Kelsey Freeman, a senior (Government & Legal Studies and Education) from Carbondale, CO, became involved with the McKeen Center her first year by tutoring at Portland Housing Authority. Since her senior year in high school, when she spent a month volunteering on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Kelsey has been interested in the relationship between Native tribes and the state and in culturally based indigenous education. Her sophomore year at Bowdoin, Kelsey lead the Alternative Spring Break Trip to Pleasant Point, Maine to work with Passamaquoddy Native students. She then received funding through the Mckeen Center’s Community Matters in Maine Summer Fellowship to intern at the Mitchell Institute in Portland, a higher-education research institute that provides scholarships to Maine students.
While studying abroad in Mérida, Mexico during her junior year, Kelsey taught English classes in an urban school and conducted a community-based research project on Mayan education in the Yucatán, which involved substantial time spent in a rural Mayan school and cultural community center.
This past summer, Kelsey received a Denning Summer Fellowship to work at the Native American Youth Association in Portland, Oregon. There she developed and taught culturally based summer classes for elementary and middle school students. She plans to build on this experience through a community-based honors project in the government department, which will examine indigenous social movements in the U.S. and Mexico. This year, Kelsey is the also McKeen Fellow for Alternative Breaks and is looking forward to helping make AB trips as meaningful as possible.
Outside the Mckeen Center, Kelsey shares her passion for the outdoors by teaching telemark skiing and whitewater kayaking through the Bowdoin Outing Club and also leads a wide array of outdoor trips throughout the year. She is also a member of Intersections: People, Planet, Power, a student-faculty group that plans discussions surrounding climate change and social justice.
After graduation, Kelsey hopes to continue with her focus on indigenous rights and education, likely working both domestically and with indigenous communities in Latin America. The McKeen Center has been an essential springboard towards launching these interests.