Advancing the Common Good
through Community Service at Bowdoin College

Jonathan Rosenthal '06

Jonathan Rosenthal

Jonathan Rosenthal '06

Major: Government and Legal Studies (Concentration in American Government)
Minor: Education
Hometown: Reading, Massachusetts

Service Activities at Bowdoin and elsewhere

  • Brunswick Junior High School Mentoring Program
    • Co-director 2003-2004
  • Common Good Day, Spokesperson, 2004
  • Community Immersion Pre-Orientation program
    • Volunteer, August 2002
    • Leader, August 2003-2005
  • Youth Enrichment Program, Phillips Brooks House Summer Urban Program, Harvard University.
    • Senior Counselor, June-August 2004, 2005

How did you first get involved in service at Bowdoin?
I initially got involved with community service when I signed up for the Community Immersion Pre-Orientation trip before my first year. It was the first time that this type of pre-orientation trip was offered to incoming students. When I noticed that this "Community Immersion" trip was being offered, I realized that it was the perfect chance for me to meet and interact with new people, get familiar with the local area, and, most importantly, do community service work in and around Greater Brunswick and Portland. I wanted to take advantage of this unique opportunity of coming to campus early and meeting my classmates. Also, since community service was such a big part of my life in high school, I wanted to continue this at Bowdoin. The great things about my pre-o experience were the connections, friends, and contacts that I made while working on various service projects. Then, a couple of weeks into my first semester I was heard about other community service organizations at Bowdoin. Through word-of-mouth and the annual student activities fair, I was became a mentor at Brunswick Junior High School and subsequently became Co-Director of the Brunswick Junior High School Mentoring Program.

What have you gained from your service experiences and working in the community?
My service experiences and working in the community have been nothing short of fantastic and, most importantly, rewarding. My experiences have helped me grow as a person in ways that I never thought possible. One thing that I have realized about community service at Bowdoin is that people are genuine in what they want to accomplish and they view community service as something to take pride in because it is the right thing to do. Helping those in need is a virtue that is not contingent on something else. As my Native American grandmother once told me, "Jon, do good for the sake of doing good, nothing else."

What does it mean to serve the common good?
I am not completely sure what it means "to serve the common good." Lots of times I ask myself that very question. Bowdoin College's mission is the promotion of the common good but there does not seem to be a clear, succinct definition or explanation that gives the answer I am looking for. But, if you look closely, not having a definitive answer is a positive. Not defining or constraining what "common good" means enables us to do a multitude of community service projects, and initiatives without having to make sure they fit into a strictly designated set of deeds. The ambiguity allows us to do many things to help those in need. While I am not quite sure what exactly goes into serving or promoting the common good, one thing I do know is that serving the common good enables me to help others help themselves and create positive social change.

Story posted on February 02, 2006

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