During her 13 years as a driver for a Bowdoin SafeRide Shuttle, Angela Keating has connected countless students to their destinations around the mile-radius of campus and witnessed notable connections made between her passengers.
One of Keating’s most memorable moments in the shuttle was witnessing the meeting of two students who began dating and eventually got married. Keating was invited to the wedding and today keeps up with them through social media.
Keating noted that her favorite part of being a shuttle driver is these fateful connections. She asks students a variety of questions to kickstart conversation, including asking them for their names, where they’re from, how their day is going and how they like Bowdoin.
“There’s a lot of stories. You know, good ones and bad ones and naughty ones,” Keating said.
Bowdoin Shuttle drivers serve a vital role in the Bowdoin community, connecting the campus to Brunswick, especially during the cold Maine winters that make walking and biking difficult. From the polar bear statue at Smith Union, Keating shuttles students to popular locations around the campus and town.
“A lot of people go to town to get dinner, or to Hannaford to get groceries, to friends’ houses for parties or to the library,” she said.
Keating was born in Michigan, raised in Ohio and attended college in Michigan. After graduating, Keating worked for hotel companies in Dallas before relocating to Maine at the request of her college roommate.
“My college roommate had an inn on Georgetown Island, and … she asked me if I would come and do the weddings and things and help run the inn. So I moved to Maine, and then she fixed me up on a blind date with my husband,” Keating said.
Keating’s husband is an Irish immigrant who works as a builder. After working at her roommate’s inn, Keating taught in a special needs classroom and then began working as a shuttle driver, enjoying the benefits provided by her new schedule.
“I wanted something different because my husband and I have four daughters, and our oldest is very handicapped. So this gave me an opportunity to be home with her in the daytime, and then my husband can be home with her at night.… It worked really well for my family,” Keating said.
Recently, a woman who graduated from Bowdoin several years ago and befriended Keating during her time at the College called Keating to inform her that she was returning to Bowdoin to get married in the chapel. She shared a St. Patrick’s day dinner with Keating and asked for her help to find a nearby wedding photographer.
Relationships with students mean a lot to Keating. She has enjoyed watching students grow over their years at Bowdoin.
“[When seniors] get in the shuttle … I can say, ‘I remember when you lived in West or Osher and then the social house and then Harpswell or Park Row,’” Keating said. “I know them from where they lived and when they started taking the shuttle. And just to see them grow is just so amazing. Bowdoin has some really wonderful, unique people.”
While Keating thinks the shuttle system works very well, she hopes a few changes can be made.
“I wish we had more drivers because we’re so busy. I wish the students would be ready, that they’d be waiting for me instead of me waiting for them,” Keating said.
Keating hopes that students know that the security programs at Bowdoin, which include the SafeRide Shuttle, are here to help and not harm them.
“The shuttle is under the umbrella of security, and the security officers and the shuttle drivers have every student’s best interests at heart. You know, we’re not here to get anybody in trouble. We’re just here to help them and keep them safe,” Keating said.
The weekends especially serve as opportunities for SafeRide to tend to the needs of students—especially with the uptick in ride requests.
“I think the busiest time that I’ve worked is Thursday night at 9:30 p.m.–1 a.m. Everyone goes to Bolos, and it can be difficult for the dispatchers and drivers,” shuttle dispatcher Ahmad Abdulwadood ’24 said.
Abdulwadood has enjoyed working with Keating during his shifts.
“Shoutout Angela. She’s great. She’s really sweet and good at her job,” Abdulwadood said.
Overall, Keating has thoroughly enjoyed her time as a shuttle driver. She is grateful for the people she’s met through the job.
“Bowdoin’s a great place, and it’s been a real pleasure working here and getting to know so many students over the past 13 years. I’m still in touch with a lot [of students], which is very nice,” Keating said.