free trade agreement negotiations in Latin American countries, and economic situations of developing countries.
She also went abroad in France, and served as co-editor for the Journal of the Martin School of International Studies, which is a time consuming endeavor in itself. During her semester in Strasbourg, France she completed courses in 14 different subjects and achieved excellent academic marks in the French system, finishing her semester there with high distinction.
“I have rarely encountered a student who can compare with her in her combination of intellect, focus, breadth of interest, and brilliant performance, and yet she is also one of the most unassuming and least ‘entitled’ students I have had the pleasure of teaching,” said Nelson.
Magnuson is also currently working as a teaching assistant for the International Studies department, responsible for teaching IS 320 and preparing a 36 person contingent for the 2011 NMUN conference.
“I very much appreciate her eye to detail, the high standard she demands from the delegate papers, and the easy way she has of working with students in small groups,” said Smith. “What strikes me most about Bonnie Magnuson is the scope and quality of her contribution to the wider CLASS and UI communities.”
To top off her noteworthy list of accomplishments, Magnuson’s current GPA for her triple major pursuit is a 4.00.
“She has remarkable natural talent- she understands problems and makes quick connections between disparate issues or disciplines- but her tremendous performance throughout her University of Idaho career is due less to that natural talent than her ability to plan for success,” said Nelson.
And Magnuson is certainly planning to be successful after graduating. Magnuson just returned from her second week in New York City for National Model United Nations, representing Ghana and Azerbaijan as a head delegate for the University of Idaho. While there, she had the chance to meet the actual diplomats of the countries she represented, voted on the floor of the UN, and practiced the role of diplomat herself. Experiences such as these have shaped Magnuson’s desire to remain active on an international level in the future.
“I’m currently in the midst of searching for jobs where I could research and write on either national or international subjects,” said Magnuson. “After working for a year or two to get further real world experience, I would like to go to graduate school- maybe for a Masters in Public Policy or Statistics, or law school.”
Wherever she ends up, her time as a student at Idaho will have had a profound impact.
“I feel so honored to have won the Lindley Award,” said Magnuson. “The pool of nominees was filled with brilliant students who have accomplished a great deal during their time here, so to be chosen for the award is an enormous compliment. It’s a wonderful way to end my four years at Idaho.”