Rachel Bruns '21 political science

Rachel Bruns '21, political science

Rachel Bruns is a junior at Saint Joseph’s College who was recently announced as the recipient of two exciting awards; she is one of the Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow recipients, and has also been selected to participate in the 2020 National Education for Women (NEW) Leadership Institute. Rachel is majoring in Political Science, and also working to complete minors in Leadership and Community Engagement, as well as Social Justice. Rachel says that her experience so far at SJC has been amazing, saying I've learned so much in the past years that has not only educated me, but given me opportunities to be able to apply my learning and use it to give back as much as possible.”

Kimberly Post, Director of Community-Based Learning, was the faculty member who nominated Rachel for the Maine Campus Compact Award, and said she did so because Rachel has “demonstrated time and again that she has the talents and passion so important for those who are committed to making positive social change.” Kimberly says that Rachel, aside from her rigorous studies, and job helping her peers at the College’s Writing Center, is involved in several community-based activities here in Standish. Rachel is a part of the Community and Sustainability Engaged Scholarship (CASE) program. As a CASE Scholar, Rachel is committed to “increase [her] service and leadership skills while studying in one of the most rapidly growing fields of the 21st century in preparation for productive futures in the emerging green economy. CASE Scholars participate in special classes, workshops, seminars, and off-campus community-based projects.” Additionally, as the current leader of this cohort, Rachel is tasked with mentoring and leading “students from all disciplines who are interested in making the world a better place.” Through her scholarship, Rachel is working to bring sustainable solutions and practices to Saint Joseph’s College and the broader community, through such activities as creating and distributing educational materials, spreading awareness of sustainable practices, and, over the past year, developing a new community pollinator garden on campus. Rachel has also taken her commitment to social justice beyond Saint Joseph’s College, working as an intern with the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project, a legal aid organization that provides free legal information, assistance, and representation to low income Mainers facing civil legal issues. During her internship, Rachel worked on the Domestic Violence Panel, the Courthouse Assistance Project, and in the Workers Rights’ Clinic.

“Rachel has demonstrated time and again that she has the talents and passion so important for those who are committed to making positive social change.”
— Kimberly Post, Director of Community-Based Learning

This year, the Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellows is honoring 262 students from 39 states, Mexico, and Greece for their commitment to solving public problems. They announced these winners in early March, and Rachel was honored to have been chosen for this prestigious award. “The Newman Civic Fellowship is a one-year fellowship for community-committed college students from Campus Compact member institutions. The fellowship honors the late Frank Newman, one of Campus Compact’s founders, who was a tireless advocate for civic engagement in higher education.” With the announcement of the award, Campus Compact President Andrew Seligsohn said that the he and Campus Compact are “‘proud to recognize each of these extraordinary student leaders and thrilled to have the opportunity to engage with them...The stories of this year’s Newman Civic Fellows make clear that they are committed to finding solutions to pressing problems in their communities and beyond. That is what Campus Compact is about, and it’s what our country and our world desperately need.’” Rachel says that she is “honored to be recognized in this field”, and that she is “very thankful to SJC for supporting [her] and providing [her] with the tools to grow.”

In addition to receiving this Fellowship, Rachel has also been selected to participate in the 2020 National Education for Women (NEW) Leadership Institute, a program run by the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. This program was developed to “address the under-representation of women in leadership roles and in politics.” One way that NEW Leadership aims to “educate and empower young people” is through their Summer Institute, which this year runs from May 28- June 2. Those selected for this Institute spend time together learning and acquiring the “skills necessary to become the next generation of effective civic and political leaders.” Rachel Bruns was one of the young woman who was selected to participate in the 2020 Institute, and this summer she and the other young women will “gain a greater awareness of their own abilities to lead, their expertise and qualifications to take on a leadership role, as well as the many opportunities for them in civic life and public office.” Rachel says that she is “proud to be from a state that recognizes the need for more women in leadership positions”, and that she is “very excited to be able to grow alongside other women that aspire to give back to their communities as much as possible, as well as learn how we can make a difference in roles such as our government.”

On all of her recent success, Rachel says this: “I am really thankful to have received these awards. I am honored to come from a community where there is a plethora of hard workers that all deserve to be recognized. These awards reflect years of having professors and staff eagerly promote these programs, and help me excel as much as possible. Their mentorship and dedication is what makes our community so great, and what fostered an environment for me to grow in. I am excited to learn as much as I can and strengthen my skills, which I can bring to my senior year at SJC, and beyond graduation.”

Please join the Saint Joseph’s College community in celebrating all that Rachel has accomplished, and wishing her well in her upcoming adventures!

Additional Sources:
Campus Compact, compact.org/announcing-2019-newman-civic-fellows/
Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, University of Maine, mcspolicycenter.umaine.edu/for-students/maine-new-leadership/