Life at Colby - Life at Colby - Colby College, Waterville, ME

“My civic engagement experience at Colby will remind me to be a civically minded person in the future. It is important to be a part of the local community and have a mindset that looks outwards.”

Ohanian Szostak Fellow for Civic Leadership 19/20, Colby Outing Club, Civic Engagement Student Advisory Board

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

In my sophomore year, I started a civic engagement project with Jackie Florman with the aim to initiate a partnership between the Colby Outing Club and Messalonskee High School’s Outing Club. As Ohanian Szostak Fellows, we started meeting with the faculty sponsor and students of the Messalonskee Outing Club (MOC) and finding Colby students enthusiastic about engaging with local students in the outdoors. Our first planned trip was unfortunately cancelled due to the start of the covid-19 pandemic, but through the year we kept in touch by creating virtual resources for getting outside. Now, as we look ahead to the 2021-22 school year and anticipate a return to in-person civic engagement, I am starting an Outdoor Outreach Club dedicated to our original mission of helping local students get outside. Starting Fall 2021, we will be partnering with the Alfond Youth Center to help host outdoor activities and workshops during their after school program. By working with the various outdoor clubs on campus – the Colby Outing Club, the Fly Fishing Club, the Colby Mountaineering Club, and others – we will be able to support many opportunities to increase accessibility to the outdoors for local students while fostering mentor-mentee relationships. This civic engagement work is important to me because helping young students get outside today is more important than ever after the indoor virtual world of the pandemic. Working as a camp counselor for three years has also shown me the power of mentor-mentee relationships in the outdoors and the importance of exploring and learning from nature. I’m excited to bring my enthusiasm for outdoor education and outreach to empower Colby students to share their love for the outdoors with the community.

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

I have learned how to be persistent when working for something important. My civic engagement project has been in the works for over a year, facing many setbacks such as those due to covid. I’ve had to learn that some things that fail are not really failures, but important stepping blocks to the next idea and plan of action. As the new Outdoor Outreach Club comes to fruition, I am glad that I did not give up on my civic engagement project. I’ve learned that things take time and that processes of trial and error are important for a civic engagement project and ensure that the best possible routes are being taken in the end. I have learned that I can adapt to new situations and look for creative solutions to new problems.

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

My civic engagement experience at Colby will remind me to be a civically minded person in the future. It is important to be a part of the local community and have a mindset that looks outwards. This can be difficult when moving to a new place, but having learned how to engage with a new community when I moved to Waterville has prepared me to be civically minded when I join new communities in the future. I do not know exactly where my professional future will take me, but in any field knowing how to communicate with community partners will be a useful skill to help me be civically engaged from where I work.

Contact Civic Engagement

Bill and Joan Alfond Commons
150 Main Street in downtown Waterville

[email protected]