Story posted May 10, 2010
In supporting the public engagement activities of students, faculty and staff, the McKeen Center for the Common Good recognized the service and engagement efforts of several members of the Bowdoin and local community in an awards ceremony with President Mills on May 7th. The recipients represent the range of ways in which students, faculty and staff (as well as community partners) today work to apply their talents, passions and academic interests "for the benefit of society" as a manifestation of President Joseph McKeen's call in his inaugural address at the opening of the College over two hundred years ago.
Shelby Hannah Davies '10, James Robert Nadeau '10, Sig Knudsen '65, and John Hodge of The Brunswick Housing Authority received The Bowdoin Spirit of Service Award which is presented annually to a Bowdoin senior and a community member who embrace a genuine commitment to improving the lives of others through service, their actions speaking strongly while they remain humbly quiet.
Shelby Hannah Davies '10 (Biochemistry/Russian) arrived at Bowdoin and quickly became involved in the community as a member of the Common Good Grant Committee, where she helped raise funds for local nonprofits and learned about philanthropy. This work opened her eyes to the needs of the Bath/Brunswick region and inspired her strong commitment to contributing to the local community throughout her career at Bowdoin. During her sophomore year on the Common Good Grant Committee, the group awarded funds to Sexual Assault Support Services of Mid Coast Maine (SASSMM), to implement their K-12 peer educator program. Since then Shelby has been actively involved herself as a peer educator with SASSM, for example, using puppet shows to teach safety and appropriate behaviors to children in kindergarten through fourth grades. As a McKeen Fellow her junior year, Shelby became one of the two student leaders of the Common Good Grant Committee, and increased her understanding of and appreciation both for the needs of the Brunswick community and the diverse interests of Bowdoin students. During her senior year, as a McKeen Fellow helping to organize the Seeking the Common Good series and the end-of-semester symposia celebrating campus-community learning partnerships, Shelby has devoted herself generously to providing other students opportunities to engage their passions in ways that connect them to the greater Brunswick community. In all of these endeavors, Shelby has displayed a deep commitment to learning about the local community, and to enhancing the quality of life for residents of all ages. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to the community organization of the recipient’s choice and Shelby has chosen Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine.
As a first-year student at Bowdoin, James Robert Nadeau '10 (Government & Legal Studies/English) wasted no time in connecting his academic interests with his desire to work with the local community. He began volunteering weekly at the call center for the Volunteer Lawyers Project in Portland. As only a sophomore, he was selected to lead the Bowdoin student volunteer group for VLP and continued in this position for the next two years, including a summer position with them. As a senior, Jamie has taken his experience as the leader of a student volunteer group and is utilizing it to assist 50 student leaders in creating quality volunteer experiences for over 300 of their peers as president of the Bowdoin Volunteer Corps. Additionally, in 2008, in his role as the Common Good Day Fellow, Jamie organized a day of service that connected over 500 students, faculty, and staff with 60 organizations throughout midcoast Maine. Jamie’s passion for service extends beyond Maine and into communities abroad as well. As a sophomore, he participated in a trip to Guatemala to work with Safe Passage. So moved by this experience, Jamie returned to Safe Passage during his senior year as an Alternative Spring Break trip leader. Additionally, he utilized his junior semester abroad in Cape Town, South Africa to connect with the local organization LAWCO, which works with high school students to spread political and legal knowledge. Upon graduation, Jamie will embark on a journey to Zambia to work with the Kucetekela Foundation as a part of the Princeton in Africa program. Accompanying the award is a $100 donation to the community organization of the recipient’s choice and Jamie has chosen Safe Passage.
Sig Knudsen graduated from Bowdoin College in 1965 with a degree in Sociology and went on to get a Master of Social Science in Social Administration degree from Case Western Reserve University. His life and career since then have been dedicated to helping those in need. As a social worker, he improved the lives of children and families in both Alaska and Maine. As his career progressed, Sig served as the Executive Director of three Maine organizations – Coastal Economic Development Corporation in Bath, People’s Regional Opportunity Program (PROP) in Portland, and most recently, People Plus in Brunswick. In each of these endeavors, Sig has left a lasting mark. At Coastal Economic Development Corporation, he brought the agency into compliance with federal and state funding sources and ensured participation of low-income people in the agency’s policy-making process. With PROP, Sig strove to ensure a team approach to the organization’s work and created a teen peer counseling program in Portland’s public housing facilities, as well as a Family Resource Center. Returning to work in Brunswick 32 years after graduating from Bowdoin, Sig expanded the work of People Plus by strengthening their offerings to area seniors and creating intergenerational programming which has firmly placed the organization as a true community center in Brunswick. Instrumental in the creation of the Brunswick Teen Center, Sig has strived to make Brunswick a community that is truly for all ages. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to the organization of the recipient’s choice and Sig has chosen the Brunswick Teen Center.
