About 1,000 students, more than half of the student body, participate in McKeen Center programs each year. Some pursue community-engaged research, others go on Alternative Break trips, and still more volunteer every week to mentor kids, do outdoor work, help out at a local hospice, or deliver food to a food bank.
Out of this large group, the McKeen Center each year highlights a few students, staff, and community members for their outstanding contributions to the community at its annual Awards Ceremony for Community Engagement and Commitment to the Common Good.
Henni Friedlander Student Prize: Sylvia Jimenez ’19
The Henni Friedlander Student Prize was established in memory of Henni Friedlander who survived Nazi Germany to immigrate to the United States, where she was an inspiring example of how joy of life can lift the human spirit and enable us as a society to promote the common good. This Prize is awarded to a Bowdoin undergraduate who has similarly overcome adversity in his or her own life and gone on to contribute to the common good.
A native of Puerto Rico, Jimenez quickly got to work when her island was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria last September. “She was active from the start to make sure Bowdoin was aware of what was going on and responding to it,” McKeen Center Director Sarah Seames said. Jimenez collaborated with the Latin American Student Organization and other student groups, college houses, the Latin American Studies Program, and local businesses to raise awareness and funds — approximately $6,000 in total. She also helped plan and co-lead an exploratory Alternative Spring Break trip in March to Puerto Rico for five students to learn about disaster relief efforts on the ground. In Puerto Rico, the group established relationships between Bowdoin and community organizations for potential future collaborations. “She worked throughout the year to make sure no one was forgetting what was going on in Puerto Rico and to keep us all accountable and paying attention,” Seames said.
Bowdoin Spirit of Service Award: Joyce Kim ’18
The Bowdoin Spirit of Service Award is presented annually to a Bowdoin senior who embraces a genuine commitment to improving the lives of others through service, their actions speaking strongly while they remain humbly quiet.
Joyce Kim has pursued the common good in many ways. In her first year on campus, she began tutoring local students through the America Reads and Counts program, and mentoring students at Mt. Ararat High School through the Bowdoin Volunteer Corps. She quickly took on a leadership role of Mt. Ararat Mentoring, a position she still holds today. In her sophomore year, Kim participated in the Call to Action in Philadelphia Alternative Spring Break trip, and the following summer, worked at the Mitchell Institute in Portland through the Maine Community Fellowship program. In her senior year, Kim sought to deepen her knowledge of nonprofit work and philanthropy by joining the Common Good Grant program, where her years of volunteer experience came to good use in evaluating grant applications. “There’s no doubt that once Joyce commits to something, she steadfastly holds to that commitment,” said presenter Sarah Chingos, who is the McKeen Center associate director for public service. “This unwavering dedication has allowed her to bring strong, very lasting connections to community partners, maximizing her impact in the process.”
Bowdoin Spirit of Service Award: Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick’s Working for Justice Steering Group
The Bowdoin Spirit of Service Award is presented annually to a Bowdoin a community member or group who embrace a genuine commitment to improving the lives of others through service, their actions speaking strongly while they remain humbly quiet.
In 2011, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick adopted a new mission statement: “to be a spiritual community, to welcome all, to nurture one another, to work for justice, and to care for the earth.” In the following year the Working for Justice Steering Group was established and settled on a focus of eliminating prejudice and hate. “The steering group has made Brunswick a healthier and more inclusive town,” said McKeen Center Associate Director Andrew Lardie. The group has also presented events and programs on topics of prison reform and restorative justice. They work in concert with the communities of Maine’s Indigenous Peoples and new Mainers — refugees and asylum seekers — to educate the broader community and to support them in their efforts for justice. “The Working for Justice Steering Group’s wide-reaching and continuing efforts reflect a genuine commitment to improving the lives of others,” Lardie said.
Lydia Bell Award for Initiative in Public Service: Victoria Lowrie ’18
The Lydia Bell Award for Initiative in Public Service is presented annually to a Bowdoin senior who exhibits the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment necessary to initiate and lead opportunities for others to effect change, influencing the Bowdoin culture in the process.
