Alana Wooley '06

Alana Wooley

Alana Wooley '06

Hometown: Boerne, Texas
Major: Gender and Women's Studies, with a minor in Biology

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I applied early decision, not necessarily knowing what it meant. When I spoke with alumni and others who were familiar with Bowdoin, they spoke highly of the academics, and the liberal arts framework of the institution. In addition, the financial assistance to students would make my college hopes a reality. Being from South Central Texas, I was anxious to discover this region of the northeastern United States, cooler weather, and snow. Knowing that the population at the college was becoming more diverse was also an important factor. All of this together made Bowdoin very appealing to me.

Why did you choose you major?
When I came to Bowdoin I was pre-med, and wanted to be a biology or neuroscience major. I began to take women's studies courses as an elective. I originally wanted to become a doctor, perhaps working in regions with little or no access to medical care. However, my interest in studying gender and women's position in history developed with each Gender and Women's Studies course I took. Though I enjoyed the sciences, I was most attracted to the social issues we discussed in my Gender and Women's Studies classes.

What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
My favorite course is my independent study about the Somali secondary migration to Lewiston, Maine, with Associate Professor Jennifer Scanlon. I have enjoyed learning about a subject outside of the classroom and discussing my research findings directly with Professor Scanlon. This experience has allowed me to work independently on an issue of particular interest to me. In addition, I have learned how to use primary resources such as interviews to answer questions which academics in my field are currently researching and to explore areas of history which are very new, not yet documented, and still evolving.

Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
As I mentioned, I am currently studying the Somali secondary migration to Lewiston, Maine, which began in February, 2001. This subject is of particular interest to me because it is a relatively new issue in Maine. Additionally, it is a relatively small case of migration through which I can study the broader issue of immigration. The Somali resettlement gained national attention when I first came to Bowdoin, and I often wondered about the international and national history which led Somalis to Maine, such a cold, predominantly rural state, with few racial and ethnic minorities.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
The last three years I have worked as an academic mentor at the Baldwin Center, assisting students with time management and study strategies. In the past I have worked with students on writing skills and introductory chemistry and biology.

This past summer I conducted an oral history research project with Professor Scanlon, helping to plan and conduct oral history narratives of women readers of a popular fiction series. I was able to design a website to enable us to connect to national and international online fans of the series.

During my first two years at Bowdoin I received a winter break mini-grant through the Career Planning Center. During those breaks I returned to the elementary school in my town and worked with at-risk students on math skills.

In my first year and sophomore year I was the community service officer for the Class of 2006. I am currently a Safe Space sexual assault advocate. Last year I mentored a girl through Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Also, last year I began volunteering with a local domestic violence agency, Family Crisis Services. As a volunteer, I regularly cover a 24-hour hotline. This experience has been particularly rewarding, as I have been able to meet many community members through volunteering and learn about issues which face my community in Brunswick, Maine.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I did not study abroad. However, I will be going to Thailand for an alternative spring break trip to look at the interconnections between poverty and sex trafficking.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
Some that come to mind are long dinners with friends and eating my first lobster. Additionally, my community service pre-orientation trip introduced me to many non-profit organizations in Maine, the community, and gave me an opportunity to see the Maine landscape. I made friendships with students with whom I still remain in contact.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation I would like to work in public health or immigration services for a year or two before going to graduate school. I am beginning my search for a job and plan to spend some time with the Career Planning Center.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
I would advise prospective students to visit the Bowdoin campus, which I actually did not do. I would also encourage students to contact Bowdoin alums or current Bowdoin students to gain a true understanding of Bowdoin College academics and social life. To first-year students, I suggest that if there is something missing at Bowdoin, create it. A friend and I discovered that we have a mutual interest in issues of domestic violence and are working to create an organization on campus. Branch out. Meet new people in unexpected places. If you have an academic interest which you do not feel is addressed in classes, or you wish to explore further, plan an independent study with a professor. It is a great chance to work independently and closely with a professor.

Story posted on January 03, 2006

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