Advancing the Common Good
through Community Service at Bowdoin College

Michael Larochelle '08

Michael Larochelle '08

Michael Larochelle '08

Major: Biology
Minor: Chemistry
Hometown: Bangor, ME

Service Activities:

  • Habitat for Humanity, Bowdoin Chapter 2004-2005
  • Bears and Cubs Mentoring Program 2004-2006
  • America Reads/Counts tutor 2006-Present, program coordinator 2006-2007, program director 2007-present
  • Common Good Day 2006
  • Mid Coast Hospital Volunteer Program, 2007
  • Service Learning Courses: Sociology 215 – Criminology and Criminal Justice, Spring 2007 & Interdisciplinary Studies 240 – Maine Social Research, Spring 2008

How did you first get involved in service at Bowdoin?

My first exposure to community service at Bowdoin was during the fall semester of my freshman year. Through the Bears and Cubs Program, I served as a mentor for a ten year-old boy who lived in the local area. I was fortunate enough to be paired with him for a period of two years, after which he “graduated” into the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program. Since my sophomore year, I have enjoyed working for Bowdoin's America Reads/Counts Program. In my first year with the Program, I tutored at the first grade level in two local elementary schools. This work involved one-on-one tutoring as well as teaching larger groups of students in the classroom. During the academic year 2006-2007, I served as the program coordinator at Durham Elementary School, where I also worked with first-graders on reading. As a senior, I became the Student Director for the America Reads/Counts Program. My responsibilities include handling logistical issues such as scheduling for approximately fifty Bowdoin tutors and serving as a program liaison for eight local schools.

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

Over the past four years, participating in service activities in the local community has been a very enjoyable experience. Bowdoin is a prestigious academic institution which provides students with a wealth of opportunities to become involved in the Brunswick community. In addition to pursuing my passion for helping others and making a difference, service activities here have helped me further develop my skills as a leader. Through Service Learning Courses in particular I have gained a better understanding of relevant social issues that face the Maine citizens. In Criminology and Criminal Justice with Professor Lohmann, I worked on a project in conjunction with Volunteers of America (Northern New England) which investigated the issue of elder abuse in Maine. We created a profile of elder abuse shelters that exist throughout the United States with the goal of generating a model for similar shelters in our state. In the Maine Social Research class with Professor McEwen, we are studying issues of housing affordability in Maine and will be conducting research that will hopefully contribute to policymaking decisions. All of these activities have contributed to an enlightening exposure to the plights and struggles of many members of our society.

What does it mean to serve the common good?

To me, serving the common good means using your time, energy, and skill to contribute to the well-being of others. Bowdoin students are fortunate to attend an excellent academic institution in a small town environment. Giving back through service activities allows us to show our appreciation to both the Bowdoin and to the Brunswick communities and to the people who make it what it is. “Serving the common good” is a valuable and enriching experience that all students should embrace as part of their growth and maturation here at Bowdoin College.

Story posted on April 23, 2008

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