Currently, 43 students at Bowdoin are able to spend their four years here free of charge.

These students are recipients of the Joshua L. Chamberlain Scholarship, created in 2000 to address the observed lack of diversity on campus and offered to a similar number of students each year. The award covers students' tuition, book expenses and travel costs, in addition to providing a $3,000 stipend for other educational opportunities.

The purpose of the funding is twofold: to provide the financial backing necessary to receive a liberal arts education and to make available opportunities that will enhance education in nontraditional, nonacademic settings.

The "common thread amongst the scholars is that we are all leaders from underrepresented backgrounds," said Sandra Martinez '13, a Chamberlain Scholar.

However, beyond the benefits to the students and the successful administrative initiative to increase diversity, some scholars—Martinez among them—have felt that the scholarship does not provide its scholars with a distinct role on campus.

"I was a little disappointed that upon arrival to campus, being a Chamberlain Scholar did not mean anything," Martinez said.

In light of this, Martinez and Mariya Ilyas '13, in collaboration with Branden Asemah '12 and David Paul '11, decided to spearhead a committee to raise awareness of the scholarship that funds their education.

"The main purpose," said Paul, "is to give the scholars a sense of purpose and unity. When we graduate we can look back and remember what it was like to be a scholar instead of just the benefits the scholarship provided us."

"I hope that our long-term efforts will establish the Chamberlain group on campus," Martinez said, "as well as allow each individual Chamberlain Scholar to graduate having felt that their scholarship gave them a reason to be at Bowdoin."

The Chamberlain Scholarship, only 10 years old, is relatively young compared to some of the other scholarships offered by the College. Chelsea Shaffer '14 sees the effort to transform the meaning of the scholarship as a reaction to those that are more established. "I think a lot of [the recent effort] has to do with the scholarships that already exist on campus," she said.

Beyond the successful administrative initiative to increase diversity on campus, the committee believes in the need to transform the Bowdoin community from within—to change the role of the Chamberlain scholar and the legacy of the scholarship.

As a starting point, the committee wants to bring together scholars through meetings and trips. Scholar Chelee Ross '12 noted that the scholars' similar backgrounds facilitate this by providing a "point of mutual bonding."

Beyond group unity, Schaffer outlined the committee's intents. "[The second level is] to make us all aware of the opportunities we have with deans, advisers and internships. Once these two goals are met, the committee wants to arrange projects that could benefit the Bowdoin community."

The scholars have joined efforts with supporting administration to help implement change. Director of Special Academic Affairs Rosemary Effiom serves as the scholars' official advisor.

Effiom is also chair of the scholarship's administrative committee, on which Gender and Women's Studies Program Administrator Anne Clifford, Director of Student Aid Steve Joyce, and Associate Dean of Admissions Elmer Moore sit. The committee reviews policy, makes recommendations to Dean of Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd, and reviews scholars' requests for enrichment opportunities funding.

Effiom, who devotes special effort to understanding how the scholarship affects students, noted that the scholars have been very proactive in working to define it.

"The concept of the scholar did not mean anything," she explained. "The students have been extremely involved in putting programming together."

"In about a year or so," she added, "the program will be more meaningful when the scholars can take ownership of the program."

Martinez is excited about the possibilities that come with creating a new committee.

"We can make it what we want it" to be, she said.

Daniel Aguirre '14 expressed his appreciation for the scholarship.

"I can focus entirely on my studies," he said, "free from worry about my ability to pay for these wonderful opportunities. [The scholarship] breaks down the heavy economic or social barriers the other recipients and I have experienced in our pre-college life. With it, I have an entirely new future."

Ross is enthused by the efforts of the committee in helping to define the Chamberlain scholar and make the most of four years at Bowdoin. "They're starting to get us together, to see each other, to introduce ourselves," she said, "to make connections and to understand how the scholarship has affected others."