Andrew Gachanja '06

Andrew Gachanja

Andrew Gachanja '06

Home: Tigoni, Kenya
Major: Economics and English Double Major

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I particularly liked the size and school environment. After having attended a small high school I was attracted by the promise of interaction with faculty. Additionally, I felt that a liberal arts environment was more conducive to learning given the opportunity for wide exposure to all sorts of subject matters. Bowdoin also offers generous financial aid to international students and that helped a great deal.

Why did you choose you major?
I chose English because I enjoy the academic approach, namely the effort to view a topic from numerous viewpoints without necessarily elevating one approach over the other. It calls for reasoning, logic, defense of a stated position regulated by an abiding adherence to clarity and brevity, to sum it (see what I mean?). I'm also an economics major; that has been interesting, as well. I like the economics major and particularly its overlap with the study of social issues. I have taken classes in Latin American Development and Economics of the Family, which applied economic rationale to everyday problems. I'm also taking a Finance and Law Economics course which should both prove to be useful in my future career plans.

What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
I took a first-year seminar called "The Invention of Africa" with Professor Randy Stakeman of the history department. He decided to give us a headstart in college life by introducing us to the foundations of historical analysis and criticism. This ensured that successive classes went much easier because we had done extensive reading of major theories as freshmen. Additionally, we got to watch movies and I'm always down for that! One movie was shot in colonial Kenya and I actually understood what the African characters were saying. It was hilarious because they were saying completely random, irrelevant stuff to make the movie "authentically" African and I got it. It always makes me laugh to remember the movie.

Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
Not yet, hopefully next semester I'll be able to do something on post-colonial literature and Africa. I've yet to really finesse the study but I hope to do it. I've spoken briefly with some of my English professors on the topic and we'll see how that goes.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I have worked on campus a lot, particularly in the Art Library and the Language Media Center. The staff has been simply wonderful and I have managed to spend two summers working here for them. Brunswick is unbelievably beautiful in the summertime. There are lots of interesting places for bike rides, for both the adventurous and those who like to conserve their strength (I'm one of those).

I'm also a member of the International Club, African American Society, and other student organizations. The I-Club organizes fun events and it's a great way to meet a very diverse group of individuals.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
Technically, I am studying abroad (no I did not).

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
I would say it's the kindness and support I have received from faculty, staff and friends. The Bowdoin community has some wonderful people who have gone out of their way to make my stay comfortable. It's not always easy being away from home but your support helps enormously. Often, we don't realize how the little things, like a joke, or a kind word can make all the difference especially if you're from a different cultural background and/or country. I appreciate each and every one of you, you know yourselves, my extended family at Bowdoin.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I received and accepted an offer from Banc of America Securities for a position as an Investment Banking Analyst. I plan to do that and build on the experience by either going back to school (grad school, business school or law school) or continuing in related fields. I'm mostly interested in acquiring the skills and experience I need to return to Kenya and work in the finance sector. Long-term goals involve African economic development and/or teaching. We'll see.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
I say learn, enjoy the classes and get to know your professors. It never ceases to amaze me how much talent and resources Bowdoin has. Additionally, use every opportunity you get. Bowdoin works amazingly well and that is an enormous advantage because you have all the tools you need to pursue your goals. I've never gotten over the sense of amazement, especially when I compare the Bowdoin education to that which I would have received back home in Kenya. If you are here at Bowdoin, you are privileged and it's your duty to exercise every opportunity you get. I cannot stress that enough.

Story posted on October 29, 2005

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