Lives of Purpose

Lives of Purpose (LoP), a joint effort of the Colby Volunteer Center and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, is dedicated to engaging a select group of first-year students in local service and community building around active reflection on ethical and/or religious commitments.

If you’re an incoming student who wants to be involved in the community, develop deep friendships with your classmates, and ask big questions about who we are and what we ought to do, please join us.

Apply online by August 31 for the Fall 2018 cohort, or contact Kurt Nelson, dean of religious and spiritual life, at kdnelson@colby.edu or 207-859-4272 with more questions.


Have a question about LoP?

For more information, contact Kurt Nelson, dean of religious and spiritual life, or Thu Le ’19, program chair.

Lives of Purpose

Who should join LoP?

Any incoming (first-year or transfer) student interested in building community, serving locally, and exploring values at commitments—members of the world’s religious traditions, atheists, agnostics, seekers, or anywhere in between.

What is the commitment?

Students will engage weekly (usually one afternoon or evening) in a local nonprofit focused on food and hunger programs in Waterville and Central Maine. Plan on about three hours per week. Small groups will meet for dinner twice a month. The full group will gather monthly for discussion or gatherings with campus or local leaders.

Why should I join?

Many students come to Colby with a passion for community service and social justice work. Many more come with deep questions about who they are and how to put their talents to work in the world. Lives of Purpose offers a community of first-year students the opportunity to engage substantively with the community while building deep and lasting relationships with peers. The group seeks to form a safe-enough space to delve consistently into big questions of meaning, purpose, and community.

In what ways does LoP engage ‘religious’ questions?

We anticipate that students in the program will encompass a wide variety of religious traditions as well as students who are not religious or not religious in a conventional way. The key aspect of the program is engaging themes of integrity, values, commitment, and social justice. For some students, this will have a religious component. For others it will not. The program is meant to be an open place to discuss, support, and even challenge one another. Our hope is that each person will feel comfortable enriching our discussions with their own personal perspectives.

What should I do next?

Apply online by August 31 for the Fall 2018 cohort, or contact Kurt Nelson, dean of religious and spiritual life, at kdnelson@colby.edu or 207-859-4272 with more questions.


Meet the People of LOP

Thu Le

Thu Le ’19 – nnle@colby.edu

I am a senior majoring in both Biochemistry and Science, Technology and Society. I’m from Vietnam, but I spent my last two years of high school in Singapore. After joining Lives of Purpose in my first year, I have been deeply touched by the connections I made with other members and learned a lot from the conversations and volunteer work we shared together. Therefore, I have stayed with the group ever since. Aside from LoP, I’m also a member of Colby’s Admission Ambassadors, International Club and Chorale. In my free time, I love reading books and taking part in fun activities with my friends, especially arts and crafts. After Colby, I hope to enroll in a graduate program in Environmental Health Sciences. I’m eager to lead Lives of Purpose in the coming year and welcome new group members from the class of 2022.

Elizabeth Airan

Elizabeth Airan

Coming into my second semester as a freshman at Colby, I found myself eager to be a part of a special community. LOP was the perfect group; It created a way for me to combine two important aspects of my life: service and school. Regardless of the context, I have always been passionate about giving a helping hand during a time of need. I am honored to be assisting the Waterville community while simultaneously connecting with others at Colby.


Kevin Argueta

Kevin Argueta

I am a first-gen student from Houston, Texas. I love pupusas, bachata, and warm weather. LOP is great way to get off campus and make meaningful connections.


Hannah Johnson

Hannah Johnson

Hey everyone, I’m Hannah Johnson, a sophomore from Lancaster, PA! I’m currently a psychology major with a neuroscience concentration on the premed track. Even though I love my state, Maine will always have a special place in my heart. You can catch me skiing at Sugarloaf, studying in an Olin cubby, or eating spoonfuls of Foss peanut butter (highly recommend). I can’t wait to meet you all and get you excited about Lives of Purpose!


Avery Munns

Avery Munns

My name is Avery Munns and I am from Topeka, Kansas. In addition to Lives of Purpose, I am in Multi-Faith Council, CCAK, Ballroom Dance Club, a tutor in the Farnham Writers’ Center and a CA of East! Through important engagement with the homeless shelter, Lives of Purpose has helped me bond with a community of other Colby students who also value meaning in their lives.


Sam Orenstein

Sam Orenstein

My name is Sam Orenstein and I am from Marblehead, Massachusetts, but Maine has always been my second home. I am a double major in Global Studies and Spanish and can’t wait to study abroad and hopefully become fluent in Spanish. I love LOP because it allows me to connect with kids on a weekly basis and provide important value to the greater Colby community.


Sam McGrath Holmquist

Sam McGrath Holmquist

Sam is a curious sophomore, with an open heart. As a lifelong lover of reading and writing, Sam is an English Major with a focus in creative writing. He will also probably minor in Education and Italian; stay tuned. Ever since he was young, Sam has loved working with kids. On campus, you can find him playing trumpet in the orchestra, writing fantasy (and sometimes poetry), and escaping to the Arboretum to walk, run, or read. With an interest in almost everything, he is extremely excited to spend another year with the CLoP club.

Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life

Kurt Nelson
Kurt Nelson

Kurt Nelson has been Colby’s dean of religious and spiritual life since the fall of 2012. Kurt is the founder and advisor of Lives of Purpose. He lives in Waterville with his wife Joanna, daughter Lillian, and dog Grover. He comes to Colby after five years at Dartmouth College advising multi-faith programs and with degrees from Yale Divinity School and St. Olaf College. He’s always up for coffee and conversation—email or stop by his office on the lower level of Lorimer Chapel.