Story posted June 05, 2006
Kenneth E. Legins Jr., Class of 1992, has been honored by the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees with the 2006 Common Good Award, presented June 3 during Reunion weekend.
The Common Good Award honors those Bowdoin alumni who have "demonstrated an extraordinary, profound, and sustained commitment to the common good, in the interest and for the benefit of society, with conspicuous disregard for personal gains in wealth or status." It was established on the occasion of the Bowdoin College Bicentennial in 1994, and is presented each year during Reunion Convocation.
Kenneth E. Legins Jr. has dedicated his life and career to health education, children's advocacy, and women's rights. He has been a constant leader in HIV/AIDS education, bringing him to all corners of the world, from Maine to New York, to Denmark and Japan, and most recently to China. He has worked in hospitals, schools, and clinics, understanding that a broad scope is necessary to reach the people who are in the greatest need of help.
Raised in Millinocket, Maine, Legins graduated from Stearns High School and was admitted to Bowdoin in the fall of 1988. He helped establish Safe Space, a sexual assault student organization, and was a member of the Bowdoin Dance Group and Delta Sigma. He volunteered for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, for whom he designed and taught sexual health curricula to adolescents at the Maine Youth Correctional Facility in Portland, Maine. He earned his A.B. in biology and sociology with a concentration in women's studies.
After Bowdoin he attended Emory University School of Medicine where he worked primarily with minority and foreign-born populations, conducting patient intakes, and supportive and educational counseling, and assisted in clinical procedures. He earned his master's degree in public health at Yale University School of Medicine in 1995. While there, he became the Project Coordinator for the National HIV/AIDS Incarcerated Women's Study.
While working for the New York City Department of Health's Bureau of Tuberculosis Control, he began consulting for the World Health Organization (WHO). His work brought him to Ukraine and Albania during the war in the Balkans, where he worked with women and children exposed to the devastation and violence of war. These experiences led him to focus on family health, HIV/AIDS education, and communication campaigns. In 2001 Legins accepted a position with UNICEF, and since 2004 he has led the HIV/AIDS Programme in China.
Legins currently lives in Beijing, China, where he enjoys hiking unrestored portions of the Great Wall, and biking in Beijing traffic. He returns to Maine annually to visit and to fish and hike Mount Katahdin with family and friends.
Bowdoin College Common Good Award recipients personify the idea of the common good as set forth by Bowdoin's first president, Joseph McKeen. In his inaugural address on September 2, 1802, McKeen stated, "It ought always to be remembered that literary institutions are founded and endowed for the common good and not for the private advantage of those who resort to them for education. It is not that they may be able to pass through life in an easy and reputable manner, but that their mental powers may be cultivated and improved for the benefit of society."