John Hodge has been a moving force for safe, quality affordable housing for the residents of Mid Coast Maine in multiple ways. Primarily as the Director of the Brunswick Housing Authority, overseeing its subsidized housing programs since 1997, he has worked tirelessly to serve the needs and aspirations for housing among low-income residents in the community. John established the Mid Coast Community Housing Coalition, which works to provide housing opportunities as a way to improve the quality of life and promote self-sufficiency for members of the community and to bring both public and private moneys to bear on housing issues. He has been a public advocate, emphasizing the importance of educating citizens about the needs for affordable housing in our community, whether through annual trips to Washington, D.C. to inform Maine’s congressional delegation, or in developing strong working relationships with Bowdoin and Bowdoin students. Serving as a partner in shaping architecture and sociology courses related to affordable housing, John has enabled students to engage in research that puts their knowledge to use in the community. Specifically, in a three-year partnership with Professor Craig McEwen and IDEP 240,Maine Social Research, John offered the students the opportunity to interview low-income residents waiting for or receiving Section 8 housing assistance. His efforts enhanced students’ learning, while, in turn, students’ research assisted the Housing Authority in providing more thorough and nuanced reporting at the state and federal levels. John has also dedicated himself to improving the quality of life for all residents of this community by serving on the board of United Way and coaching youth basketball and soccer teams. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to the organization of the recipient’s choice and John has chosen the Tedford Housing.
Rachel Hannah Turkel '11 (Mathematics and Philosophy) was excited about the opportunities for students to be involved in service work in Brunswick and the surrounding area before ever arriving at Bowdoin. Rachel’s introduction to the local community came as a participant in the McKeen Center’s Community Immersion pre-orientation program. During her trip, Rachel learned about some of the challenges locals face. Since then, she has regularly participated in community services both on and off-campus. During her sophomore year Rachel traveled to New Mexico on an Alternative Spring Break trip to examine public health issues through work with middle school students and conversations with health advocates from a Native American reservation in Gallup, NM. After taking Professor Bell's course Global Health Matters, Rachel solidified her interest in public health. To learn more about these issues in communities abroad, Rachel volunteered at the Little Field Home, an orphanage in rural Malawi. While there Rachel taught the orphans English, helped with the Home's new on-site health clinic, and initiated her own research project - a survey of local women about maternal health care. This project quickly became one of the most inspiring parts of her summer experience. In talking to women in the village, she learned that small changes, like providing free transportation to the local hospital, could easily make the difference between life and death. Since returning to Bowdoin for her junior year, Rachel has continued to work with the McKeen Center as the student office coordinator, author of Service News, and a member of the Common Good Grant Committee.
Growing up in Camden, NJ, Zulmarie Bosque '11 (Government & Legal Studies and Spanish) knew that life would be very different once she moved to Maine to study at Bowdoin. As a first generation college student, she also knew how important it was to succeed. Faced with multiple challenges, she embraced every opportunity to make the best of all situations. Early on at Bowdoin Zulmarie became involved in the Latin American Student Organization and the Women’s Resource Center. As a sophomore, she traveled with other students to volunteer with Safe Passage in Guatemala with an Alternative Spring Break trip, and hopes to lead the trip as a senior. In the local community, Zulmarie prepared tax returns for low-income families through the CA$H Coalition student volunteer program and has volunteered consistently with Adnil, an organization that works to process visa’s for seasonal migrant workers and international students. Her contributions have influenced the culture of the College more broadly as well. With the Office of Residential Life, Zulmarie has eagerly embraced opportunities to serve on the selection committees for staff and will assume responsibilities as a Proctor during her senior year. Her eagerness to engage with as many people as she can connects her to myriad students, faculty and staff with many interests and backgrounds. Her generosity of spirit and efforts to create an environment where the common good is valued is evident by the respect she garners from her peers - particularly as she is willing to share herself and the challenges she has overcome in order to assist others who find themselves in similar situations. Through all of this, Zulmarie has grown to become a model of perseverance and leadership with a steady commitment to excellence and the welfare of others.
