As a small business owner who also runs a popular NYC comedy night, you won’t catch Ashford alum Trevor Bonner sitting down for long these days – but that hasn’t always been the case. Back in junior college, a promising basketball debut came to an abrupt halt after a serious knee injury led to surgeries, missed classes, and an eventual academic dismissal. The word he uses to describe this early disappointment? “Shame.”
Having been raised in a rough Brooklyn neighborhood without a father since the age of 9, this setback could have proven highly detrimental for Trevor. Instead, he went on to carve out success on his own terms and has graduated from Ashford University summa cum laude at the age of 42.
Today, this self-described people person who is “always hustling” takes the A train into New York City to work – for himself. “I haven’t worked for someone else in over 11 years,” he explains. That was when he started a personal training company helping others achieve their fitness goals. After more than 10 years, Trevor is now focusing on his current business providing security services for local bars, clients he says are “like family.” He also started Bonnerfied Entertainment to produce a regular event called Comedy Spillage, which “blends the hottest comedians, surprise musical performers, celebrity guests, and an exhilarating cosmopolitan audience” and is hosted by HBO and BET comedian Shawn Cornelius.
However, Trevor’s lack of a college degree continued to bother him. And the death of his grandmother, who he describes as having been his best friend, served as an extra motivator to continue to better himself. Luckily, he found encouragement in the form of his Ashford University Admissions Counselor. “He helped me to not be ashamed of my previous educational mishaps and guided me through the best options to fit into my crazy schedule.”
Trevor feels the Bachelor of Arts in Sports and Recreation Management program combined his passions of sports and business perfectly. “My experience with Ashford has helped solidify what I’ve wanted to do. I was already running my own business, so it was like, ‘Okay, that’s what I’ve been doing this whole time, and this is how I can do it more effectively!’” He says that knowing the proper terms and getting clarity on concepts has helped him to express himself better as a businessman, and he feels more confident with the degree credentials on his resume.
Additionally, Trevor’s courses helped him rediscover an old passion of his: writing. He explains how being able to open up about his life experiences through his papers and discussions with classmates has been a powerful experience. “I’ve gotten back into writing now. I could express myself through my papers and incorporate my own experiences into the assignments, and the feedback from my professors really kept me motivated!”
Trevor hopes that by graduating, he can inspire others with similarly rough upbringings in his neighborhood to continue their education. “Personally, attending Ashford has actually been very therapeutic in coming to terms with my family issues, and also in improving my business skills, such as more effectively managing people.” Trevor’s goal is to one day own his own gym and also to take his comedy show and business to the next level with national exposure. Don’t be surprised to see this Ashford alumnus on your TV someday soon!