Eleven of Bowdoin's newest alumni reflect on their education and look ahead to what's next.
Every year, as a new group of first year students arrives on campuses around the country, lists begin to pop up with facts that, taken together, ostensibly provide a picture of them, a popular mindset. They include statements like "Stores have always had checkout scanners" and "Lawrence Welk has always been dead." Even without the silliness, the idea is clearly a light attempt to show that students today are different from students in the past because the world in which they grew up has changed so much.
But, reading the words of some of Bowdoin's newest notable graduates, what is more impressive than their differences as they arrive is the timelessness of what they have learned, and the constancy of the bright optimism and ambition with which they depart.
Major Environmental Design/Environmental Studies (self-designed)
Hometown Westfield, New Jersey
Bowdoin Activities Community Action Fellow, People Plus; Psi-Upsilon Environmental Fellow at Cultivating Community in Portland; Alternative Spring Break Trip to Lima, Peru; Environmental Studies Student Advisory Committee; Mid-Coast Hunger Prevention Program; Stone Soup Co-Op; Outing Club leader; Quantitative Skills Tutor
Inspiring Academic Experience I wrote an honors thesis on the Portland, Maine, Public Market that existed from 1996-2006. I was using the market as a case study for how public markets can be used as an urban renewal tool in US cities today. It was truly a culmination of all the courses I have taken at Bowdoin towards my major.
Mentor My academic advisor Jill Pearlman has been a mentor to me both academically and personally. Having designed my own major, it was so important for me to have an advisor that was supportive and helpful in shaping my academic path. But Professor Pearlman has also inspired me to think beyond the classroom, to challenge myself, and to create my own, meaningful experience at Bowdoin.
Study Away I studied abroad for the summer following my sophomore year at the Denmark International Study Program in Copenhagen, where I studied architecture.
Best Road Trip The day after my last final of junior year, I left Maine and started driving to Big Sur, California. After a night in New York, we headed west. Camping out in places like Minnesota, North Dakota, and the Redwoods was incredible. But the best part of the whole trip was that I did it with my best friend from Bowdoin, Katherine. I only knew Katherine for a year by then, but by the time we reached Montana, I knew we'd be friends for a long time.
Hometown Baltimore, Maryland
Bowdoin activities Bowdoin Student Government, Class of 2007 Officer Team, Residential Life Staff, Tour Guide Program
How are you different? Bowdoin made me believe in people more. It made me see that when people are willing to risk themselves intellectually, amazing things can happen.
Mentor Professor Yarbrough in the government department introduced me to political theory, and it is safe to
say that it changed my life. She believed in me when I was afraid to believe in myself.
of what accomplishment are you most proud? I'm proud of the teams that I had to chance to lead while at Bowdoin. The two BSG Officer Teams redefined student government at Bowdoin ... The entire BSG was remarkably tuned into campus life and every week would show up ready to actively engage administrators and each other. And the Class of 2007 set the bar high for all subsequent classes. '07 has a distinct feel, and I think we did a good job of capturing it and aiding in the formation of a cogent class identity. I am proud to be '07. Finally, I'm proud to be friends of my past proctees. Living in a first-year dorm for three of my four years at Bowdoin was amazing, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything.
What's next? I am a Teach for America Corps Member and am planning to teach 6th grade math in Brooklyn, New York. For the long-term, I hope to be actively involved in politics.
A picture that represents bowdoin The Offer of the College.
Song that will always remind you of Bowdoin "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley.
Hometown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Bowdoin activities JV men's soccer, WBOR DJ, drummer in a campus band (The Spins), timpanist for an orchestra, captain of an intramural ice hockey team, actor in "Proof."
How are you different? My educational experience at Bowdoin has made me more skeptical of conventional wisdom and simple explanations. Many deeply held notions were shattered by classes that I took over my four years. Instead of accepting the "easiest" answers, I've learned to question initial assumptions and responses and to consider the idea that there are some things that we simply can't explain, or explain yet.
Study Away I studied in Paris during my junior year. I took classes at French universities and lived with a French couple, both of whom are now dear friends of mine. Being fluent in a second language was always a goal of mine, and studying away allowed me to achieve it. Now I want to learn a third. Leaving Bowdoin for a year was hard. It took me a month to make the decision. But in the end I realized that spending a year abroad in the course of a lifetime was something that not many people get the chance to do, and that the experience would be too valuable to pass up.
