Alice Lee '07

Alice Lee

Alice Lee '07

Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I basically chose colleges to apply to by looking at a map of the United States and crossing out all of the states where I didn't want to live. Although I had never visited Maine before I took a tour at Bowdoin, I enjoyed the landscape and the intimacy of the campus. I especially liked how the students seemed able to have close relationships with their professors. I also saw a dog in one of the classes I visited and thought that a college where students could bring their dogs to class would be a place I would enjoy.

Why did you choose your major?
I took the standard amount of math classes before I came to Bowdoin and it had actually never crossed my mind to become a math major. Near the end of my freshman year, a friend told me that more cool people should major in math, which made me start to consider the major. I also liked how the Math Department here is full of incredibly friendly and open people. I have always felt entirely welcome and encouraged and the professors have always given me all the support I needed.

What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
I really enjoyed both my independent study in poetry with Professor Anthony Walton of the English Department and Biology Professor Patsy Dickinson's animal physiology class. My poetry has improved incredibly since working with Professor Walton, but there's also something that just tickles me about dripping serotonin on a lobster heart to see what happens.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
Professor Walton has been great about giving me honest and sometimes brutal feedback on my poetry and guiding my development in that area.

Professors Jennifer Taback and Thomas Pietraho in the Math Department have basically made me part of their family, which means a lot to me because I don't go home to Seattle very often.

I also consider Michael Schiff-Verre and Deb Puhl in the Theater and Dance Department among my best friends at Bowdoin. They were some of the first teachers I had and I am still very close to them.

Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
Because I missed taking geometry while I was studying abroad, I examined the same material in an independent study with Professor William Barker of the Math Department for two semesters with two other students. I really enjoyed the fact that we began with basic concepts such as how to define a line and in two semesters have reached the point of studying the geometry of spacetime.

I've also studied poetry with Professor Walton. I have been writing poetry since I was in fourth grade and Professor Walton has really pushed me to move beyond purely personal materials to explore broader issues.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I have been a DJ at WBOR, Bowdoin's radio station, since my first year here and a manager of the radio station since sophomore year. Currently, I'm the senior editor of the music and arts zine put out by the radio station. I also write for the zine, which publishes concert and album reviews, as well as poetry, photography, black-and-white drawing, and creative writings. Submissions can be sent directly to me at alee@bowdoin.edu.

I've also worked in the theater throughout my time at Bowdoin and have done a lot of lighting design both with the Theater and Dance Department and with Masque and Gown, Bowdoin's student theater group. I'll be lighting the department's spring show Enemy of the People this coming semester.

As one of the math department student reps, I act as a liaison between the department and students. I have had a ton of fun and have been able to help organize fun activities such as holding a pumpkin carving party for the department. I also enjoyed helping to design the Math Department t-shirts, which have been a big hit — don't worry, we'll be designing new t-shirts for this year.

Finally, I'm leading an Alternative Spring Break trip to Nicaragua in March with Alden Karr '07, during which we'll be building a house for a family there with a non-profit company called Bridges to Community. In preparation for the trip, we're leading a seminar with our participants about the importance of service.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I went to Cádiz, Spain during the fall of my junior year. I was the first Bowdoin student to study abroad there with my program, API. I really enjoyed being able to improve my Spanish skills and spend time in the city, which is the oldest city in Europe. I also enjoyed traveling around Europe and visiting friends who were studying in other countries.

What have you done during your summers?
For two years I worked as a tech at Lab/Cor, a small industrial lab in my neighborhood in Seattle. I prepared samples of air and other materials for asbestos analysis.

The summer after my sophomore year I went with art professor John Bisbee and other Bowdoin students to Bonnaroo, a music festival in Manchester, Tennessee. While there, we built sculptures in the 700 acres of campground. I really enjoyed creating art from discarded junk that provided both a clean space amidst the chaos of the campground and an interactive outlet for the concert-goers.

Last summer I earned a Surnda Fellowship, a Bowdoin scholarship that supports summer research, to work with Professor Bruce Kohorn in the Biology Department. I helped him with his research examining the function of WAK and TAK proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
Some of my best memories are from my first year here. For instance, the time my roommates and I had a nacho party with the microwave under my bed. I also enjoyed the time my first-year roommate decided to make me Indian for a night and I woke up with a bindi on.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I'm definitely going to go home to Seattle at least for the summer. I might try to work in a theater or a lab there at some point. Directly after graduation, I'm going to be hiking the 100-mile wilderness in Maine with my roommate, then driving to Tennessee to work at Bonnaroo again. After that, I'm driving back to Seattle, and my sister, who will graduate from high school, and I have tentative plans to go to Mexico for a week or so to celebrate our joint graduation.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Just remember that every person here is amazing at something and try to figure out what it is. Some people will really surprise you.

What quirky or fun thing did you wish you knew before you came to Bowdoin?
When I was a first-year at Bowdoin, access from one end of the dorm to the other was through bathroom corridors. I wish I'd known how much fun it was to hang out and talk with people while walking through the bathrooms. Alas, incoming freshmen will never experience what I'm talking about, since all the first-year dorms are being renovated.

Story posted on January 02, 2007

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