Bonanno Receives Buck Weirus Spirit Award

April 12, 2016

Weirus-Bonanno-2016-3229Micheal Young, Texas A​&M University President; Daniel Pugh Jr., Texas A&M University Vice President for Student Affairs (on left); and Porter S. Garner III '79, The Association of Former Students President and CEO (on right); present the Buck Weirus Spirit Award to Texas A&M Law School 3L Danielle Bonanno.

The Texas A&M University Association of Former Students presented Texas A&M School of Law third-year student Danielle Bonanno the 2016 Buck Weirus Spirit Award at a ceremony during Parents Weekend on April 10 in College Station.

The Buck Weirus Spirit Award is named in honor of Richard “Buck” Weirus ’42 to recognize students for outstanding contributions to student life programs at Texas A&M. The award honors 55 students within the entire A&M system who demonstrate high involvement, create positive experiences in the Aggie community, impact student life and enhance the Aggie spirit. Award recipients received a unique commemorative watch and framed certificate.

“To think that there are over 60,000 students at Texas A&M and only 55 of them receive this award annually, you recognize how great this achievement truly is,” said Kristi Kaiser Trail '00, Director of Former Students, Alumni and External Relations at the law school.

Bonanno-Weirus-Burke-Weirus2016Dianna Weirus Burke, daughter of the award's namesake, Buck Weirus '42, with 2016 award recipient Danielle Bonanno
Out of the 55 recipients, usually only two to five are professional/graduate students. Bonanno is the second Aggie law student to receive this award. The first was Erin Bullard (B.A. ’10 & J.D. ’14), who was a recipient in 2014.

Bonanno is currently president of the Student Bar Association (SBA), in which she has been involved for the past three years. She has served as an Academic Support Teaching Assistant for two years. In this role, she acts as a mentor and provides first-year students with the keys to law school and career success.

She has also been a Public Interest Law Fellow for two years, during which she worked with the SafeHaven legal team one summer, and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in felony court another summer. She has a dream of working in the public interest law sector, and said being a fellow has made that a reality.

“This opportunity has been one of my most invaluable experiences,” Bonanno said of Law Fellowship.

She said being a part of these organizations has ​expanded her leadership skills and has helped to prepare her to be a contributing member of the legal field.

"They have taken the qualities that I already possessed and expounded them,” she said. “My experiences in these student organizations have shaped me into a professional that can handle great responsibility, perfected my time management skills, and helped prepare me for a career in public interest law.”

Bonnano-Weirus-2016-3176Texas A​&M School of Law Director of Former Students, Alumni and External Relations, Kristi Kaiser Trail '00; Danielle's mother Christine Bonanno; Danielle Bonanno; Michael Young; Texas A&M School of Law Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Rosalind Jeffers​; and Texas A&M School of Law Professor Joe Spurlock '60.
Bonanno said all the faculty and staff at the law school have had a part in shaping her into the law student and future Aggie lawyer she is. A few she mentioned are Dean Rosalind Jeffers and the Student Affairs staff; Natalia Cashen; Camesha Little; Deb Barnett; professors Meg Penrose, Stephen Alton, Neil Sobol and Malinda Seymore; and Trail, who encouraged her to apply for the award.

“I reached out to Danielle and encouraged her to apply for the Spirit Award, as she embodies every characteristic of the past recipients that I have known, when I was a student at Texas A&M,” Trail said. “She has made a huge impact on the student life here at the law school through her leadership with SBA and the Law Fellowship, just to name a few. Her involvement and the time she spends on campus in meeting with not just students but the faculty and staff, shows her dedication to making this a great place to go to law school.”

Bonanno came to the law school wanting “to truly BE an Aggie” by serving her campus and the students as an Aggie leader. She feels receiving the Buck Weirus Spirit Award is validation that she achieved her goal.

Bonanno said it still hasn’t set in that she was selected when there are so many other well deserving candidates for the award.

“Our law school has an amazing group of student leaders that dedicate much of their ‘free’ time to bettering our campus and I am ecstatic that they picked me.”

TAMU-Buck-Weirus-group-2016The 2016 Texas A&M Buck Weirus Award recipients

- Article by Jennifer Nassar, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M University School of Law