Story posted May 07, 2012
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 6th. 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.
Abishag "Abby" Suresh '12 and Claude Rwaganje of Community Financial Literacy 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.
Abby Suresh (Neuroscience) has demonstrated an abiding commitment to improving the quality of life for the underserved locally, nationally, and internationally. A quiet leader, Abby’s dedication to helping others enjoy healthier lives extends beyond her pre-med requirements and honors research in Neuroscience to her service as a Global Citizens Grant recipient providing health workshops and healthy gardens for women and girls in an impoverished community in Nicaragua. This same humble spirit of service defines Abby’s volunteer work at the Sunnybrook Village retirement community, where she has carved out time weekly to play the piano or visit with the elderly, and at Mid Coast Hospital, where, as a spiritual care volunteer, she has devoted herself to understanding and seeking to lighten the burdens of patients. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to the community organization of the recipient’s choice and Abby has chosen Preble Street.
Claude Rwaganje is the Founder and Executive Director of Community Financial Literacy, a Portland-based nonprofit created in 2008 that is dedicated to providing refugees, immigrants, and low-income Mainers with the financial literacy skills they need in order to achieve financial stability and improve their quality of life. A refugee himself, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Claude realized the incredible barriers to integration and stability posed by refugees’ and immigrants’ lack of basic understanding of and access to U.S. economic institutions. In response, he developed CFL to offer free classes that have taught hundreds of refugees essential tools for setting short and long-term goals, saving for education or home buying, or for starting small businesses. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to Community Financial Literacy.
Andrew Hollis Cushing '12 received the General R. H. Dunlap Prize. This prize was established by Katherine Wood Dunlap in memory of her husband, Brigadier General Robert H. Dunlap, USMC and is awarded to the student who composes the best essay on the subject of service in addition to having demonstrated a personal contribution to service.
In his career at Bowdoin, Andrew Cushing (History & Environmental Studies) has found ways to connect his passions with his academic pursuits. He has volunteered with the Bowdoin Organic Garden, Sustainable Bowdoin, and the Green Global initiatives, and utilized a visual arts course on the built environment to connect with his interest in preservation through a project focused on restoring a freight shed in Bath as a year-round farmer’s market. He has worked to bring people together by connecting his work with Residential Life to projects for Habitat for Humanity, by helping Maine high school students consider college through the Aspirations in ME program and the Mt. Ararat Middle School Bike Club, and, recently, by organizing a Weekend Service Trip to his hometown of Grafton, NH to help restore a one room school house.
Macy Galvan '12 received the Henni Friedlander Student Prize. This prize was established in memory of Henni Friedlander who survived Nazi Germany to immigrate to the United States, where she was an inspiring example of how joy of life can lift the human spirit and enable us as a society to promote the common good and is awarded to a Bowdoin undergraduate who has similarly overcome adversity in his or her own life and gone on to contribute to the common good.
Macy Galvan (Gender and Womens Studies & Sociology) receives this award in recognition of her constant drive to learn about and contribute to new communities, both in the United States and abroad. As a leader in the Alternative Spring Break program, Macy inspired in her group a drive to fully immerse themselves in the migrant farm worker community of Immokalee, Florida. As a Global Citizen she traveled to Delhi, India where she taught photography and English, and developed a library lending system at a school for underprivileged youth. This year, Macy served as the McKeen Fellow for the Alternative Spring Break program, helping to coordinate the service experiences of 100 students over break, and this summer she will serve as the Leadership Resident for the Harpswell Foundation, providing English lessons and mentoring to women attending university in Cambodia.
This award recognizes and honors 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.
Mariana Cruz, Postdoctoral Fellow in Education, has inspired and changed the lives of students by teaching them how to use their intellectual curiosity and creativity to make a positive difference in the lives of Latinos and other minorities. Through guiding her students in the development of a now widely-circulated resource guide for Mid Coast Hospital on the needs of Latino patients, and a research report on how to create a safehouse for the women of Tengo Voz, a community of Latina women in Portland who have been victims of domestic violence, Mariana has enabled her students to see the transformative power of learning for the benefit of society as they have collaborated with and advanced the work of community organizations. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to the community organization of the recipient’s choice and Mariana has chosen Mano en Mano.
