Students, faculty and staff honored for service-learning

Six members of the Bates College community — four students, a psychology professor and a staffer for the chaplain’s office — were among a select group of individuals from campuses across the state to receive awards from the Maine Campus Compact in recognition of outstanding contributions in community service and service-learning.

Auburn resident Kathryn Graff Low, professor and chair of the Bates psychology department, was named a finalist for the Donald Harward Faculty Award for Service-Learning Excellence. The award recognizes Low’s accomplishments in service-learning, an instructional method in which students learn through involvement in service that meets a community need.

“As the lone clinician in a small, liberal arts college, I am approached frequently by both students and community agencies with proposals related to clinical services,” Low says. All of these service-learning projects involve clinical issues or health intervention, she says, but each also requires students to work with a team of community partners on critical community problems. “Optimally, students develop a sense of civic responsibility and social justice during the course by simply doing.”

The award was named for Donald W. Harward, who retired as the sixth president of Bates College in 2002. A founding president of Maine Campus Compact and a member of the Board of Directors of Campus Compact at the national level, Harward championed service-learning and other programs designed to make Bates a more active and valuable partner in the community life of Lewiston and Auburn.

Martha Deschaines ’75, manager of the Office of the Chaplain, received the Campus Civic Stewardship Award in recognition of her significant commitment to promoting and supporting civic engagement on and off campus. Deschaines, of Auburn, works with four Student Volunteer Fellows to coordinate the volunteer office. “It is inspiring for me to see how their strengths balance each other and to facilitate their leadership of the programs,” Deschaines said. “It is encouraging to know there are so many students who want to make a positive difference in the community.”

Sociology major Adrienne Eaton ’05 of Boylston, Mass., and interdisciplinary studies major Matthew Heffernan ’05 of Cranston, R.I., received the Philanthropy Innovation Learning Leadership Action Responsibility Service (PILLARS) Student Award. The award recognizes students who are pillars of their campuses and in their communities through their support of civic effort of others and through their leadership in finding solutions to community challenges.

Eaton worked for the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project in Lewiston. Grateful for the learning she gained by working with survivors of domestic violence, Eaton cited the strength and courage of those she encountered. “Often against many odds, these people have bounced back, have made new lives for themselves and have empowered me to continue this work,” she said.

Heffernan began his work as an archivist at the Lewiston Public Library in an effort to marry his passion for public service to his major in working-class studies. “The most important place my major has taken me is deeper into my own community in Lewiston,” Heffernan says, citing lessons learned about the recent influx of Somali immigrants from his study of earlier waves of immigration to the city.

Seniors Erin Bertrand of Torrington, Conn., Christopher Richards of Lee, N.H., and Jason Rafferty of Greenland, N.H., received Unsung Heroes Student Awards, given to students from each member campus who have shown a commitment to service not through leadership roles but through volunteering their time and services to address a cause.

A chemistry and environmental studies major, Bertrand joined chemistry major Richards to enhance voter registration and turnout among Bates students. Richards says the pair helped to register nearly 400 Bates students to vote, many for the first time. “I am concerned that the lack of participation, whether because of apathy or erosion of rights, is fatal to the goals and aspirations of democracy,” Bertrand said.

A neuroscience major, Rafferty is the Bates Emergency Medical Services crew chief and a member of the campus Hunger and Homelessness Committee. “I believe that by connecting with people, particularly those most in need…one gains the ability to empower others and make positive change,” Rafferty says.

Maine Campus Compact is a statewide coalition of college and university presidents established to encourage and enhance campus engagement in the community. The student Heart and Soul Award and the Donald Harward Faculty Award are presented annually.

The national Campus Compact is a national coalition of nearly 850 college and university presidents committed to the civic purposes of higher education. To support this civic mission, Campus Compact promotes community service that develops students’ citizenship skills and values, encourages partnerships between campuses and communities and assists faculty who seek to integrate public and community engagement into their teaching and research.