“Civic engagement has taught me that to understand your place in a community, you have to really make an effort to get to know the community first by getting to know it’s people.”

CCAK Mentor, Civic Engagement Student Advisory Board, Waterville Public Library Volunteer

How have you been involved with civic engagement at Colby, and why is it important to you?

I’ve been a CCAK mentor for all four years at Colby, and have been CCAK’s Student Advisory Board for the past two. I’ve also worked at the Waterville Public Library assisting in their Children’s Room as well as helping out with other operational tasks like shelving. This past year, I’ve also had the opportunity to be on the Civic Engagement Student Advisory Council which has been a wonderful experience and a chance to engage with others at Colby doing really interesting work in this area. Civic engagement is important to me because it has connected me to the greater Waterville community. Getting to know and working with local community members was something I knew I wanted to pursue during my time at Colby. Through my experiences I’ve built meaningful relationships with people off the Hill and have become better informed about current happenings in town.

How has civic engagement contributed to your learning and leadership development?

Civic engagement has taught me that to understand your place in a community, you have to really make an effort to get to know the community first by getting to know it’s people. I’ve learned so much from interactions with members of the local community, through formal events like Community Conversations and through casual conversation with people I’ve worked with at various sites in the area. Civic engagement has reminded me that listening is a powerful tool in the process of learning, and that deeply engaging with those who hold different beliefs and perspectives based on their life experiences leads to a stronger understanding of a place. In terms of leadership, civic engagement has taught me that one of the most powerful hats a leader wears is that of a collaborator, working alongside others committed to the community. Being a good leader takes communication, dependability, open-mindedness and humility- I believe my civic engagement work has made me a stronger leader and at the same time reminded me that becoming a better leader is constantly a work in progress.

What is something you have learned about yourself as a result of your civic engagement experiences?

I’ve learned that consistency is my superpower. In my mentoring relationship, showing up every week and being present and engaged during my time with my mentee has been a really important cornerstone of our relationship. Reliably showing up to spend time with her each week is what has allowed us to build trust and deepen our connection over time, and have a lot of fun along the way! This lesson has carried over into my other commitments, both civic engagement experiences and other things I’m involved with. I think just showing up and committing to being fully present are skills I’ve learned to value in myself and really appreciate in others.

Looking ahead, how do you imagine civic engagement will inform your personal goals and professional future?

I think that civic engagement pushes me to continually be thinking about how I can contribute to the communities and places I find myself, and that’s something I definitely envision carrying over to both my personal and professional endeavors beyond Colby. This could be in big ways or smaller ones- in my opinion, dedication to getting involved and staying engaged is the most important thing. I definitely want to find ways to be actively involved in the communities I find myself in.

Contact Civic Engagement

Bill and Joan Alfond Commons
150 Main Street in downtown Waterville

[email protected]