Preparing Future Civic Leaders

To further integrate civic engagement into the curriculum and community, Colby recently received two major campaign commitments, one to establish the O’Hanian-Szostak Fellows for Civic Leadership in November 2019 and the other to endow the College’s director of civic engagement and community partnerships position in January 2020.

Both gifts allow Colby to continue to elevate its leading civic engagement work that’s rooted in the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, home of the Chace Community Forum, in downtown Waterville and are part of the College’s effort to create meaningful connections between Mayflower Hill and the community. The increase in civic engagement activities will positively and collectively impact the Colby and central Maine communities.

Lawry Family Director of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships

The Lawry Family Director of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships was made possible through the generosity of Colby Trustee Seth Lawry and Cynthia Lawry.

“This wonderful gift is helping to continue the exciting momentum taking place at the College in terms of enhancing and building community partnerships, and I’m truly honored and grateful to be the first endowed director of this important office.” said Elizabeth Jabar, the inaugural Lawry Family Director of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships.

Colby’s model of making civic engagement a central part of the liberal arts education as well as the student experience, and creating specific civic engagement goals and requirements for students living in the heart of a community, is unique. “It’s a very different approach that other institutions are now starting to look at as they consider their own programs,” commented Jabar.

O’Hanian-Szostak Fellows for Civic Leadership

As Colby’s first fund specifically for select student leaders with a significant commitment to civic responsibility, the O’Hanian-Szostak Fellows for Civic Leadership was made possible through the generosity of Trustee Emerita Anne O’Hanian Szostak ’72 and Michael J. Szostak ’72.

“The opportunities afforded to O’Hanian-Szostak Fellows will enhance these students’ academic experiences and allow them to make meaningful contributions to our community, ultimately preparing them to become civic leaders throughout their lives,” said President David A. Greene. “We are deeply grateful to Anne and Mike for their vision and generosity. They have experienced firsthand how enriching community engagement can be, and we are thrilled that Colby will now be able to offer funding to students who demonstrate a profound commitment to civic leadership.”

The O’Hanian-Szostak Fellows for Civic Leadership offers funding for up to 10 Colby students each semester to pursue self-identified projects. After going through a rigorous application process, accepted students receive stipends to develop independent projects that support important community needs.

Working in partnership with local organizations and a faculty advisor, fellows will begin to develop real-world solutions that address specific community challenges that are of interest to the student, such as youth development, food insecurity, public health, and environmentalism. Funding is also available for students to pursue professional development opportunities related to civic leadership.

In February, the inaugural fellows—Emily Carter ’20, Lorne Carter ’21, Caroline Epstein ’21, Annie Muller ’22, Jackie Florman ’22, Josh Kim ’22, Luis Gonzalez Kompalic ’20, Charis Li ’23, and Rachel Powers ’21—began work on projects ranging from documenting the stories of Waterville residents to bringing bereavement support to local schools. Read more about the difference their projects are making and what inspires them to stay engaged with their community.