Posted October 18, 2010
In the summer of 2002, he worked as a teacher at Summerbridge San Francisco, a program that strives to prepare motivated and talented public and parochial students with limited educational opportunities to enter and thrive in academically-challenging high schools, colleges, and beyond. While a positive experience overall, it was undeniably sobering. For these kids, it wasn't just about "working harder"; larger, social inequities were hindering their development.
When Jeff returned to Bowdoin that fall, the theory and practice of social justice became his focus. He took three classes with then Sociology Professor Jonathan White on poverty and hunger, giving him a more critical lens through which to see the policies that had shaped the lives of his Summerbridge students.
Recognizing the urgency of hunger and poverty in the US, Jeff worked as a program associate for the St. Anthony's Foundation in San Francisco after graduating from Bowdoin and prior to starting medical school. A multi-service nonprofit serving the city's poorest residents, Jeff coordinated and educated volunteers, participated in advocacy events, and helped serve meals in the Foundation's dining room.
Passionate about advancing social justice through medicine and public health, Jeff was selected this year as a one of twenty-five Harvard University Zuckerman Fellows, a year-long leadership development program preparing individuals for careers in public service. As a Fellow, Jeff is pursuing his Master of Public Health degree at the Harvard School of Public Health.
While the belief in the common good resonated within him prior to college, Jeff believes that it was at Bowdoin where his sense of and commitment to service matured. "Learning from my classmates, many of whom were so engaged in social issues, was a rich source of inspiration," Jeff recalls. "I'd encourage to those at Bowdoin to get involved early and often."
“Let your college experience be defined not only by the books you read, the classrooms you frequent, or the professors who teach you, but also by the community around you. There’s a whole world out there in which to get involved.”