Advancing the Common Good
through Community Service at Bowdoin College

Lisa Peterson '07

Lisa Peterson '07

Lisa Peterson '07

Major: Psychology
Minor: English
Hometown: Pembroke, MA

Service activities:

  • Alternative Fall Break at Camp Sunshine, '04, '05
  • America Reads/ Counts, '03-present
  • Bears and Cubs (mentoring program) '03-'05, Co-leader '05
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters community mentoring program, '05-present
  • Circle K, Founder '03-'04, President '04-'06, New England District Board '06-present
  • Class of 2007 Community Service Officer, '05-present
  • Common Good Grant Committee, '03-'06 / Extension Committee, '06-'07
  • Common Good Day, '03, '04, '05, '06
  • Community Service Council, '03-present, Co-President '06-present
  • Community Immersion Pre-Orientation Service Trip, '03
  • Community Immersion Pre-Orientation Leader '04, '05
  • Community Matters in Maine Fellowship, Pre-Orientation Student Director, Summer '06
  • Community Action Fellowship, spring '06 (Independence Assoc.)

How did you first get involved in service at Bowdoin?

I came to Bowdoin looking to start a Circle K club to continue my involvement with the Kiwanis family. I was immediately drawn to the Community Immersion Pre-O trip, which was one of my favorite service activities at Bowdoin. It allowed me to connect with the CSRC and like-minded students. I feel like everything I have done since then was made possible by the people I met and the experiences I had on the trip. The power of community service continually astounds me — how it has bound Bowdoin to the surrounding community and Bowdoin students to one another.

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

Throughout my time here, I have learned a lot from volunteering. Working in the community has allowed me to really understand social issues and to discover a passion for social justice I never knew I had. I gained a more comprehensive knowledge of the world of non-profits and philanthropy, as well as all the different ways service can be defined.

In high school, I thought of service in a very narrow way - as direct service. Most of the projects I did centered on children and the elderly. Now I have begun to see service more globally — as having the ability to affect change. I also see that it encompasses other ways of helping — donating funds/supplies, educating people about an issue, and indirect service as simple as stuffing envelopes and scraping paint.

My experiences with community service have complicated my life goals in a significant and unique way. I realize now that I am happiest when working toward making an impact, even if only in the smallest of ways. Because my involvement has spanned across different kinds of groups and positions, I have been able to get a well-rounded experience I never expected to have and a sense of compassion for more issues than I ever knew existed. Most of all, I have formed relationships with organizations and people that I will never forget.

What does it mean to serve the common good?

For me, serving the common good can be defined in several ways. I believe academic institutions such as Bowdoin have a responsibility to give back to the community. Our privilege obligates us to help others less fortunate. I also focus on the "common" part of the common good, that serving the common good is an attempt to ensure everyone has equal opportunities and access to everything to which humans have a right. How an individual chooses to help others depends entirely on what he/she has to offer and is valid in its own right.

Story posted on April 06, 2007

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