Advancing the Common Good
through Community Service at Bowdoin College

Ponnila Samuel '07

Ponnila Samuel '07

Ponnila Samuel '07

Major: Biochemistry
Minor: English
Hometown: Biddeford, Maine

Service activities:

  • Bowdoin College Up 'til Dawn Executive Board, Fundraising Campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 2003 - Present
  • Baldwin Center Academic Mentor and Tutor, 2004 - Present
  • Media Smart Kids, 2005-Present

How did you first get involved in service at Bowdoin?

My first involvement with community service at Bowdoin came through the Community Immersion Pre-Orientation trip. I was thrilled to meet so many other students who had the same passion for and commitment to serving and returning to the community the gifts they themselves had been given. As one fellow Pre-O peer said at the close of that experience, "It is our responsibility, our obligation to give back to our communities." This is a message I have carried with me throughout my years at Bowdoin and one that I will continue to embody wherever my future path takes me.

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

My primary service experience at Bowdoin has been through a fundraising campaign called Up 'til Dawn for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which I have co-organized since my first year of college. I became involved with St. Jude primarily as a result of my interest in medicine. As a research hospital, St. Jude conducts cutting edge research in a variety of oncology-related fields. What is more important, though, is the fact that St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world. Their mission to alleviate childhood cancer erases unnecessary competition and focuses on the child. It is a mission that I, too, hope to adopt and a standard to which I hope to live up as I pursue a career in medicine.

Collectively, Up 'til Dawn has raised over $30,000 for the children at St. Jude. Knowing that my efforts have been targeted towards maintaining the hospital and supporting the research that saves the lives of so many children has made this the most satisfying and rewarding community service experience in which I have participated at Bowdoin College.

What does it mean to serve the common good?

I believe that the responsibility to serve the community with compassion, eagerness, and dedication is the epitome we should all be looking to emulate in our aspirations to "serve the common good."

Story posted on March 27, 2007

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