For over 20 years, Ed Laine, Associate Professor of Earth & Oceanographic Science, has been connecting his students’ learning to issues in the community, providing data and information to local organizations while helping countless geology and oceanography students grapple with real-world learning in the context of scientific study. Since his early days of teaching, Ed sought ways to incorporate community-based learning into his courses, but these efforts were effectively transformed when he began to practice problem-based service-learning. Over the next 10 years, Ed not only revised his own teaching, but went on to influence the development of community-based learning at Bowdoin and throughout New England as a well-regarded faculty consultant for the Northern New England Faculty Consulting Program through Maine Campus Compact. Ed has cultivated partnerships with various organizations in addition to establishing a long-term partnership with the Friends of Casco Bay, where students have consistently conducted water quality tests and ecological assessments. Throughout, Ed has infused generous humility and humor into his interactions with students, colleagues, and community members alike, managing the partnerships required to facilitate projects with multiple stakeholders as a powerful learning tool with community implications. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to the community organization of the recipient’s choice and Ed has chosen the Friends of Casco Bay.
Judith R. Montgomery, Associate Librarian, received 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.
Judy Montgomery has made a singular contribution to fostering dialogue and understanding about class and economic differences in the Mid Coast region as the coordinator of the 2012 Brunswick-Bowdoin Community Read, which brought together students, faculty, staff, and many members of the Brunswick community in in-depth conversations about difficult and challenging socioeconomic issues. The founder of the College’s very successful annual "Children's Celebration of Martin Luther King Jr." at Hawthorne-Longfellow Library and a dedicated member of the Board of Directors for Tedford Housing, Judy demonstrates a deep commitment to promoting understanding and tolerance, as well as extensive experience working to address poverty and end homelessness in the Mid Coast area. Accompanying this award is a $100 donation to the community organization of the recipient’s choice and Judy has chosen Tedford Housing.
Mariya Ilyas '13 received the MCC Heart and Soul Award. This award is given annually to six undergraduate students across the state who have been actively involved in turning their campuses and communities into places of democracy by raising their voices on issues of local and global importance through civic engagement efforts.
Mariya Ilyas (Mathematics & Sociology/Government & Legal Studies) has inspired others by advocating for resources for poor and marginalized populations through her commitment to journalism as a tool for raising awareness and fostering dialogue and understanding, and through engaging others in learning about issues of homelessness as an Alternative Spring Break leader. An immigrant from Pakistan, Mariya has promoted educational opportunities for other immigrants as a Weekend Service Trip leader to Mano en Mano in Downeast Maine, and as a site director for the Let’s Get Ready SAT prep program in Portland. Through her Davis Projects for Peace award in 2011, she shared her passion for democratic discourse and dialogue by developing a journalism program for and with students in her first home, Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Amar J. Patel '13 recieved the MCC Student PILLARS Award. This award is given annually to one student from each Maine college campus who supports the civic efforts of others and takes leadership roles in addressing and finding solutions to issues that face their communities through Philanthropy, Innovation, Learning, Leadership, Action, Responsibility, and Service.
Amar Patel (Economics/Government & Legal Studies) has taken advantage of every opportunity he can find to be involved in and learn from local communities. As a sophomore he joined the Common Good Grant committee to explore philanthropy and provide resources to Maine organizations and in the same year began volunteering for the Volunteer Lawyers Project and Pine Tree Legal Assistance. A Community Matters in Maine summer fellow with the Maine Center for Economic Policy in 2011, Amar modeled an ideal learning experience by transforming his summer work into a recently published independent study research project on the impact of buying local. These experiences, combined with his leadership in Community Immersion Pre-Orientation trips and Common Good Day, illustrate Amar’s dedication to the common good
This award recognizes a student organization or campus department at each MCC member institution for contributions to community service, service learning, and civic engagement efforts on their campus.
Over the last decade, Keisha Payson’s work at the helm of Sustainable Bowdoin has led to the development of the College’s landmark sustainability effort that has engaged the entire campus community. Empowering students as leaders through initiatives such as Eco Service Day, the EcoRep program, and campus-wide energy conservation challenges has created visibility for sustainable initiatives. Her equally important efforts throughout the operations of the College include the development of an environmental mission statement that increased recycling rates and led to a climate action plan, an improved waste management system, environmental purchasing and building practices, an organic garden, and the use of sustainable energy technologies including solar, geothermal, and co-generation steam sources. Keisha’s work has been at the core of Bowdoin’s success in creating a campus culture of sustainability.