Louisa Izydorczak’20

In response to a question that asked if he would clone himself like a jellyfish polyp if he could, Bruce, a prisoner and College Guild Marine Biology student, said, “No. Because people like me shouldn’t exist. We’re a fungus, a cancer on society and anything that promotes our proliferation should be eradicated.” Having volunteered as a reader for College Guild for over a year, I have learned that feelings like these are common in America’s prisoner population. As a reader, I do my best to point out students’ strengths while encouraging them to think further. I told Bruce that I disagreed with him because in his work I could see his creativity, hard work and sense of humor. I was being truthful. College Guild has taught me that all people have something unique and important to say. Unfortunately, many prisoners lack opportunities to be creative and to connect with the outside world, and as a result they feel worthless and end up back in prison after they are released.

College Guild is a nonprofit organization based right in Brunswick that works to solve this problem by offering correspondence courses to prisoners across the United States. As a reader, I get a scanned, handwritten unit from a student every other week and write comments that will then be sent back to that student by mail. I have been exposed to many different courses as I have completed 21 units in the past year, spending about 30 hours total. College Guild has courses on everything from Greek Mythology to Logic to Dogs. However, they do not have a technology course, and as a Computer Science major, I’ve always wanted to change that.

Therefore, I was excited when College Guild reached out to readers at Bowdoin to say that they were looking for a summer intern to work on improving courses and to write a new course. Though many of my fellow Computer Science majors are interested in pursuing software careers, I’ve always felt that I want to do something different with my degree. The things I love doing most at Bowdoin have to do with education. I love being a mentor to a third grade girl who is struggling in school. I love waking up early to teach girls how to code. I love the time I spend in school with kids at Pleasant Point Reservation through ASB trips. I love working in a preschool. I’m taking Intro to Education now and am strongly considering getting a minor or coordinate major in Education. The opportunity to spend the summer doing Computer Science education would help me decide if I want to take more education classes and pursue a career as a Computer Science educator.