Location: Bowdoin / McKeen Center / Activity / 2009 / Living the Commitment: Stories of the Common Good

Living the Commitment: Stories of the Common Good

Story posted January 21, 2009

Building for the Future

Information Technology's Nancy Grant builds volunteer work around her professional interests

By Anna Karass

Although it has been more than three decades since Educational Technology Consultant Nancy Grant served in the Peace Corps, the impact of the experience has lasted a lifetime.

"I was interested in doing Peace Corps because there was a lot of need there. I’m not sure that I helped solve any major problem, but I gained a lot of international perspective. I certainly believe in the power of citizen diplomacy,” Grant says of her time in Sierra Leone.

Grant’s commitment to the community led her to collaborate with the McKeen Center and the Career Planning Center to establish ServeIT, a project that pairs Web site design training with community service. Grant trains Bowdoin students in Web design and students put their new skills to use by building websites for community organizations.

"We had a fair number of community organizations that were requesting to have websites built,” Grant says.  “We also had a number of students who were nervous and felt like they didn’t have enough marketable technical skills for employment.”

The project began when Grant worked with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Laura Toma's service learning course,  Introduction to Computer Science in the fall of 2004.  Students in this course learned website programming while building websites for local non-profit organizations that did not have the resources to do so on their own.  As the course evolved, the project was sustained by the collaboration between the CPC, the McKeen Center and IT.  In the three years since, students have built some twenty Web sites for local organizations, including the Harpswell Garden Club and Brunswick Community for All Ages. In many cases the student-designed sites are the agencies’ first and provide a starting point for future additions.

Grant’s community involvement extends beyond her work with ServeIT at the College. An avid cyclist, she serves on the board of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, an organization that promotes access, safety, and education. Her passion for cycling also got her involved with Portland Trails, which maintains fifty miles of trails around Portland.

For Grant the “trails make Portland that much nicer a city to live in.”

Though Grant has a passion for outdoor activities, she also volunteered extensively in the past for AFS Intercultural Programs and currently volunteers in ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) adult education classes in Portland.  These 2 opportunities have fed her interest in other cultures, just as Peace Corps did decades ago.

According to Grant, her service is driven by her “hope for a better world”.  While she picks organizations based on their mission and cause, she always enjoys “working with other people to get things done as a team”.

Anna Karass '08 was a reporting fellow for the McKeen Center for the Common Good in the summer of 2008.

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Nancy Grant's service is driven by her hope for a better world.