Graduate Profile: Colleen O’Toole
Colleen O’Toole ’08 chose to attend Alma College not once, but twice.
Inspired by a philanthropy class, she took a year off between her sophomore and junior years of college to join the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), which aims to strengthen communities through team-based service.
“I struggled during my freshman year to find my passion, but I knew one thing: I felt sure that I had been called to service,” she says. “Upon my return from NCCC, I was dedicated to my studies, fell in love with sociology, and landed a spot on the Dean’s List.”
O’Toole says she returned to Alma because she knew it was a place where her professors truly cared about her success. She also knew she would continue to have the opportunity to do meaningful work. While living in the Service House on campus, she participated in Alpha Phi Omega, volunteered and interned at Habitat for Humanity.
“My Alma experience helped define my career path,’” she says. “Whether it was in the classroom, in an old Jewish cemetery in Poland, on a geology field trip around Alma, or on a weeknight at the library, I was able to study topics at Alma that interested me but also were applicable to my life outside of school.”
After O’Toole graduated from Alma, she continued to do service work across the country before accepting a position as a volunteer coordinator at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Portland, where she supports the store’s operations.
“Working with volunteers is more of a vocation than a job,” she says. “I enjoy working with people from diverse backgrounds, mentoring young people, and helping folks get involved in their community.”