Anna Noucas '11

Anna Noucas

Anna Noucas '11

Major(s): Government and Legal Studies and Environmental Studies
Hometown: Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
Since my family is very tight-knit, I did not want to go far from home for college. My sister was already at Bowdoin when I started my college search, and after seeing how much she loved it, I knew I had to be at a similar type of school. I looked at all the NESCAC schools and talked to coaches about playing volleyball as well. When I came to Bowdoin there was something different from the other places I visited; there was this feeling on campus that was indescribable. I decided to matriculate because of the beautiful brick buildings, the amazing professors, and the delicious food; it certainly didn't hurt that my best friend, my sister, was here for two years with me, too.

Why did you choose your major?
In high school, I was a math and science geek. Not only were these my best subjects but they influenced what I believed I wanted to do with my life, and so upon coming to Bowdoin I planned to major in biology and attend medical school. However, I didn't get into Biology 109 my first semester; I did end up taking it later, but by then I was taking a course called Introduction to American Government. Rather than immersing myself in biology, I found myself fully engaged and excited by my government class, taught by Professor Michael Franz. As for environmental studies, I found a course with Professor DeWitt John that was cross listed in government and environmental studies called Energy, Climate and Air Quality, and realized that picking up environmental studies as a major satisfied my passion for science and caring about the world we live in.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
The Politics of Development with Professor Ericka Albaugh has influenced my education at the College. After spending my summers working with Somali immigrants from Lewiston, Maine, I found this class especially interesting and was able to connect with the topics on a personal level. I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about developing countries and how they are evolving. Professor Albaugh's readings and lectures kept me fully engaged and really made me question and wonder how countries can help themselves or how other countries can provide assistance. Our final project was to research and fully understand a development project funded by an outside organization in a developing country. While I cannot say that I found solutions to the many problems I studied, I can say that I am certainly better educated and better prepared to understand the world beyond our nation's borders.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
Professor Franz is one of the reasons I majored in government and legal studies. Normally, one might expect an introductory class would be boring; however, thanks to Professor Franz, Introduction to American Government was far from boring. His passion for the subject truly inspired me, and he kept our class engaged by turning our class into a mock Senate. Not only did we study the logistics of the government that keeps our country thriving from day to day, but he also immersed us into the crazy and trying process of how the legislative branch functions.

One of my favorite things about Professor John is the way he taught us to teach ourselves. He makes sure that students learn from each other by engaging the entire class in discussions, creating a learning environment that I have not experienced elsewhere. If for some reason we were confused by a topic, he would step in and teach us by creating charts and boxes for everything. There is not a reading, event, or story that cannot be categorized in a table or chart by Professor John.

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Anna competing on the women's volleyball team.

Which staff members have you connected with most?
My volleyball coach, Karen Corey, is one of the main reasons that I came to Bowdoin. Not only does she have an amazing knowledge of the game, but she also cares deeply about each of her players. She makes our team feel like a family and in some ways, especially during the offseason, has become my "mom away from home." She has been more than willing to open up her home to me and has certainly been there to give me advice whenever I need it.

My strength and conditioning coach, Jim St. Pierre, is one of the most caring people I have met. However, this caring does not always come across in the most loving way, seeing as he is the one who makes me run sprints and lift weights. Regardless, this man has played a large role in making me the athlete that I have become today. He has certainly become someone that I can vent to or turn to at any moment for advice.

Finally, the third is Patty, who swipes meal cards at Moulton Union Dining Hall. The friendly smile and bear hug that I get from Patty every day at lunch really makes my day a hundred times better. That you can build close relationships with staff members is one of the best parts of being at a small school—I feel so lucky to have gotten to know her.

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Anna performing during Orientation at "Speak About It."

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
For the last four years I have been a member of the women's volleyball team, and this year I am a co-captain. Although volleyball takes up much of my time, I do find time for other activities. I'm a member of V-Space, a group that facilitates discussions with women's athletic teams about sexual assault and violence; Out Allies, a group for straight students who support the LGBTQ community; "Speak About It," a show produced for first years during Orientation that examines the realities of sexual encounters at Bowdoin; The UnDiscussed, a dialogue-based group that promotes discussion of topics that Bowdoin students would not bring up in normal conversation; and most recently, Green Global Initiatives, a group of students working to bring professionals to Bowdoin to discuss sustainability and environmental issues, and how these issues relate to their jobs.

What have you done during your summers?
For the past two summers, I worked as the activities coordinator for Upward Bound at Bowdoin. Upward Bound is a federally funded TRiO program through the Department of Education that helps send low-income and first-generation students to college. My job was to make sure that the students had fun in their six weeks with us, and that included taking them to Portland Sea Dogs games, Funtown/Splashtown in Saco, Maine, and Boston for an IMAX viewing of the newest Star Trek movie. While these summers were fun, they were also challenging—I learned a lot about myself and a lot about the students.

Through Upward Bound, I met some of the most amazing people and worked closely with a group of Somali immigrants from Lewiston. Hearing about where they came from and how hard they worked changed my outlook on life. I hope to keep in touch with many of these people to hear about how they have grown up, gone to college, and become amazing individuals.

What is your favorite Bowdoin memory?
It was my birthday on October 4, 2007, and I had only been at Bowdoin for little more than a month. I had become good friends with girls on the volleyball team, but I also found a smaller group of friends. Some of these girls lived in my dorm, some were the roommates of other people I had met, and others just happened to find their way into our group somehow. It was a Thursday night, and I was not really expecting to do anything. My friends would be going out, and I had a volleyball match the next day so I was staying in. However, I still had planned hang out with them before they left. As the night went on, no one was answering my text messages or phone calls. It was my birthday, and to be honest, I felt a little bit lonely. So finally, I decided to go upstairs to the room where we all normally hung out and knocked on the door. Everyone inside suddenly got quiet, and then one of my friends answered the door and said, "Come on in to your surprise birthday party, Anna!" My friends all turned around and yelled "Surprise!" I walked in to discover that the room had been decorated in a Disney princess theme. I realized that night that after just over a month of school, I had met some of the best friends I would have at Bowdoin.

What are your plans for after graduation?
My plans for after graduation are unclear at this point. However, I would love to live in Washington, D.C. I have always loved the city and being a government and environmental studies major, there are many different options for me down there. Ideally, I would love to work on Capitol Hill, though I am also considering applying for positions in environmental nonprofits based there.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Bowdoin is a liberal arts school for a reason. Don't think that after your first year you need to know what you want to do for the rest of your life or even what you want to major in. Give yourself time to find your passion. There is a reason that the College does not require students to declare a major until the end of sophomore year. Take advantage of your first year and a half to explore, because if you have not found what you want to study, then I guarantee the College has something among its wide array of classes that will spark your interest.

What quirky or fun thing do you wish you had known before you came to Bowdoin?
There are two things I wish I had known before matriculating and both involve food. The first is that I wish I had known how amazing Bowdoin's granola is! The granola here is homemade and I did not realize the "amazingness" of this granola until Dawn, one of the Bowdoin chefs that we had at Upward Bound in the summer, made granola for us. After my first summer, I ate granola as much as possible in the dining halls. Second, I wish I had known that cereal was the best dessert ever. Having cereal at the end of any meal is a cool thing to do at Bowdoin and it is a requirement on the volleyball team, especially when we are in season and have every dinner together. I was not a big cereal person before Bowdoin, but once I saw the array of cereals in the dining halls, I fell in love with it.

Story posted on October 17, 2010

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