What's next? I start working in July for NERA Economic Consultants. That will probably last for about two years, then I plan to travel for several months, if not years. After that, I think I will end up in graduate school, though I am not sure for what.
Favorite Bowdoin food Bowdoin log.
Song that will always remind you of Bowdoin "Commencement Exercises" by Erich Carey, an independent artist.
Major German, Physics
Hometown Melrose, Massachusetts
Bowdoin activities Men’s JV soccer team, men’s varsity soccer team, men’s volleyball team, res life RA, Hillel treasurer, tuba in the concert band, Bowdoin Men Against Sexual Assault (BMASV)
Surprises My high school did not have a varsity volleyball team, but I was always interested in the sport. So, when I arrived at Bowdoin and found myself with no physical activity to do in the winter, I joined up. Picking up the sport in college was challenging, but the team was a great group of guys and I had a blast playing. BMASV was also something totally new for me. Founding a sexual assault awareness group for men was a little revolutionary, but Kevin Mullins ’07 managed to find a group of dedicated Bowdoin men, and what we’ve done has really been incredible.
Inspiring Academic Experience The honors project I completed with Professor Jill Smith in the German department was, by far, my most rewarding academic experience.My grandfather is a Holocaust survivor, and I had always planned on doing a Holocaust-related project. While I was studying abroad in Berlin, I took a course on contemporary German-Jewish literature. The course focused on many of the continuing issues children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors experience living as Jews in Germany. When I returned, Professor Smith and I decided to focus on the works of one filmmaker and one author to explore how Jews represent themselves in Germany today and what these representations say about the relationship between Jews and the whole of German society.
Mentor Professors Cerf, Tautz, Cafferty, and Smith in the German Department — they’re incredible people and collectively make up an incredible academic department. Many of the best decisions I have ever made were a result of their advice. Professor Cerf in particular has had a large influence on me. As a child of a Holocaust survivor, he encouraged me to explore my family’s past and continue to research and explore the Holocaust as a part of my education. Outside of the classroom, I only spent a season on the men’s soccer team with Coach Fran O’Leary but I learned more than I ever could have imagined.When the going got tough, Coach O’Leary was fond of reminding us that “Some of your worst days at Bowdoin will be some of the best days of your life.” Those words stuck with me.
Major Italian Theater Studies (self-designed)
Hometown Newcastle, Maine
Bowdoin activities Ironic T-Shirt (sketch comedy), BCN, BOKA, Italian TA, Theater Department performances.
Surprises A small group of friends and I created a sketch comedy group "Ironic T-Shirt". Using the film equipment provided by the Bowdoin Cable Network (BCN), we were able to produce dozens of skits and four movies. The creation of the group came from our common desire to produce comedy...and the fact that we were all rejected from "The Improvabilities" freshman year!...my work in "Ironic T-Shirt" has taught me that if an opportunity doesn't pan out, you can always create your own.
Inspiring Academic Experience My year-long independent study in Italian theater. Last fall, I began translating and adapting "L'Impresario" by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, written in 1644, in order that I spend the spring semester directing, designing, and acting in the play. The project was an enormous challenge, mostly because the text of the original play was incomplete. I had to finish the play according to how I thought Bernini would, if he were around today. I was extremely satisfied with the performance, and the response from the audience has only encouraged me to want to continue creating new, strange theater.
What's next? I fly to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, then to Almaty in Kazakhstan to film a documentary about emerging independent film in Kazakhstan since the fall of the Soviet Union. After that, I will be participating in a theater intensive with the SITI Company in Saratoga Springs.
Song that will always remind you of Bowdoin "Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac"- Dizzy Gillespie.
Major Geology and Latin American Studies, Spanish Minor
Hometown Guilford, Connecticut
Bowdoin activities Outing Club, Evergreens, Sustainable Bowdoin
How are you different? My time at Bowdoin has made me feel more passionate about certain issues, such as the environment, but has also given me the tools to approach those issues and try to understand them from a variety of perspectives. I have learned to appreciate the debate around issues and not hold on to one opinion without trying to understand others' opinions.
