Student Profiles

Adam Paltrineri '07

Adam Paltrineri

Adam Paltrineri '07

Hometown: Holliston, Massachusetts
Major: History

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
Coming from a small suburban town in New England, I knew that I couldn't live without the bitterly cold winter since that is my favorite time of the year. I was lucky — and obstinate — in narrowing my choices for college down to a few small liberal arts colleges by my senior year in high school. When it came time to decide on a school, I decided to spend a night at Bowdoin with a first-year student to get a real feel for the environment. The students I stayed with at Bowdoin simply blew me away with their generosity and outgoing natures. The college seemed like a family setting, which I really grew to love. It was an easy decision from there!

Why did you choose your major?
Originally history was simply a hobby of mine, an interesting side note to explore on family vacations and such. After dozing through plenty of history courses in high school, I finally became aware of all the complications in telling the story of human beings all over the world. And that's what I think history is all about: understanding how people see the problems of their lives in a larger context. Finding out that the Bowdoin History Department comprises professors who want to find answers to these questions led me to solidify my choice of major. I haven't looked back since.

What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
Of course it is difficult to choose one favorite class out of all of the classes I have had the opportunity to take. But if I had to choose one class, I would probably select High School with now-retired Professor Penny Martin in the Education Department. After having my eyes opened to the serious issues facing the American public education system in Education 101 during my first year, Professor Martin put the ball in my court by challenging me and three classmates to design our own charter school from the ground up. This incredibly enjoyable, arduous, and complicated journey gave me a much better idea of how vital it is that public schools are responsive not just to ideas of "higher standards," but also to the individual needs of students who must not be allowed to fall through the cracks. This class in particular convinced me that teaching was where I was headed in the immediate future.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
Besides all of the professors in the Education Department who have helped me decide to teach after graduation, Professor Dallas Denery in the History Department has been instrumental in ensuring that I receive the necessary conditioning of any good European historian. In three of his courses — History of History, Cultures of Deception, and Problems in European History — I have had the chance to share my thoughts and ideas on everything from Augustine to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Professor Denery's role as a guide through some of the most important authors and ideas in the course of Western civilization has been amazing. During several small writing-intensive seminars with Professor Denery, I have been able to work with him one-on-one to improve my writing and analytical skills.

As one of the more laid-back members of the faculty, Professor Denery has also taught me time and again that it is easy to find something to love in the study of history if you can recognize when an idea really tugs at your mind and won't let go.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
Since high school I have been a DJ on non-commercial, educational radio stations. Since my first year at Bowdoin I have hosted a radio show with my musical soul-mate Ted Power, who is also a senior, on Bowdoin's radio station, WBOR 91.1 FM. For the past three years I have helped run WBOR as part of the all-student management team. I am now Station Manager, a job which involves making broadcast schedules, record keeping, and making sure the station serves the needs of the community. The station is currently slogging through a lengthy reapplication process with the Federal Communications Commission. I have learned that it takes lots of time and energy to engage with the federal bureaucracy. We now broadcast (static-free) 24 hours a day [link]. WBOR's devoted following has been a big source of motivation in my involvement with the station throughout my time at Bowdoin.

I also founded a sketch comedy group called Ironic T-Shirt with four other Bowdoin students after we [didn't make] the Improvabilities, Bowdoin's student improv troupe, during our first year at the school. We film, act, produce, write, and edit all of our material. We have had three years of smashing success and produced a short film called Trixophrenia during our sophomore year. We are currently working on a 30-minute film called The Mystery of Brown Beard's Ghost: The Movie, which we plan to release in December and enter into film festivals around the country. I have always found that the best way to blow off steam is to crack a joke and being able to subject other people to my warped sense of humor is an opportunity I can never pass up!

For the past two years I have also played Ultimate Frisbee for Bowdoin's club team, the Stoned Clown. Being part of a growing team and playing a sport which is always evolving and presents unique physical and mental challenges has helped round out my Bowdoin experience.

What have you done during your summers?
I spent the summer after my first year interning for State Representative Paul Loscocco in Boston at the State House, where I got a close-up view of state government. During the summer after my sophomore year, I worked in the History Department at Bowdoin helping to integrate technology into professors' everyday lessons, allowing teachers and students to take advantage of the college's Information Technology resources in as many classes as possible. Last summer I worked as a teaching intern at the St. Paul's School Advanced Studies Program in Concord, New Hampshire. I taught the Mass Media class with thirteen of the brightest public school students in New Hampshire, and it was a dream come true to analyze, debate, and create films and TV shows with them. I also help my parents at our family's general store in Holliston during every spare moment I have at home.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
Some of the best times I have had at Bowdoin have actually happened almost a hundred miles north of the college while skiing with friends on the weekends. Jumping out of bed at 5:30 in the morning on a Saturday doesn't sound like fun until you think of the chance to make fresh tracks at ski resorts like Sugarloaf or Sunday River. Getting to know so many amazing people outside of the usual routine of classes, meals, and parties (by virtue of my willingness to drive them to the mountain!) has meant the world to me. And when you have classes, clubs, and sports to worry about all at once it is absolutely necessary to take a day for yourself every now and again. If you've never tried skiing before coming to Maine, give it a shot because we have some of the best mountains on the east coast right in our back yard!

What are your plans for after graduation?
I am planning on teaching history at a public school, but beyond that I think I will take a back seat and let fate guide me on my way.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
You can't come here knowing what to do with yourself and have it absolutely one hundred percent set in your mind. If you do, you will be throwing away so many wonderful experiences that it would be an absolute shame. It sounds like a cliché, but you should also never think twice about taking advantage of all that the college has to offer in terms of academics, cultural and social resources. While it helps to stop and smell the flowers occasionally, you will never be at a place and time in your life where you can take so many chances at once and where failure is just a learning experience. Live it up!

What quirky or fun thing did you wish you knew before you came to Bowdoin?
If someone had told me that wearing sandals in the winter is fine at college I would have been a little prepared. Since when is it okay to wear sandals when it's 30 degrees out? The first time I saw a girl walking across the quad in Teva sandals in November I wanted to wrap her feet in my jacket I felt so badly for her freezing feet.

Story posted on October 13, 2006

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