Although she admits, “I haven’t owned a bike since childhood,” Mackenzie Stunkard ’08 spent this past summer pedaling across the United States.
As a volunteer for Bike & Build, an organization that funds and helps execute affordable-housing projects, she joined 31 other cyclists to make the trek from coast to coast.
After dipping their wheels in the Atlantic in Boston, the group headed west. Their route took them through the Alleghenies—“I got to bike through my hometown!” the Pittsburgh native says—and across the Texas panhandle and the Arizona desert to Santa Barbara, Calif.
Two-wheeled transportation gave them a special connection to America. “When you stop in a small town and meet the local grocer, you get a completely different perspective of our country. It was really eye-opening for me,” says Stunkard.
Along the way, they stopped for “build days” in 10 cities, where they swung hammers and wielded nail guns, working together with other affordable-housing organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, to construct homes for families in need.
“It takes so little to make such a big impact,” she says, “and combining service and adventure made for an unforgettable summer!”
Below, Stunkard volunteers other thoughts and insights:
What is the most satisfying moment in your professional life?
I hope this is yet to come.
In your personal life?
Running into the Pacific Ocean after dreaming about it for 4,000 miles.
What is your best BC memory?
Watching the hockey team win the national championship.
What is your next goal?
Finding a job that utilizes my skills and passion.
What is one thing everyone should do while at BC?
Join a Kairos retreat.
How have you changed since graduation?
This summer only reinforced what I had already learned from Boston College. As I biked cross country for affordable housing, I was taken aback daily by the overwhelming generosity of strangers. Not only did this summer inspire me to do even more for my community, but it gave me a great deal of hope for the future of our country.
Why did you decide to attend BC?
After I was accepted, a family friend convinced me there was no other option. They were absolutely right. I immediately fell in love with everything from the campus to the enthusiasm of the students.
What is the secret to success?
I think Winston Churchill was on the right track: “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
Where is your favorite spot on the Heights?
The 50-yard line of Alumni Stadium.
What would you do if you were BC president for a day?
I would take the entire student body and staff into the surrounding community for a day of volunteering. Can you imagine the impact of 10,000 people donating eight hours of service?
What was your first job?
I was a lifeguard in high school.
Where did you live freshman year?
Fitzpatrick Hall on Upper Campus.
How do you relax?
By exercising or hitting the beach. Ideally, a combination of the two.
What was your favorite BC class?
“Forensics” with Professor Ann Wolbert Burgess.
What do you look forward to each day?
A cup of coffee and a good laugh.
What was your favorite BC activity?
Being a SuperFan.
What is something your friends don’t know about you?
After RVing to Notre Dame, I’m afraid they know everything.
How much can you sing of the BC fight song?
I know all the words, but I’m not sure if that qualifies as singing.
Who would play you in the film version of your life?
What was the best meal at the BC dining hall?
Finding an entire gluten-free meal at the dining hall was extremely difficult, so most of the food I ate came from the grocery store. Perhaps Elisabeth Hasselbeck ’99 should send BC Dining a copy of her book.