Campus News

Bowdoin Honors 304 Scholars at Sarah and James Bowdoin Day

Story posted October 07, 2002

Bowdoin's Sarah and James Bowdoin Day exercises were held Friday, October 4, in Morrell Gymnasium, to recognize the College’s highest-ranking scholars. A total of 304 students were named Sarah and James Bowdoin Scholars, with 48 of the Scholars earning Book Awards.

In his welcoming remarks, President Barry Mills recounted the history of the Bowdoin family: “Today we remember our founders and meet to celebrate the achievements of our scholars
. [Our students] are what Bowdoin is all about,
a community of informed individuals
[who develop] judgment and sensitivity
and understand other points of view.”

On Sarah and James Bowdoin Day, held during Parents Weekend, speeches are delivered by an outstanding student and a highly recognized practitioner in one of the liberal arts disciplines. This year's speakers were Carolyn Dion '05 and Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Dion, of East Boothbay, Maine, gave a speech titled "Taking it With You." Dion, a Latin scholar who plans to major in classics and minor in economics, spoke about her summer internship at a Boston brokerage firm, where she found herself filing papers all day ("rediscovering the alphabet") alongside former Ivy Leaguers and business school graduates still scraping to get ahead despite eight years of college.

While her first real encounter with the business world left her leery, she stressed that her liberal arts education and study of Latin would well prepare her to maintain an even keel through life: "As Cicero would say, ... 'If wisdom is attainable, let us not only win, but enjoy it.'"

"My wish is that my academic achievement is not only what helps me get my job, but manages to keep me sane while I am there, and everywhere my life takes me,” she said. “That it is what can turn the space between my desk and the 29th floor window into a battle of the minds, if only for a second, by opening a book. For, Latin may not land me my paycheck, but it will always make me a little more interesting. It will also bring me interesting friends, too, both living and deceased, who manage to speak and argue through time in a language that no longer exists."

Hrabowski delivered the talk "Education for the 21st Century: Creating a Climate of Success for All Students.” He encouraged students to ask “who am I, why am I here, what’s the significance of this experience and education, and where will it lead us?”

“Take the time to think about the significance of a college education,” he said. “In education the idea has to be ‘I’m here to see the light.’
You’re here to learn, to think, to read about ideas of all types, to learn about you and the people around you
. Get to know people from all over the world, appreciate the differences in human beings.”

When he was young, Hrabowski recounted, he went to jail with Dr. Martin Luther King. “I learned the power of the individual to change the world” and “the significance of education is that it’s never over,” he said.

“Look in the mirror and think about what your place is in the world,” he advised. “[And in finding your place], listen to the words of Tennyson: ‘That which we are, we are; / One equal temper of heroic hearts, / Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will / To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’”

Sarah and James Bowdoin scholarships are awarded each fall on the basis of work completed the previous academic year. The award is given to the twenty percent of all eligible students with the highest grade point average.

Book Awards are presented to every Sarah and James Bowdoin Scholar who earned a GPA of 4.00. The Award bears a replica of the early College bookplate serving to distinguish the James Bowdoin Collection in the library.

The Almon Goodwin Prize, presented to members of Phi Beta Kappa chosen by vote of the Board of Trustees of the College, was bestowed upon Matthew Harry Magenheim '03, Travis Adam Patten '03, and Monica Lynn Skoge '03.

Other Phi Beta Kappa members from the Class of '03 are Elizabeth Anne Barney, Erica Michelle Bellamy, Leah Dania Christensen, Angela Rose Commito, Andrew Thomas Dunn, Liesl Finn, Maggie Ann Fritz-Morkin, and Abbie Ann Klein.

The processional into Morrell Gym was led by the World Music Ensemble, who performed the Afro-Cuban drumming song "Bembe." The Bowdoin College Concert Band performed an interlude, John Williams' "March" from the film 1941. The Meddiebempsters led “Raise Songs to Bowdoin.” The World Music Ensemble led the processional, performing the Brazilian drumming song "Batucada."

Student marshals were Magenheim, Patten, and Skoge.

The recognition of James Bowdoin Scholars was begun in 1941 to honor those undergraduates who distinguish themselves by excellence in scholarship and to commemorate the Honorable James Bowdoin III (1752-1811), first patron of the College. James Bowdoin III, who asked that the College be named after his father, was an agriculturist, an art and book collector, and a diplomat who served as Thomas Jefferson's minister plenipotentiary to Spain from 1804-08. In 1997 by faculty vote the commemorative day and distinction as scholar were changed to recognize both Sarah and James Bowdoin, who were married from 1780 until his 1811 death. Like her husband, Sarah Bowdoin gave many gifts to the College, including most of the Bowdoin family portraits, which were bequeathed to the College upon her death.

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