Bulman awarded annual Monroe Prize

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February 3, 2012

1:55 AM

As a freshman, Molly Bulman ’12 joined her fellow Sharpe Scholars at a Neighborhood Council of Williamsburg meeting to discuss issues ranging from deer overpopulation to the three-person housing rule.

These early morning trips ignited her Bulman’s passion to work in the community and on campus.

Bulman, a public policy and finance major at the College of William and Mary, will receive the Monroe Prize for Civic Engagement at the Charter Day ceremony today.

The annual award, presented at the Charter Day ceremony, is given to a student who exemplifies strong leadership in the College community.

Bulman began her involvement with the community when she joined the Sharpe Community Scholars program.

In a course called “Citizenship in the Community,” Bulman and her fellow classmates attended meetings of the NCW to learn about the issues affecting the community.

“That kind of consumed me — that idea of people sitting around and talking about issues rather than one person delegating or deciding what would be law from then on,” Bulman said.

Bulman clung to the idea of active local involvement and began to delve into community service as a freshman by joining Campus Kitchens, a College organization designed to take excess food from local area restaurants and grocery stores and prepare or repackage it for low-income families in Williamsburg.

“She’s very driven with her ideas in that she’s always thinking about how we can grow, how we can get better,” Chelsea Estancona, advisor for Campus Kitchens, said. “Specifically, how we can connect with the people that we’re serving, [and] how we can get their input and grow. So she’s got both the vision and the drive to really make things happen.”

She began to work on the finances of Campus Kitchens, writing grants and fundraising.

In her junior year, she was chosen as student coordinator of the organization.

“What strikes me [about the organization] is that it’s a really smart idea. You’re taking an excess resource and allocating it to people who need it,” Bulman said. “It’s a really visible effort and addresses the issue at hand.”

Her involvement in the community and on campus does not end with Campus Kitchens. Bulman served as a teaching fellow for Director of the Roy R. Charles Center Joel Schwartz’s Sharpe Community Scholars class, “Democracy and Deliberation.”

She was also a resident in the Community Scholars House and, as a senior, serves as a program assistant.

Her passion for civic engagement also led her down an academic path toward an honors thesis in public policy.

Whether mentoring fellow students or advancing her own research for her honors thesis, Bulman continues to actively pursue the issue of community engagement.

“Molly exhibits a balanced passion for civic engagement,” Monica Griffin, coordinator of the Sharpe Community Scholars program, said in an email.  “She is not likely to shy away from a critical debate about public policy, but ever respectful and facilitative of multiple views and experiences.  As a role model to first-year students in her senior year, she brings a level of maturity to the notion of passion with an intellectual purpose and intellect that has not lost passion.”

Bulman continued to show her passion for democratic engagement and public service as the Student Assembly’s Vice President.

“She always does justice to who she is,” SA President Kaveh Sadeghian ’12 said. “She’s constantly asking questions of things around her and of herself. She pushes boundaries because she constantly questions.”

As vice president, Bulman wanted to help organize student volunteer groups and even arranged for a meeting of all the major tutoring groups on campus.

“It gave me a lot of insight into how to collaborate with group,” Bulman said. “I tried to have them communicate a little bit more. The role of vice president has been that style of piecing things together.”

Bulman’s contributions to the College have earned her the Monroe Award, and her passion to build the conversation about civic engagement has made her an active voice on campus.

“Molly is humble in her approach and in action,” Drew Stelljes, director of the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship, said in an email. “She wants community engagement and engaged scholarship to feel like a reasonable activity for students.”

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About Author

Senior staff writer Katherine Chiglinsky '14 is an English and economics major from Roanoke, Va. She was previously Editor-in-Chief, News Editor, Variety Editor and Associate Variety Editor.