During his Bowdoin career, Brian Toshiro Fry '10 (Economics/Chemistry) has been involved in a multitude of activities across campus and in the community. A member of the men’s ice hockey team, a mentor with Mt. Ararat Middle School and Bears and Cubs, a singer with one of Bowdoin’s all-male a cappella groups, the Longfellows, a volunteer with Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine (SASSMM), a co-leader of Bowdoin Men Against Sexual Violence (BMASV), and an original performer with Speak About It, Brian has connected extensively with the Bowdoin and Brunswick communities and has made significant contributions to both in the process. During his four years, Brian has passionately advocated against sexual assault, sexual violence, and homophobia. Through his work with Speak About It, as well as his leadership in BMASV, Brian has taken great strides in changing the campus culture around sex and relationships. Brian has truly become a respected role model for his peers through his involvement in these student groups. Additionally, through his work with youth in the community, Brian has become an important voice in the greater Brunswick area. As a volunteer with SASSMM, Brian has helped educate middle and high school students about dealing with sexual harassment and sexual violence. Moreover, Brian has been an incredible role model for young boys in the community in his role as a mentor. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to the community organization of the recipient’s choice and Brian has chosen Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine.
Elaine Tsai '10 (Economics/Teaching) has embraced all aspects of student community engagement at Bowdoin by serving, learning, and leading for the common good. As a junior, Elaine took part in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Ecuador that focused on community development and began volunteering with the low-income tax preparation program, CA$H Coalition. The following summer, Elaine pursued her interests in education and educational policy by working with the Mitchell Institute as a summer fellow. In her role there, Elaine co-authored the “Indicators of Higher Education Attainment” 2009 report for the state of Maine and was able to see her work impact the policy-making process. In her senior year, Elaine took her volunteer and academic experiences and put them into action. Interested in cross-cultural approaches to community problem solving, she planned and led a trip to Immokalee, Florida to work with and learn from migrant workers there. She also built upon her experience with CA$H Coalition to form a student service group that recruits and trains other students to be tax preparers. She showed impressive initiative in forming this student group, giving special attention to her relationship with the community partner, and exploring ways to deepen connections between Bowdoin and the community. Additionally, Elaine has completed Bowdoin’s Leadership Development Series, served as a research assistant for the Education Department, and has been a member of the Curriculum Implementation Committee, Bowdoin Women in Business, and the Asian Student Association. In all of her endeavors, Elaine has demonstrated conviction, vision, and creativity.
Pillar is the perfect word to describe Kathleen Claire Flaherty '11 (Sociology and Environmental Studies/History), who serves as a strong and consistent supporter of the community through numerous endeavors. For two years, Kat has been a mentor for a student at Bowdoinham Community School and has volunteered regularly at Tedford Housing’s adult shelter and the Brunswick Teen Center. She originally volunteered on her own at the Brunswick Teen Center, but when she saw that they needed more volunteers she started a student volunteer group to recruit more Bowdoin students to spend time with the teens. During her junior year, she also took on leadership of the Tedford Housing volunteer program, working to increase the participation and effectiveness of volunteers there. Kat has also searched for ways to broaden her understanding of the issues she addresses through direct service. Last fall, she enrolled in Maine Social Research, a community based course offered each semester. She worked with a group of students on a research project for Tedford Housing. Her direct experience with guests of the shelter as a regular volunteer informed her research and her findings in the course have helped her to serve as a better volunteer and student leader for Tedford’s adult shelter. Furthermore, Kat recently organized a soccer tournament to raise money for HIV and AIDS prevention and led a group of her fellow students on a weekend service trip to work with Camp Sunshine. In addition to her extensive involvement in the community, Kat is also a member of Bowdoin’s varsity soccer team, a dedicated student, and in her sophomore year served as the vice president of a college house.
John Fitzgerald is the recipient of the McKeen Center Faculty Awards for Public Engagement which recognize and honor the variety of ways in which faculty work to advance the common good through teaching, scholarship, and service that engages with communities and issues of public concern.
John Fitzgerald, the William D. Shipman Professor of Economics, has dedicated his career to addressing issues of poverty and inequality, through his research, his teaching, and through his engagement in the local community. His research focuses on public economics, including the effects of government welfare and anti-poverty programs on family wellbeing, employment, and marriage and childbearing, in both the United States and New Zealand. He was an honorary fellow at the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Research on Poverty, a center for interdisciplinary research into the causes and consequences of poverty and social inequality in the United States. Additionally, John has been actively engaged in fighting poverty on the local level, through serving on the board of Coastal Economic Development (now named Midcoast Maine Community Action), a non-profit organization that provides services for the low income population; and working with the Maine Center for Economic Policy, writing a monograph on the working poor in Maine. As a current board member of Tedford Housing, he has brought insights from his research to bear on issues related to low-income housing locally. This service has, in turn, informed John’s teaching on public economics and poverty. This semester in “Poverty and Redistribution,” a course that consistently transforms students’ understanding of poverty, John has worked in collaboration with Tedford to involve his students in research that Tedford lacks the time and resources to complete. The students’ research provides much needed information to the organization and, at the same time, inspires students to think critically about ways to address issues of poverty locally and globally. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to the organization of the recipient’s choice and John has chosen the Tedford Housing.
