Julian Bonds loves helping young people.
In his first year at Notre Dame, he tutored students at the Robinson Community Learning Center. The summer after sophomore year, he coached a middle school basketball team. He joined Matriculate, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping low-income, high-achieving high school students through the college admissions process, and he is currently an RA in Stanford Hall.
So it’s only natural that the English and history major would seek a career in education.
Growing up as a triplet in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bonds learned from his experiences as the son of a former principal and a current first-grade teacher, as well as his own schooling.
“I had great English teachers in high school,” said Bonds, a Mary M. and Patrick T. Mulva endowed scholarship recipient. “I felt like I could be a good English teacher, and I added history because it’s something I really enjoy. And I wanted to have a little bit more diversity as I entered into the profession. I wanted to have multiple things I could teach.”
“Three things have been embedded in almost all of my Arts and Letters classes — creativity, passion, and a relentless drive to learn more about a subject. Regardless of the career path I ultimately choose, I hope to always remain willing to be creative, eager to engage with things I am passionate about, and relentless in learning more about everything in order to better help the young people I work with.”
Through his interdisciplinary Arts & Letters courses, research, and interests outside of the classroom, Bonds has developed his knowledge of the education system, its benefits and flaws, and his potential role in it.
“You start to see how some of the issues in education stem from history and stem from things that I’m learning about that are not education-centric,” said Bonds, who is also minoring in education, schooling, and society. “I’m in a Civil War class, and you can see how the roots of slavery are still permeating through the educational issues we examine in ESS.”
Through his work as a head advising fellow with Matriculate, Bonds sees this intersection between education and social justice first-hand. As part of the Notre Dame chapter, he is matched with high school students from a variety of schools and backgrounds and works with each individually.
“It’s those students that I've become passionate about through ESS,” he said, “in terms of learning about how schooling operates in the United States and how we got to the point where there are students in schools that are very disadvantaged.”
Bonds has found that advising students on the essay-writing portion of the process is the most fulfilling. He also enjoys the entire search, application, and decision cycle as a way to connect with students as they open up and talk about their passions.
“The ability to study things that you’re passionate about is really important,” he said. “It’s something I’m always telling kids in Matriculate — to study things they’re passionate about and to tell me what they’re passionate about. And I think Arts & Letters uniquely allows you to combine different passions.”
Indulging his passion for education, Bonds took a seminar, Education on the Margins, with Maria McKenna, senior associate director of the ESS minor, during his sophomore year. After his final exam, McKenna invited him to accompany her, another professor, and several other students to India over spring break to learn about educational practices there.
Bonds saw differences between the countries — in India, students all know multiple languages — but he also saw a diversity of teaching styles and a shared humanity that are found in the United States as well.
“Kids are just kids wherever you go,” he said. “I remember we were sitting outside the school and there was a lot across the street where kids were playing cricket. And they invited us to go play cricket with them, just complete strangers. That’s exactly what a kid does — sees someone who might be a friend and wants to play a game with them.”
Some of Bonds’ favorite teachers from high school acted as those children did — inviting every student into a relationship and getting to know each one. He aspires to emulate both their welcoming actions and diverse curriculum.
Following his graduation in May, Bonds will join the Alliance for Catholic Education and spend two years teaching at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School. Whether he ends up teaching for a few years or for his entire career, his liberal arts education has laid the foundation for his future.
“Three things have been embedded in almost all of my Arts and Letters classes — creativity, passion, and a relentless drive to learn more about a subject,” he said. “Regardless of the career path I ultimately choose, I hope to always remain willing to be creative, eager to engage with things I am passionate about, and relentless in learning more about everything in order to better help the young people I work with.”
“The ability to study things that you’re passionate about is really important. It’s something I’m always telling kids — to study things they’re passionate about and to tell me what they’re passionate about. And I think Arts & Letters uniquely allows you to combine different passions.”