Alumni Magazine Summer 2014 - page 21-22

Summer 2014
Summer 2014
“In our house,
we believe in
the strength of
community. We
don’t work in
Engaging Communities
Meredith (Dalton) Rutherford ’96, ’97
fter graduating with a biology degree and beginning her MBA, Meredith
Rutherford accepted an internship at nearby St. Lawrence Nurseries, a
family-owned business with a national reputation for propagating varieties of
cold-hardy fruit and nut trees for growers in northern climates.
It was here, she says, that she first learned the importance of community,
trust and environmental responsibility. It was a lesson she never forgot.
“The owners had built strong relationships with neighbors and partners
to achieve common goals,” she says. “They were known for their hard
work, solid business ethics, environmental knowledge and community
participation. Each of these attributes contributed to their success in
business and in the community.”
After completing her MBA, Rutherford spent more than two years with
the Peace Corps in Ghana. There she served as a forestry volunteer on a
collaborative reforestation project that involved local farmers. The experience
confirmed what she already knew: “I wanted to apply my analytic skills and
talents to strengthen communities,” she says.
Since 2007, she has worked at the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center, a
nonprofit, community health center in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y., where
she is the director of Communications & Community Engagement. The Health
Center provides high-quality healthcare, wellness promotion and neighborhood
programs to some 30,000 patients through 10 locations in Monroe and Ontario
“We provide a healthcare safety net for a whole population of people who
otherwise would be underserved. Our work is strengthened by community
partnerships,” she says.
The Health Center’s Bridges to Wellness/Puentes a la Salud, a resident-
driven initiative that seeks to improve the personal and community health
of some 1,500 residents, is one of these partnerships. “In this neighborhood,
public safety, isolation and neighborhood drug activity affect the health of the
community as a whole. If we can
correct things afflicting community
health, then that will positively
affect personal health issues.”
Rutherford, who lives with
her husband and two children,
previously served on the board of a
social settlement house and is also
a hospice volunteer.
“In our house, we believe in
the strength of community. We
don’t work in isolation.”
Photo by Jennifer Forrester
A Consequential Life
Success is measured in a multitude of ways. For these two alumni, it is measured in the number of lives they touch.
“I think of my
story less as a
single narrative,
and more as
a series of
The Road Less Travelled
Kimberly Aldous ’95
f you look at Kimberly Aldous’ resume, the first 10 years of her professional life
are very impressive in a conventional sort of way.
After graduating from Clarkson in 1995 and getting a master’s degree at Bowling
State University, Aldous embarked on a series of professional positions of increasing
responsibility in the nonprofit sector. She even worked
her way back to Clarkson, serving as deputy director of
Corporate & Foundation Relations for more than two
years, before relocating to Vermont in 2005 to care for
her ailing mother.
In Vermont, she continued taking on leadership roles
at the University of Vermont and other nonprofits.
But something was missing.
“Service work has always been important to me,” she
says. “But I ended up in Development, and increasingly
I was spending my time with lawyers and accountants
instead of being in touch with the actual mission work
of the organizations.”
In 2009, Aldous embarked on a five-month trip to
China and Southeast Asia. The trip was as much about
seeing the world as it was a journey of self-discovery. “I
hadn’t spent more than two weeks at one time out of the
U.S. But I wanted to test myself: Could I leave everything
behind and build a life in Asia?”
Today, she lives in northern Thailand, in the rural town of Chiang Kham in
the Phayao province. Her days are spent teaching science, math and English to
more than 400 school children in grades first through sixth.
“Memorization is the standard method of teaching here, but I manage to
have fun with the students, helping them learn to think and solve problems,” she
says. “We made bottle rockets, which they designed, built and launched. We made
magnets with nails and batteries. You work with the materials that you can find.
There aren’t many resources.”
This fall, Aldous is taking the next step on her journey, moving to Beijing
to teach English to first-year students at the North China Institute of Science &
Technology. “The Clarkson of China,” she jokes.
“I’m ready for my next chapter,” she says. “Adapt to a new culture, learn
Mandarin, continue to reach others through teaching. Maybe I’ll get a Ph.D. or
continue studying Traditional Medicine. Who knows?”
“I miss people back home,” she concedes. “You can’t get a hug over Skype. But
every day I get hugs, and drawings and special moments with my students. My
perspective changes with every culture I encounter, my listening skills improve and
my ideas about myself evolve.”
Aldous is living proof that what Mahatma Gandhi said is true: The best way to
find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
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