Steven Lavoie, Housekeeper II, will receive the McKeen Center Staff Award for Commitment to Community, which recognizes the significant contributions of Bowdoin staff members who give their time, talent and expertise to benefit the community.
Steve Lavoie grew up in Brunswick and, as a child, was raised to look out for ways he could help in the community. That came handy in 1972 when a brush fire broke out on Church Road and turned into a major woods fire. Driving by, Steve stopped to see if he could give a hand and, not long after that, joined the volunteer fire service in Brunswick. Over the years and after additional fire education and training, Steve became and now serves as lieutenant of the Topsham Fire Department Volunteers. Seeing how important it is to pass along safety support to others, Steve also began to work with junior firefighters. Teenagers can serve with the volunteer firefighters, but require significant training before doing so. As a junior advisor, Steve helps these young men and women learn fire science, how to handle hazardous materials, and how to fight wildfires. In this way, he is equipping the next generation to help the community, too. Steve is also active in the community through his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic benefit society, founded on the principles of charity, unity and fraternity. You will often find Steve and his wife, Anne, serving breakfast with the fraternal organization as a way to raise support for various charities in the local community. With the Knights he also volunteers at St. John's annual bazaar and helps with food drives for communities in Northern Maine. An avid bowler, Steve has participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters annual Bowl for Kids Sake fundraiser for the past 15 years. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to the organization of the recipient’s choice and Steve has chosen the the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine.
Jessica Ellen Britt '10 and Drew Rotondo Trafton '10 received The Common Good Book Award, which is presented to recognize Bowdoin seniors whose efforts to further Bowdoin’s commitment to the common good through leadership in service and coursework is undertaken with a humanitarian view of the world.
Jessica Ellen Britt '10 (Government & Legal Studies/Spanish) first connected with the McKeen Center as a first-year on a Midcoast Community Immersion Pre-Orientation trip. Following this introduction to the greater Brunswick community, Jess sustained her connection as a mentor to a 5th grader in the area, whom she followed to a new school when her mentee moved up to 6th grade. After spending time abroad during her junior year, Jess reconnected to the community as the coordinator of Common Good Day. In this role, she connected over 600 students, faculty, and staff with over 60 organizations across midcoast Maine. Over the summer, Jess was also instrumental in starting the Word on the Street Assessment Project aimed to assess the role of the McKeen Center on campus and student opinions of the common good. During her senior year, Jess continued work on the Word on the Street by facilitating and transcribing focus groups. Additionally, she has been compiling stories of how students and alumni have contributed to the common good and writing profiles on these individuals. Also this year, Jess was able to connect her service interests with her academics in a community-based course, The Politics of Development. In this course, she helped the Maine Office of Multicultural Affairs compile data on refugee populations in Maine. Her project provided vital reports for the state as they try to better understand the immigrant populations in Maine. Building on this interest in international development, Jess participated in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Guatemala in March of 2010 to volunteer with Safe Passage.
As an Environmental Studies major, Drew Rotondo Trafton '10 (Romance Languages and Environmental Studies/Biology) appreciated the value of learning while giving back to the community. Through a GIS course, Drew and other students helped the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust with their strategic planning by mapping their conservation priorities. In his Environmental Policy and Politics course, Drew helped develop and administer a survey to garner community perceptions of the Androscoggin River. He then focused on issues of transportation while working with classmates to develop climate action plans for the Towns of Brunswick and Topsham in his ES capstone course. In all these classes, Drew invested himself beyond the expectations of the course. The summer between his sophomore and junior year, through a Doherty Coastal Studies Research Fellowship, Drew worked with Professor John Lichter (Biology) and fish biologists Michael Brown (Dept. of Marine Resources) to sample fish in Merrymeeting Bay and its tributaries in support of habitat restoration efforts. The following summer, capitalizing on his involvement with the Bowdoin Outing Club, Drew bridged his academic and extra-curricular interests by serving as a Psi Upsilon Fellow working for the Maine Island Trails Association (MITA) to support their work of overseeing the promotion and management of ecologically responsible recreation on more than 150 of Maine’s coastal islands. Currently, as leader of the student group Taste for Change, Drew organizes gourmet dinners to raise awareness about and benefit community organizations including Partners in Health (for Haiti Relief) and Safe Passage, where he spent spring break of his senior year volunteering through the Alternative Spring Break program.