Study Away I spent a semester in Oaxaca, Mexico studying grassroots development, social change, and Spanish. I even got to spend a month living in the mountains outside the city studying the traditions of corn growing in a small community for an independent study! It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I'm still in touch with friends there.
Of what accomplishment are you most proud? The success of the student "Clean Energy Now" campaign, where I worked as part of a group of fifteen or so students and the administration to encourage Bowdoin to purchase 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. As a result, our electricity now comes from the Worumbo Hydropower facility in Lisbon Falls, twenty miles from Bowdoin. Being a part of that decision was really exciting. That ties into my work this semester with Katherine Kirklin '07 and Professor DeWitt John on an independent study investigating the feasibility of carbon neutrality at Bowdoin. We looked at the great things Bowdoin had already done in terms of sustainability as well as what other schools were doing, and tried to identify opportunities for Bowdoin to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.
Surprises I never expected to fall in love with and connect with Maine as much as I did at Bowdoin. I think that Maine is a really special place, and that Bowdoin would not be Bowdoin if it were not in Maine.
A picture that represents bowdoin A group of seniors crowded in a raft during the senior rafting trip with the Outing Club this spring. It represents some of my favorite things about Bowdoin - Maine, the Outing Club, and the great people I have met.
Song that will always remind you of Bowdoin "Fidelity" by Regina Spektor. My roommates and I listened to it and sang to it on any car trip of any length and it will always make me laugh.
Major English and Environmental Studies
Hometown Larchmont, New York
Bowdoin activities Outing Club, Chamber music ensembles, Evergreens, Clean Energy Now, Stone Soup Co-op (co-founder)
Surprises The Outing Club was a totally new experience for me, as I had little experience in the outdoors before coming to Bowdoin. Also, working with friends to start the Stone Soup Co-op, a student-run dining co-op feeding 50 students weekly with organic and local foods, was a very new experience. Becoming politically engaged on environmental issues was new for me too. In all cases, I think I recognized a spirit of inclusion and commitment in the student leaders in all of these areas, which I was drawn to.
How are you different? Being at Bowdoin has helped me to develop a deep commitment to the environment, an issue that had not been of such great importance to me before I came. Learning from teachers and mentors in the Environmental Studies Program, as well as fellow students, I have learned how important, exciting, and rewarding working to protect the environment can be.
What's next? I am moving to Big Sur, California, to work for the State Parks service, where I have interned for two summers. In the fall I hope to apply to English PhD programs for the following year.
A picture that represents bowdoin The house on Mere Point Road where I have lived this year, with all of my roommates.
Major Biology, minor in government
Hometown Hamilton, Massachusetts
Bowdoin activities Bowdoin Women in Business Club, Writing Assistant for the Writing Project, Peer Career Advisor for the Career Planning Center, Publicity Manager for several Masque and Gown productions, freelance journalist for the Times Record
Surprises When I first came to Bowdoin, I would never have thought that as a senior, I would serve as a co-founder and co-president of a business club. I'm interested in science and communications-two fields not traditionally associated with business!
Inspiring Academic Experience As an aspiring science journalist, taking an independent study with Professor Anthony Walton was a tremendously rewarding and eye-opening experience. Professor Walton taught me that to become a good writer, one must first be a well-versed and thoughtful reader.
Mentor Hadley Horch, Barry Logan, and Mike Palopoli have mentored me in biology, helping me with everything from course selection to honors thesis revisions to making tough choices about summer internships and post-graduate plans. Karen Mills and Anne Shields served as truly inspiring advisors to the Bowdoin Women in Business Club (BWIB) and I am immensely grateful for their encouragement and enduring support. Meadow Davis of the Women's Resource Center gave BWIB a home and served as a fabulous mentor for all of the members of the club!
What's next? I will be working as a Science and Engineering Mass Media Fellow for National Public Radio West in Los Angeles, California, for ten weeks. I hope to continue pursuing my dream of becoming a full-fledged science writer by working for a research institute or publication and eventually getting an advanced degree in science journalism or in the sciences.
A picture that represents bowdoin After graduation, my roommate, Elizabeth Sweet, and I had an open house in the backyard of our apartment where our families and friends could come to meet each other and to say goodbye. Someone's dad took a picture of us ...All of the friends in that photo were there for me from the first week of college until the last-it makes me think of everything we experienced together and will always represent a crucial part of my college experience-enduring friendships.
