Gracie Baldwin '16

For our first Campus Celebrity of the year, we interviewed Gracie Baldwin, a senior at Colby with an incredible amount of passion for a great cause. Keep scrolling to find out more!

Where are you from?

Weston, Connecticut, but I lived in Japan for 5 years from ages 3 to 8!

What is your major?

I'm a Biology major and a Chemistry minor.

What has been your favorite part about Colby so far?

The people! I love meeting new people all the time because everyone at Colby is so amazing, interesting, smart, and funny!

What are you involved in on campus?

I'm a Research Assistant in the Immunology Lab, a volunteer for Best Buddies—I'm paired with a mentally disabled adult from Quarry Road—, and I work with Gift of Life.

Tell us about Gift of Life.

Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation (non-for-profit) is one of two National Registries whose mission it is to increase the size and diversity of the national bone marrow registry through running bone marrow drives, spreading awareness, and raising money. Bone Marrow Transplants are needed for patients dying of blood cancers such as Leukemia and Lymphoma. Approximately every 4 minutes, someone in the United States is diagnosed with a type of blood cancer, and 70% of these patients are unable to find a bone marrow match within their family, therefore relying on the national registry to find an unrelated donor. All it takes to sign up for the registry is to swab one's DNA on a cue tip (no blood or needles) and they could be the life saving match for a patient in need.

Tell us about your work with Gift of Life/

Last year I interned with Gift of Life during the spring semester. I ran multiple drives throughout the semester in various places and events on campus and by meeting with individual sports teams and clubs. I was able to register over 530 students! I could never have accomplished this without dedicated volunteers as well as the overwhelming enthusiasm and support of my friends and classmates. In September, I received an email that one of the people swabbed at a drive I ran at Colby was a match for a six year old boy with leukemia! That was an absolutely amazing moment and very motivating for my efforts this year.

How can we get involved?

If you are at Colby and are interested in volunteering you can email me at [email protected]. I am organizing drives almost every week so there is almost always an opportunity to help swab potential donors and get swabbed yourself. Also the cost to process each kit that is registered is $60, so fundraising is extremely important. People can donate here: https://www.tilt.com/tilts/gift-of-life-at-colby-college-grace-baldwin/description. Lastly, people can like the Facebook page.

What is your goal for Gift of Life this year?

My goal is to continue swabbing students and raise $2000! I actually have already raised $967 thanks to a funding page I created (listed above) and a cocktail fundraiser party I am organizing that is going to occur on October 12 in my hometown. I also already have a bunch of drives planned this semester, including drives in the library, Athletic Center, and at Pub Night.

Favorite candy?

Reeses.

Flats or heels?

Flats always…except when I’m in New York City!

Favorite musician/artist/group?

Dispatch.

Favorite dining hall at Colby?

I’ve always been a Dana girl, but I’m slowly converting to Foss.

Any advice for people thinking about becoming heavily involved in an organization such as Gift of Life?

My advice: set big goals—goals you never think you can achieve. I’ve never sent so many emails in my entire life, I’ve never gotten so many “no’s” in my entire life, and I have never felt so fulfilled and passionate about a cause in my entire life! From working for Gift of Life I’ve learned that if you find something you are so extremely passionate and excited about then dedicating a lot of time—for me 10 hours every week—doesn’t feel at all like a burden. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity! I have learned so much and become more empowered and confident in myself and my ability to make a difference on the world around me. A quote that one of my managers at Gift of Life said I think really embodies this: “No single person is extraordinary. But everyday ordinary people do extraordinary things.” I think every single person that graduates college should recognize that they are in such a unique position where they can accomplish ANYTHING they set their mind to. Anyone that is trying to make a difference or accomplish something should let their fear, passion, and pressure empower and encourage them. So again, my advice is set a goal, a big goal, a goal that scares you and makes you feel stupid for even suggesting it, and then just go for it!