Advancing the Common Good
through Community Service at Bowdoin College

Laura Belden '08

Laura Belden '08

Laura Belden '08

Major: Sociology
Minor: Biology
Hometown: Cranford, NJ

Service Activities:

  • Alternative Spring Break co-leader: Su Parque en Peru, 2008
  • Blood Drive Committee, 2005-present
  • Community Service Council, 2005-present
  • Service Learning Course: gathered Food Insecurity Statistics in MidCoast Maine for United Way, Fall 2007
  • Breast Cancer Walk participant 2004, 2005, 2007
  • Common Good Day 2004-2005
  • MidCoast Hospital Volunteer 2005
  • High School Biology tutor 2004

How did you first get involved in service at Bowdoin?

Common Good Day my freshman year was the first time I participated in service at Bowdoin and it was a great introduction into what type of opportunities the College and community offer. After that, I wanted to find a service activity or organization with whom I could work more closely and so I began to tutor a local high school student in Biology. My second semester at Bowdoin, I became a member of the Blood Drive Committee, an organization on campus that works with the Red Cross to host drives on campus, which I eventually became the leader of. It's the perfect service experience for me because it combines my interest in health care and medicine with an effort that directly benefits those in need. Because blood can not be manufactured, donors are imperative in saving the lives of patients needing treatment for serious illness and injury.

What have you gained from your service experience and working in the community?

A world outside of Bowdoin does exist. It is far too easy to be blinded by the "bubble" to which Bowdoin is referred and remain unaware of the social issues and needs of the larger community. Being involved in service and working in the community has enabled me to adopt a broader perspective and grasp the importance of cooperative efforts aimed at improving the world around us. A large part of why I decided to participate in the ASB trip to Peru is so that, not only can I have a direct impact on the local people, but also so that my perspective will expand even further. I can not imagine that working in the shantytowns of Lima and experiencing the abject poverty the Peruvians in this area live in would have any less of an effect.

What does it mean to serve the common good?

In 1802, President Joseph McKeen said in his Inaugural Address, "...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 enabled to pass through life in an easy or reputable manner, but that their mental powers may be cultivated and improved for the benefit of society." This epitomizes what serving the common good is all about- selfless devotion to improving the lives of others and not just oneself. Serving for the common good ultimately means that you are living for others and working toward the betterment of society.

Story posted on March 03, 2008

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