Alumni Profile: M. Jane Powers '86

Majors: Psychology,Human Development
M. Jane Powers

There are students who enjoy their four years on the Hill by maintaining a respectable academic record and spending every weekend with friends, and then there are students like M. Jane Powers '86 who achieved all that in addition to becoming involved in a wide range of extracurricular activities on campus.
Hailing from Cape Cod, Mass., Powers is just finishing her fourth year as a member of the Board of Trustees. 

Powers, a music radio show disc jockey in her free time, ensured that her voice was heard long before she was elected to the Board.

While in college, Powers was on hall staff, serving as a head resident for two years, became the president of the Women's Group and was active in a number of other activities on Campus.
"I also sang in the chorale and was involved with acting. This was pre-Bridge, so I did a lot of formal and informal networking with students and staff around GLBT [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender] issues as well." Since Powers fought for causes she believed in and was involved in the exciting post-fraternity transition at the College, she could not isolate just one favorite memory. "More than just a memory, I would say the experience of the friendships I made [is the best], which are still incredibly rich and close to me twenty-three years after graduating," Powers recalled.

A good amount of what she accomplished and learned during her college years has influenced Powers' successful career as the clinical director for a therapeutic day school for socially, mentally or physically disabled children and adolescents.

Her strategic double major in Psychology and Human Development has certainly allowed her to understand and aid disabled children. Powers recognizes the important service that she provides to struggling children and says, "I do all the interviewing for prospective students, I supervise the therapists who work with the students, and I oversee our teaching staff around mental health issues."

The most rewarding part about Powers' career is witnessing children with real problems "successfully navigate school and social relationships....There is nothing like the feeling of watching someone who's had a hard time try to emerge from that and build on strength and resilience," Powers said. She cites her Human Development major as a springboard to her professional life that truly broadened her horizons.

Powers, a long-distance cyclist who annually partakes in an HIV/AIDS fundraiser, manages to balance her essential role as a director in Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts and her position as a trustee at the College. Although she serves on a number of committees, Powers admits "the Student Affairs Committee and EPC [Education Policy Committee] are incredibly meaningful to me."

Powers' concern for students has influenced her future ideas for the Board, and she hopes to remain a trustee for as long as the College will have her. "I think it's a really interesting time in terms of what's happening in the world, [especially] with finance. It's a cliché," Powers acknowledges, "but with crisis comes opportunity."

As a member of the Budget and Finance Committee, Powers has input into a portion of the College's expenditures. "The financial situation can help us focus on and prioritize...who we are and what we do at Colby."

For Powers, being on the Board is not obligatory: she gets as much out of the time she spends on the Hill as she puts into it.
"Staying in touch with a place that shaped who [she is] and being in a community where everyone is free to be who they are" are reasons enough to return to the attractive acres where Powers spent her college years.

As a trustee, Powers wants to watch other students lead fulfilled lives like she did, by "taking what you get here and then going out and making a difference in the world."