Song that will always remind you of Bowdoin "Don't Stop Believin"...as played by Racer-X.
Major Gender and Women's Studies major, Education minor
Hometown New York City
Bowdoin activities Women's basketball, Bowdoin Queer Straight Alliance
Mentor I was lucky enough to have one of the best coaches in the country. Stef is a teacher, a role model, a leader, a great communicator, and a person who knows how to get the most out of the women she works with. Her work ethic is beyond anything I have ever seen... She leads by example in everything she does.
What's next? I'm not exactly sure what kind of work I will be doing yet, but I am looking for jobs working with youth...I am also in contact with people about working on issues surrounding homophobia and sports.
Best road trip Driving the San Juan Skyway in Southern Colorado, from Durango, to Telluride, to Ouray and back to Durango.
Song that will always remind you of Bowdoin "Imma shina" by youngbloodz. It was the song our team ran out to for warm ups.
Bowdoin activities Baldwin Program for Academic Development Mentor Quantitative Skills Tutor Anokha, Multicultural Chair, President Up 'Til Dawn Fundraising Campaign for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Executive Board Director Kamerling Society (Chemistry Club), President
Inspiring Academic Experience I was selected through a scholarship program to conduct clinical research at Maine Medical Center. Working under the direction of Dr. Kathleen Fairfield, I became fascinated by the synergy that exists at the heart of medicine: the patient-phsycian dynamic. As the patients with whom I was working were often non-English speaking immigrants, I also realized how challenging it is for physicians to bridge the schisms of language, culture, and belief systems.
Of what accomplishment are you most proud? My greatest pleasure came from leading Anokha, Bowdoin's South Asian Association, and sharing with the campus and broader community the vibrant culture of South Asia. When I arrived at Bowdoin, the Association was still in its infant stages, but growing up in a small French Caucasian town, where I was the only person of Indian heritage, I was thrilled to arrive at Bowdoin and see even five South Asians.
Surprises I disliked Bowdoin with a passion when I first came to visit. I came with my father and sister on a cloudy, rainy day; my tour guide had a cloak on; and we were shown the tiniest, messiest dorm room possible (I am somewhat of a neat freak). I can now look back on this attitude and laugh. Bowdoin turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
What's next? I will be attending the Rochester University School of Medicine and Dentistry. My long-term career aspirations involve specializing in cardiac disease. I am considering the possibility of focusing on heart disease in females.
Favorite Bowdoin food Baked macaroni and cheese!
Song that will always remind you of Bowdoin "Magahi Ve" (from the Bollywood film, "Kal Ho Naa Ho"), the song to which I choreographed Anokha's first dance.
Major English/ Theater
Hometown Malden, Massachusetts
Bowdoin activities Leader of the Improvabilities, Masque and Gown productions, Theater and Dance Department productions, and master of ceremonies of many Bowdoin events including Parent's Weekend, Homecoming, Vague Dance Shows, ASA Fashion Shows, and the November 2006 campaign launch
Inspiring Academic Experience I took a senior seminar this past spring entitled Interracial Narratives, which was taught by professor Guy Mark Foster. Being biracial myself, I was very invested in this course and the literature and topics that we would be discussing. It turned out to be one of the best classes I have taken at Bowdoin and I got to be close friends with Professor Foster.
How are you different? In the first talk President Mills had with us, as freshmen on the steps of the Art Museum, he told us that we are our own biggest competitors. In other larger universities students compete with each other in order to get ahead, while here at Bowdoin we only have to compete with ourselves, and that is a far greater challenge.
Mentor Davis Robinson was the first professor I met at Bowdoin, and he is a friend that I will keep until I die. He has taught me what it is to live life as an artist, and what it is to be a man. Davis directed me in the production of "Angels in America: Millennium Approaches" my sophomore year, and for the first time I felt like an actor. He treated us as true artists, and inspired us to do some of the most profound, and powerful work this college has seen.
Favorite Bowdoin food Sweet and Sour Tofu followed by a Bowdoin log.
Song that will always remind you of Bowdoin "Baby, It's Cold Outside" (Elizabeth Jones and I have a dance that goes along with it.)