Joseph McKeen
Center for the Common Good

Rachel Turkel
Class of 2011

Posted March 08, 2010

Rachel Turkel '11 connected with the McKeen Center (then the Community Service Resource Center) before ever coming to Bowdoin.  Conversations with Center director Susie Dorn left her truly excited about the enthusiasm and opportunities for students to be involved in service work at Bowdoin in the greater Brunswick area.

Rachel participated in Bowdoin's Community Immersion pre-orientation; got to know some of the non-profits in Mid-Coast Maine and was introduced to some of the serious problems in Brunswick, including hunger, homelessness, and poverty and the great need for volunteers. Since then, she has participated in community services both on and off-campus.

Last spring Rachel traveled with the Alternative Spring Break trip New Health Awareness in New Mexico. Students examined public health issues by working with middle schoolers and talking with health advocates from a Native American reservation in Gallup, New Mexico.

As her interest in public health grew, (particularly after taking Professor Bell's course SOC 224 "Global Health Matters") Rachel decided to volunteer at the Little Field Home, an orphanage in rural Malawi. She applied for and receive the Career Planning Center's PPICF grant to support this project.

At the Home, Rachel spent time teaching the orphans English and helping with the Home's new on-site health clinic. She also started her own project - a survey of local women about maternal health care  This turned into 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, as a lack of transportation forces women to use midwives, which contributes to an extremely high infant mortality rate. This experience solidified Rachel's interest in public health.

Currently Rachel is working as the McKeen Center Student Coordinator and serving for the third year on Common Good Grant Committee.

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“I have gained a tremendous appreciation for Maine, and Brunswick in particular. I am constantly impressed by the connections between Bowdoin students and the local residents.”