Two Bates College students honored for service-learning

A junior and a senior at Bates College were among 12 students at Maine institutions of higher education honored by the Maine Campus Compact for outstanding contributions in community service and service-learning.

Meghan Thornton, a junior interdisciplinary-studies major from Shaker Heights, Ohio, was one of six recipients of the Campus Compact’s Student Heart & Soul Award.

Aron Bell, a senior biology major from Summit, N.J., was one of six to receive honorable mention in the awards ceremony held on April 13 in the Hall of Flags at the Maine State House, Augusta.

The Student Heart & Soul Award is presented annually to undergraduates who have shown a depth and breadth of involvement in community service, service-learning and/or activism. These students have achieved significant results through involvement and have demonstrated leadership and innovation on campus and in the community.

Thornton volunteers for youth programs at the Hillview Housing Development in Lewiston. She coordinated an afterschool program, co-led a Girl Scout troop and ran a summer program for children at Hillview. She has provided tutoring, arts and crafts, field trips and other beneficial activities.  In particular, Thornton says, “I really attempted to work with the children to dispel myths and tensions that had arisen due to the new population of Somali families. I wanted them to understand that they had much to learn from one another.”

She adds, “In many ways, I think I got just as much from the children as I gave them. They taught me to take life a little less seriously and helped me realize that you need to take a moment and enjoy the simple things in life.”

Bell’s service to local youth includes teaching a weekly lesson on virology to 10th-graders as a guest tutor. He brought the students to Bates where he supervised their work on a bacteriophage lab protocol that he devised.

Bell also worked with 8th-graders to rebuild an old skateboard park in Auburn, meeting weekly with the students to discuss progress and helping them interview town officials.

The other Heart & Soul Award winners are: Mary Cameron, University of Southern Maine; Matt Crellin, Saint Joseph’s College; Casey Harris, Bangor Campus of the University of Maine at Augusta; Laurie Tranten, University of Maine at Farmington; and Elliott Wright, Bowdoin College.

The other Honorable Mentions were Susan Beane, Lewiston-Auburn College; Nicole Merryman, York County Community College; Seabren Reeves III, University of Maine at Farmington; Stephen Theriault, York County Community College; and Erica Tobey, University of Southern Maine.

Each year the Maine Campus Compact presents both the Heart & Soul Award and the Donald Harward Faculty Award, named for a former Bates College president, for service-learning excellence. The Compact is a statewide coalition of college and university presidents established to advance campus engagement in the community.

The national Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 850 college and university presidents committed to the civic purposes of higher education. Campus Compact promotes community service that develops students’ citizenship skills and values, encourages partnerships between campus and community, and assists faculty in integrating public and community engagement into their teaching and research.

For more information, contact Melissa Burlingame of Maine Campus Compact at 207-786-8392.

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