“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can”
— Arthur Ashe
SCU awarded Monet Gonnerman with the 2015 Peter-Hans Kolvenbach University Award for exemplifying the ideals of Jesuit education. The awardee is recognized as a “whole person of solidarity in the real world,” who has the courage and faith to build a more just and humane world.
“It’s a pretty exciting thing to be recognized as someone who stands for what Santa Clara University stands for,” says Monet.
Her experiences at SCU are a tapestry of service and influential experiences, which weaves in Jesuit ideals and qualifies her for the award. The Global Social Benefit Fellowship of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship was one such formative experience for Monet.
“During the fellowship, I learned a lot about myself and the way I functioned. I discovered what I could contribute, even though it was not originally what I planned.”
Through the Global Social Benefit Fellowship, Monet observed women’s training centers in Kolkata, India. Her initial plans were to develop software to enable women to more efficiently perform their jobs. It wasn’t until she was on the ground that she realized the women trainees had never even touched a computer.
Monet quickly adapted her research plan and instead developed a beginner’s computer curriculum. The document would serve as a user’s manual to explain a computer to a local villager, one step at a time.
Developing her manual, when she couldn’t speak Bengali, was a painstakingly, frustrating process. Yet, she did what she could with what she had.
Despite the language barrier, it was the authentic human connections with women in Kolkata that spurred Monet on. Through the Global Social Benefit Fellowship, Monet affirmed her passion of working with women cross-culturally.
Monet finished her SCU career by writing her senior honors thesis using Nussbaum’s capabilities approach, an alternative theory of development to analyze how enterprises work with women and what opportunities are available to them. She presented her poster at the Research with a Mission Open House, co-sponsored by University Honors Program and the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship .
After graduation, Monet will return to the developing world to work, this time in El Salvador for nine months. She will be working as a Community Coordinator for the Casa de la Solidaridad study abroad program.