“For four years, I have watched Victoria lead a call to conscience at Bowdoin around mass incarceration and the need for criminal justice reform,” said McKeen Center Associate Director Andrew Lardie. She’s been an effective advocate and communicator, bringing “new campus speakers, new performers, new conversation, new campaigns, new service opportunities for students, and more,” Lardie added. With an interest in the law, she has worked with Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project to provide consultation to low-income clients. As a Maine Community Fellow at the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, she has managed a full caseload of clients seeking to adjust their immigration status. Most recently, Lowrie has interned at the West Bath District Courthouse, assisting Judge Beth Dobson with her daily caseload and writings. Under her leadership, Bowdoin’s Criminal Justice Reform Club has increased its presence on campus, recruiting dozens of students to work with College Guild to administer courses to inmates through the mail. Her efforts have earned her a place on College Guild’s board of directors, and she has capped off her time at Bowdoin by expanding her club’s work to include in-person mentorship to clients at the Long Creek Youth Development Center. “Victoria has changed Bowdoin while developing her own knowledge and experience in respect to the law and justice reform,” Lardie said.
General R.H. Dunlap Prize: Kevin Hernandez ’18
The General R. H. Dunlap Prize was established by Katherine Wood Dunlap in memory of her husband, Brigadier General Robert H. Dunlap, USMC. This prize is awarded to the student who composes the best essay on the subject of service in addition to having demonstrated a personal contribution to service.
Kevin Hernandez has served as a proctor and RA on the Residential Life staff, and in these roles has consistently taken actions to help make Bowdoin a better place, according to presenter Meadow Davis, Bowdoin’s director of residential and student life. This desire to help and strengthen communities has also propelled Hernandez to lead Alternative Spring Break trips and work with healthcare organizations that serve Latino LGBT communities in his native Los Angeles. In his senior year, he developed an Alternative Break trip called Health Beyond Hollywood that had students investigating the wide range of health disparities within the Latinx community. “Kevin thoughtfully studies every community he is part of and strives to meet the real, not imagined, needs of that community,” Davis said. In his efforts to eliminate disparities, Hernandez begins from “an immense sense of passion,” a passion that has carried him through his four years of activism and advocacy at Bowdoin. “Now,” Davis continued, “you have the nuance to walk into a community, understand their needs and then work with them to address them.”
Maine Campus Compact Student PILLARS Award: Diana Furukawa ’18
The Maine Campus Compact Student PILLARS Award is given annually to one student from each Maine college campus who supports the civic efforts of others and takes leadership roles in addressing and finding solutions to issues that face their communities through Philanthropy, Innovation, Learning, Leadership, Action, Responsibility, and Service.
This award’s acronym, PILLAR, stands for philanthropy, innovation, learning, leadership, action, responsibility, and service. Presenter Matt Gee, who is the McKeen Center’s assistant director, noted that it is a perfect reflection of Furukawa’s approach to service. “She has been an innovative leader, working tirelessly to increase other students’ understanding of the complexity of communities,” he said, and to uncover and alleviate the consequences of systemic oppression. As coordinator of Community Immersion Orientation trips for two summers, Furukawa collaborated with dozens of community partners from across the state to create community-engagement opportunities for first-year students. Recognizing that students with underrepresented identities often have a more difficult time adjusting to life at Bowdoin, she also created a series of inclusivity trainings for all orientation trip leaders that increased their sensitivity to this issue. Additionally, she worked to “shift campus culture toward more race consciousness and inclusion” as a member of The Undiscussed and Intergroup Dialogue student groups. She has also been an ally to the Passamaquoddy, significantly strengthening Bowdoin’s connection to the tribe through her consistent presence and unprecedented commitment to deepening her understanding of the tribe and its history. From the first day Gee met Furukawa, he said she’s impressed him with her ” thoughtfulness, her kindness, and her commitment to understanding and improving the lives of others.”
Maine Campus Compact Donald Harward Award for Faculty Service Learning Excellence: Visiting Assistant Professor of Art and Digital and Computational Studies Erin Johnson
The Donald Harward Award for Faculty Service-Learning Excellence recognizes faculty who integrate community or public service into the curriculum and who work to institutionalize service-learning.
Erin Johnson “has had a vision about what her students can learn about beyond the classroom,” McKeen Center Sarah Seames said, “and has elevated the idea of community-engaged learning here at Bowdoin.” Johnson’s courses address community needs, and encourage students to take an innovative approach to helping break down the challenges faced by disadvantaged people in the communities around them. In the course Site Specifics: Production of Socially Engaged Media, Johnson’s students examined two Brunswick landmarks, Fort Andross and the Androscoggin River, in the historical contexts of race, class, gender inequalities, and the environment. In her Art, Technology, and Design for Social Change class, students partnered with two organizations in Portland to creatively advocate for expanding affordable housing in Maine and for expanding public transportation between housing areas where many refugees and immigrants live and the workplaces that tend to hire them. In her courses, Johnson matches student-learning objectives with community-identified challenges to provide opportunities for students to “use creative thinking, innovative design practices, and critical art-making to address social problems and make complex issues more accessible.”