On Wednesday, September 11, the Harward Center began the first round of presentations on work that fellowship winners completed over the summer. Located in Commons 221-222, the program featured the stories of four students who were awarded a Harward Center Summer Fellowship to work in the local community.
The winners showcased in the first round of presentations were Mayele Alognon ’20, Jesus Carrera ’20, Eli Mihan ’21, and Maria Gray ’22. The program was attended by Bates students, faculty and staff, plus members of the greater Lewiston/Auburn Community.
The main criterion for a successful Harward Center Summer Fellowship is a project that both the student applicant and their nonprofit community partner is excited about, Darby Ray, the director of the Center, said.
Mayele Alognon, a senior from Louisville, Kentucky, worked with L.A. Arts, putting on art walks on Lisbon Street during the last Friday of every month. Alognon’s responsibilities included community outreach, social media management, and gallery attending.
As a studio art major, Alognon was intrigued about working more closely in the local art community.
“I knew I did want to stay on campus for the summer and it was a great opportunity to be involved with something that involved a really important aspect of my life,” she said. “Becoming aware of the strong community of artists and people who value art was, honestly, life-changing.”
Alognon also felt supported by the community of artists and art-lovers she met while on the job.
“As someone who has known their entire life that I want to make art and share it with people, it felt so nice to see that people really care about what is being made,” she said. “And beyond its aesthetic purposes, art has the ability to build community.”
Alognon added that although her fellowship was just for the summer, she will continue to work with L.A. Arts during the school year.
Senior Jesus Carrera spoke to the audience about his time working for New Beginnings, an organization providing homeless and runaway youth in Maine with shelter, food, clothing, and educational programming.
Carerra, from El Paso, Texas, found his work this summer rewarding.
Carerra was an Education and Development/Marketing intern, and while for the most part he did work around the office, he also got to go on trips with the homeless youth. The trips focused on geology, science, government, and art, and included excursions to the Portland Museum of Art and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.
At the end of Carerra’s presentation, Chris Bicknell, the Executive Director of the organization, told the audience about his experience working with the senior.
“The experience with [Carerra] was great, the partnership with Bates was amazing, and we really miss his personality in our offices,” he said.
Eli Mihan, a junior from Stowe, Vermont, worked on a watershed protection project studying Lake Auburn with the Lewiston water department.
Mihan became interested in the work after a problem with the water on campus last year that caused it to taste like cucumbers.
“Last year we experienced an alum breakout that made the water taste like cucumbers, which created a problem for students because we didn’t want to drink our water, which led to my research,” he said.
The report he generated at the end of his time with the department claimed the local government needed a higher dosage of the treatment solution than they were using.
“After six weeks I put up a report that was supposed to go to the Lewiston/Auburn community but turned into a crash course on why local government is really, really difficult,” he said. “My findings did not coincide with what the Lewiston/Auburn local government wanted.”
Overall, Mihan learned how government and science intersected in during his fellowship.
“I took away how important getting all the facts are,” he said. “It was a crossroads between science and the government. I think seeing how scientists can really influence what things get done is really important… We really need the scientific input to understand what’s going on in the world.”
Maria Gray ’22 worked with Outright Lewiston/Auburn, an organization that cultivates safe and affirming environments for youth who identify as members of the LGBTQ community.
Gray, from Lake Oswego, Oregon, was the only full time employee at the foundation. She worked on data consolidation and analysis, trauma informed care, and design projects.
One of her favorite projects was redesigning the website and logo.
“If a nonprofit has a really bad website then that’s how you know they’re spending money on things that really matter,” she said.
She focused on “unifying” the brand and created buttons and images to promote the nonprofit.
“It was cool to have the different aspects of my life intersect so drastically,” she said. “There are a lot of communities that need help right now, and I think organizing is a very tangible skill.”
Darby Ray, the Director of the Harward Center, hoped that the Bates students and greater Lewiston/Auburn community learned a lot about community engagement projects.
“I love forging connections between the interests and skills of Bates students, faculty, and staff and the opportunities and desires of off-campus community members,” she told The Student. “When we can make a match between those two constituencies, everyone benefits, which is a beautiful thing.”
Ray added, “Summer in Maine can be a magical time, and there are great local opportunities for students to gain real-world work experiences and to develop or deepen interests and skills they can build on throughout their lives.”
The remaining two presentations will take place on September 25 and October 23 and are open to Bates students, faculty and staff, and members of the Lewiston/Auburn community.