By Rowan Gallaher
Finn Loendorf, a senior physics major from Denver, North Carolina, loves science and serving in the community by working with youth. Thanks to the MacDonald Community Fellowship, Loendorf brought these interests together during summer 2018.
Loendorf, a member of Carolina’s inaugural class of MacDonald Community Service Scholars, participated in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program and the First-Year Service Corps through the Carolina Center for Public Service. These experiences led Loendorf to launch an independent service project designed to increase the exposure and interest in science topics among underserved youth in the Chapel Hill area.
Alumnus Scott MacDonald ’72 M.R.P. created the Scott D. MacDonald Community Service Scholarships and the MacDonald Community Fellowship in 2015. The Fellowship provides specialized training and funding for students to identify and implement a public service project with a community partner.
“I believe everyone who has received education and is successful, has an obligation to help others who follow,” said MacDonald. “I also believe people who are in need would benefit from the efforts of socially motivated university students…”
Loendorf agrees. “Helping others is just the right thing to do. It’s everyone’s responsibility to do what they can to make the world a better place.”
As a first-year student, Loendorf tutored with Boomerang Youth Inc., and noticed how tutoring supported students in both their schoolwork and personal lives. During summer 2018, Loendorf continued this work with seven middle-school students by implementing a week-long program, Full STEAM Ahead, that involved coding activities, science experiments and literary arts.
“The students explored science through different exciting activities, such as an aluminum foil boat-making competition, coding LEDs with an Arduino microcontroller, and making rock candy. The students also completed a project where they built a volcano and used scientific properties learned throughout the week to make them erupt,” Loendorf said.
Tami Pfeifer, Boomerang’s executive director, saw Loendorf’s ability to make science engaging for the students and create enthusiasm for the upcoming school year.
“Finn is an outstanding Boomerang volunteer who provides academic support to our students during the school year,” Pfeifer said. “Through Finn’s dedication, commitment and access to resources from the [MacDonald] fellowship, we were able to carry that academic connection into the summer.”
The students ended the week-long camp with a renewed sense of excitement for learning and an even stronger support system. On the surface level, constructing paper-mâché volcanoes is a fun activity, but Loendorf also highlights the value of teamwork and self-expression that the camp facilitated.
“No gesture is too small. The ripple effect of kindness and caring for others can spread in unpredictable and wonderful ways,” Loendorf said.