Joseph McKeen
Center for the Common Good

Melanie Gaynes
Class of 2013

Posted February 13, 2012

During her first year at Bowdoin, Melanie Gaynes '13 (Sociology/Chemistry) had her first contact with the McKeen Center as a mentor for Bears and Cubs. While she enjoyed working with kids and knew that she was interested in public health, she was unsure how to get involved.

Sophomore year Melanie researched local health organizations and began volunteering at Healthline, the community health outreach unit at Mid Coast Hospital. While volunteering she learned about the health disparities among diverse populations in Maine. At the same time, she was enrolled in the course Latinos and Latinas in the United States, a community-based course in the Latin American Studies Department taught by Predoctoral Fellow Mariana Cruz. For the final project, Melanie wanted to combine what she learned at Healthline with the course. Her group created a Cultural Competency Booklet for Medical Professionals in Maine who work with the Latino population that was then passed back to Mid Coast Hospital. She continued pursuing her interest in public health by studying the healthcare system in Chile during her summer abroad in Santiago.

Last year, Melanie traveled to Beards Fork, West Virginia on an Alternative Spring Break trip, where she helped build community gardens in rural towns. She will be returning this spring break as a trip leader to work with the Southern Appalachian Labor School on housing projects.

Melanie went on a Weekend Service Trip her freshman year to Camp Sunshine and organized a trip last year to The Carpenter’s Boat Shop. This year she has taken a leadership role in the program as the McKeen Fellow for Weekend Service Trips.

This summer Melanie will continue her involvement in the McKeen Center as the Common Good Day Coordinator and will pursue her interest in public health through an internship at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"My service experiences have taught me the importance of analyzing the ways in which the structure of our society creates inequality. While active service is important, we need to think about how we can affect change on a broader scale to decrease the inequality that makes service work so necessary."

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“Serving the common good means looking beyond your individual needs and desires. It means taking action to make your community a safer, healthier place to live.”
— Melanie Gaynes '13