Working Hard or Harward-ly Working? An Interview with Ashleen O’Brien, Student Project Coordinator at the Harward Center for Community Partnerships.

Ashleen O’Brien, a Sophomore at Bates College, has been working as a Student Project Coordinator at the Harward Center for Community Partnerships since the beginning of second semester this year. Ashleen learned about the position from the SEO list serve and has been working at the Harward center four hours a week since she has been hired. “I decided I wasn’t cut out to be a nude model anymore (I got that job through a friend), and applied for this one soon after I received an email about the opening,” states Ashleen.

Ashleen applied for the Student Project Coordinator job because she thought it would be valuable to become involved in facilitating interactions between Bates and the larger Lewiston-Auburn community. “I had worked with the Harward center for a community placement for my Developmental Psychology class first semester and had found the resources there to be abundantly helpful”.

Ashleen’s primary task is greeting and directing people who come to the Harward center for various meetings or events. However, Ashleen also carries out a number of odd jobs that Harward Center staff need help with. “These can vary a lot. Last week on Tuesday I capitalized on my large endowment of brute strength to help the director move her office upstairs, while on Thursday I researched the pathways of efferent and afferent neurons through the LNS and primary visual cortex. In theory people are also supposed to have me make copies, but no one has. I sort mail and arrange newspapers like a boss.” Ashleen also adds that she is currently supposed to be making a poster to be used for tabling to inform students about opportunities at the center, but has yet to be told as to what is supposed to be on said poster.

When asked if anything particularly funny or interesting happens during her work hours, Ashleen responds that she sometimes spins in her chair “and TWICE I have stubbed my toe on the shredder”. Apparently the life of a desk worker can be a particularly dangerous one. Perks of the job include “a pretty good selection of teas, and an AmeriCorps volunteer who works at the other front desk who I get to hang out with and tell about my various life problems. Also, since the demise of Pgrew, the dance department has been sharing office space with us and the head of the dance department has a dog that I get to play with.”

Working in the Harward center has been useful to Ashleen because “it is nice to gain insight into the day-to-day operations of service learning projects.” Ashleen believes the most personally rewarding part in her job is getting to talk to people in charge of or working with different community projects or engagement projects on campus. “It gives me a greater knowledge of what’s occurring locally.” Ashleen has also learned a bit about herself by taking on this job, specifically that “it is really hard for me to sit for two hours in one place and not listen to music.”

Working at the Harward Center has been useful for Ashleen due to the fact that she is “interested in working with community development and environmental nonprofits, both of which I have learned more about through my interactions at the Harward center.” Since the Harward center is very involved with the education and social science departments,many of which require courses with service learning components, the center is an important link between Bates and the surrounding city. “This program is really very integral in fostering relationships between both students, faculty and the community of Lewiston as a whole and I’m happy to be a part of that.”