“Growing up among the Bowdoin pines was the greatest gift my parents have ever given to our family.”
A little over fourteen years ago my parents gathered the family around the kitchen table for an announcement: we were moving to Maine. I’ll admit that I’m not proud of how I reacted. I was terrified at parting with my best friends, my home, and my school—leaving behind the entire universe that I had come to know. I turned to my father and said, “You are ruining my life.”
I have never been so wrong.
My brothers and I quickly learned to love Brunswick. Playing on the Bowdoin quad, running in the town commons, and eating Fat Boy’s drive-in each summer—we assimilated into the caring and friendly community here. Growing up in the shadow of Bowdoin also had its benefits. Family dinners with people like professors Franco and Perlman gave me insight into the intellectual electricity of the college. Watching a Bowdoin student’s recital inspired me to start playing guitar. My friends and I idolized Bowdoin sports teams—playing touch football behind the goal posts at Whittier Field and screaming from the stands at Dayton Arena. This college and community influenced so much of the bedrock of my character today.
There is a fluid boundary between the community and the college. The values and kindness that define Brunswick imprint themselves on the college and its students. Bowdoin’s diversity, its academic, artistic, and athletic vibrancy, and its dedication to the common good spread out into the community beyond the brick buildings of the Quad. This cultural osmosis made me a better student, brother, son, and friend. The values of this college taught me to think deeply, work hard, and play fair. But most importantly, I learned the impact of being kind—a lesson not necessarily taught on the streets of New York.
As a child, I would walk with my father across the Bowdoin Quad every day on my way to Longfellow Elementary School. Together we would wave to students and briefly chat as we passed through campus. For me, the “Bowdoin Hello” was not an abstract concept, but an everyday reality— a simple action that makes people feel valued and creates a sense of belonging that sets Bowdoin apart.
I still say hello to strangers as I pass by on my college campus. Typically, they look at me as if I am crazy, and maybe waving at stopped cars in a crosswalk in Boston does warrant a honk and some choice words. But I choose to use those moments to remember how truly special Bowdoin and Brunswick are.
Growing up among the Bowdoin pines was the greatest gift my parents have ever given to our family. Reflecting upon the last fourteen years, I can only say “thank you” to my parents and to all members of the Bowdoin and Brunswick communities, who have made us feel so welcome and loved. This will forever be our home.
Youngest son of Barry and Karen Mills