Yesterday, on the first sunny day in the middle of a rainy week, two students beat the cold on stationary bicycles in the Gasson Quad. Daniel Sundaram, MCAS ’16, and Lauren Studiner, CSON ’18, biked outdoors to raise awareness in conjunction with Boston College’s Habitat for Humanity Club for their summer program, Bike & Build.
Bike & Build is a program for young adults to cycle across the United States, either regionally or nationally, and to work building low-income housing along the way. Both Sundaram and Studiner raised $4,500 each to fund their excursions.
BC’s two riders will be taking separate transcontinental routes that both span over 4,000 miles each. Sundaram will ride from New Haven, CT to Half-Moon Bay, CA over 76 days, while Studiner will ride from Charleston, SC to Santa Cruz, CA over 82 days.
“I see this as both a great way to transition out of college and a way to affirm that commitment to service,” Sundaram said. “My goal is to really to affirm that commitment to myself, and second to see the country and go on this great adventure.”
Sundaram and Studiner sought to raise awareness about their cause and to encourage others to join them. BC’s Habitat for Humanity Club set up a table in the Gasson Quad today and, the two bikers rode stationary bikes next to it. They handed out Bike & Build brochures and bumper stickers to students and faculty and encouraged students without summer plans to sign up to ride themselves or to donate to the program. They also encouraged students to record their guess about the total miles the two bikers would ride between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. that day, with a gift card as a prize.
Bike & Build was established in 2002 and has attracted over 3,000 riders. It has donated over $5.8 million and 200,000 build- site hours at 2,700 homes over the course of its existence. The program encourages lifetime personal growth through service and civic engagement during its cycling trips. It is not formally affiliated with Habitat for Humanity, but it partners with some of its sites along the way.
“As far as expectations, I expect it’s going to be hard,” he said.
This summer marks Sundaram’s first significant experience with cycling, an athletic domain to which he is a relative newcomer, he said.
“I was a rower for many years, on the crew team and everything, so a lot of the moves for biking and rowing are very similar,” Sundaram said. “But I’ve never really spent a lot of time out cycling. So a lot of this stuff is very new.”
But while Sundaram may not have much cycling experience, he has some prior knowledge of working with low-income housing and Habitat in Humanity in particular. He worked with the organization in high school and on one event in Washington, D.C. more recently.
He then reached out to his connections in BC’s Habitat for Humanity branch to help to spread awareness of both Bike & Build and Habitat for Humanity on campus, originally conceived as a fundraising event. Sundaram commented that he was pleased with the turnout yesterday and was even pleasantly surprised to note that several students had requested information about riding this summer.
Sundaram feels sure that parts of the trip will not be easy, but he feels optimistic about it overall, he said.
“As far as expectations, I expect it’s going to be hard,” he said. “I expect that when I’m biking through the middle of Kansas and Missouri doing 160 miles a day when it’s 90 degrees out, I’m going to go through a pretty dark time. But I think it’s going to be fun, and it’s going to help me build a lot of character with some great friends. I’m sure I’ll get very close with people.”
He also remarked that he feels especially connected to this program as a way of living out BC’s mission of service, a capstone for his four years at the University.
“I’m graduating this year and I see this trip as kind of a way to affirm a commitment to service that I’ve really learned about at Boston College. I’ve had a great experience at BC, and as I wrap up my time here, I want to start a life as a person for others in a way to actually live that motto,” Sundaram said.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor