Rottmann receives prestigious award
Jennifer Rottmann '02 smiles when she remembers watching the owner of a new Habitat for Humanity house impersonating Elvis at a Habitat benefit concert.
Rottmann's dedication and commitment to increasing awareness of the Upper Valley hunger and homelessness problem earned her the Milton Sims Kramer prize for last year. At the end of every academic year, the Board of Proprietors of The Dartmouth, Inc. awards the prize to a member of the lower three classes, who while maintaining a high scholastic standing has also contributed to the College community.
Rottmann, who has always found interaction with others to be the most rewarding part of community service, has spent much of her time at Dartmouth being involved with Habitat for Humanity.
She joined Habitat early during her freshman year because she "wanted to do something outside the Dartmouth bubble and interact with the community."
While she had not volunteered for Habitat before, Rottmann had volunteered at a food pantry in her hometown of Blue Hill, Me.
"I picked Habitat because there was a good group of people involved with it," she said, "but it was more important that I do some form of community service than that I pick a particular form of community service."
Rottmann chaired the Dartmouth chapter of Habitat from her sophomore through her junior spring.
The group has undertaken various projects during the years of Rottmann's involvement, but Rottmann best remembers working on the construction of a house in West Lebanon, along with the Upper Valley chapter of Habitat and organizing a panel discussion called "Faces of Homelessness" last winter, which drew 100 people.
Rottmann was particularly pleased that the panel discussion had a positive impact on the Dartmouth community and pushed some students to think about homelessness in ways they had not before. "I think it opened some people's eyes," she said.
She also pursued her passion for fighting homelessness during her off-terms.
Rottmann held internships at the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, D.C. during her junior fall and the summer between her junior and senior years.
While working at the National Coalition, Rottmann organized a number of outreach programs for students in the Washington area.
She also kept a journal describing her thoughts and feelings about her work and made a number of drawings. When she returned to Dartmouth, she organized an exhibit of her work, which was put on display at the Tucker Foundation.
Rottmann is unsure of what she will pursue next year after graduation.
"But, whatever I do, it will have to do with antipoverty efforts," she said.
She has considered returning to work for the National Coalition or working for a similar organization. However, she noted that nearly all of these programs are based in Washington D.C., and she has had ambivalent feelings about living in the nation's capital since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Rottmann holds an internship in public policy at the moment, which she enjoys, but she is unsure if she would prefer developing policies to working directly with the homeless.
"I find both important," she said. "But I find personal relationships to be the most fulfilling aspect of this work, so I don't know if I'd be happy working just with policy."
Rottmann may return to her interest in writing as she makes career plans. "Writing is a way to reach into people's hearts in a way that statistics don't," she said.
Sylvia Langford, dean of Upperclass Students and dean of the Class of 2002, noted that the Milton Sims Kramer Award is a high honor, especially because the award honors students who are not just highly involved with the community, but who excel scholastically as well.
She added that the award is also special because it honors people who are not necessarily "showy", but who are quietly, deeply involved in community service.