“We all have an opportunity to make an impact on the lives of others. We just need to be sure we seize that opportunity when it comes.” That’s what Boenell Kline, senior communications major, has come to believe as a result of her experience at BU.
In December 2010, Kline was diagnosed with type 1.5 diabetes, sometimes called “double diabetes,” in which an adult has aspects of both Type 1 and Type 2. She was faced with the challenge of dealing with this manageable, but not curable, illness and returning to school to complete her freshman year at age 30.
Kline’s diagnosis led her to a revelation. “I went to my bedroom and wept because I realized, in that moment, that I wasted all 30 years of my life,” she says. She decided to find and fulfill her purpose and, by doing so, set an example for others.
Kline struggled academically during her freshman year but, thanks to faculty members and mentors who invested in her, she turned her grades around. She credits Tara Diehl, assistant professor of academic enrichment, who, she says, “noticed I was struggling, and made it a point to help me.”
“She told me that I was smarter than I realized, I was more than I had become, and I was afraid to learn because I was afraid to fail,” Kline says.
In a few months, Kline was academically at the top of her class and conducting research that led to an invitation to present findings at a national conference. “I knew that my research and this presentation were going to be the beginning of my chance to inspire others,” Kline says. But she worried the cost of attending the conference in Las Vegas might prevent her from achieving her goal. Then she received another gift, this time from someone she had never met: a scholarship that covered her expenses and made it possible for her to present her research findings at the conference.
More than 16,000 alumni and friends have made an impact on the BU community by sharing their gifts of financial support or volunteering their knowledge and time through Bloomsburg University’s It’s Personal campaign.
Thanks to her hard work and perseverance, support from faculty and a gift from a stranger, Kline was able to unlock her potential. She says the gifts she has received from others helped her realize that she, too, has a gift to offer – the gift of inspiration.
She regularly shares her story to encourage students who face challenges. “I am speaking to students who may be facing difficult aspects of life, and hoping to inspire them to do great things. We each have a gift to give; when one gift is absent, its absence can be detrimental.” •
Tom Schaeffer is communications coordinator for the Bloomsburg University Foundation.