Astrid Rodriguez '07
Astrid Rodriguez '07
Hometown: Leominster, Massachusetts
Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I was initially attracted to Bowdoin because I wanted to get out of Massachusetts without leaving New England completely. I also liked Bowdoin's small size because I wanted to go to a college that was smaller than my high school, which had about 2,000 students. When I arrived at Bowdoin, I instantly fell in love with the cozy and intimate atmosphere and with the ocean air that makes its way on campus. I remember sitting with my dad in a window seat in the admissions office and just feeling very comfortable and at home.
Why did you choose your major and minor?
I took Marine Environmental Geology my first semester at Bowdoin. I struggled with the material in the beginning and didn't do very well on the midterm. I was completely heartbroken because I had never had this much difficulty with a subject in my entire life. I met with my professor and then went back to my dorm and rewrote the test. When I read the material and learned everything all over again, I was blown away by how interested I was in the subject! This triumph kept me coming back and taking more Geology courses.
I chose to minor in Theater because it is one of the only pursuits in my life that makes me feel as if I have created something that will actually impact people. Theater is such a great medium to make people think, laugh, and cry. I have always wanted to learn more about the more detailed and creative aspects of drama, so I decided to pursue directing, playwriting, and stage craft classes, which lead me to the Theater minor.
What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
My favorite course was Sculpture I with art professor John Bisbee, which I took during my first semester at Bowdoin. The class made me look at everyday objects differently. Masking tape was never the same for me after he covered an entire room with it, floor to ceiling. There were caves, "trees," balls, webs, all made of masking tape. It was incredible to make something so elaborate with your hands. It was a great break from the reading and writing of my other classes, although, ironically, the workload was much more time consuming. But when in your life do you get to build a tower out of newspaper or make a 3-D sculpture of an iron?
What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
Because the Geology department is very intimate at Bowdoin, I have gotten to know my advisor Rachel Beane very well. Knowing a woman who is so successful in a field dominated by men helps erase the stereotype that lives even in my own head. It is almost a reflex to think of men when thinking about the sciences. Her passion and knowledge of the subject gives me the strength and courage to pursue Geology.
I am also in awe of Professor Sonja Moser, who is teaching my directing class this semester. She has directed such phenomenal shows at Bowdoin and is always extremely excited about theater. I am the type of person who gets super excited about things, so I love having a professor who shares my own excitement. I am looking forward to working with her throughout this semester.
Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
I started my honors project this past summer. I am studying the microstructure of a Martian meteorite with my advisor, Rachel Beane. It has been a great learning experience working with the EBSD, the electron backscatter diffraction system that allows you to see the bands that make up the internal structure of minerals. I went to my first conference this summer, which was sponsored by the Maine Space Grant Consortium, and I am now preparing for the Annual GSA conference in Philadelphia. I am very excited for a weekend of meeting hundreds of geologists. I have never been in a room with more than two-dozen geologists, so I can't even fathom what this will be like!
What work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I have worked for Dining Service at Thorne Hall throughout my Bowdoin career. It has been so much fun helping make the food that has earned Bowdoin the #1 Best Campus Food ranking in the Princeton Review. I work in the bakeshop. Although this requires me to wake up for my shift at 6:00 in the morning, I love walking into the room full of the smell of fresh baked bread and muffins. Also, the smiling faces of my bosses are so invigorating in the morning.
What extracurricular experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I spent my freshman and sophomore year on the Women's Rugby Team. Although I am not an aggressive or competitive person, I enjoyed being part of such a united team. Having a family like that helped me survive my first years here. We went to England for spring break and actually played against college teams there—in England!
Sophomore year, I was involved in LASO, the Latin American Student Organization. For a spring break trip, we went to Chile and did community service. I worked at a center for schizophrenic adults. I had always thought that schizophrenia was scary, but spending time with these adults who were gracefully recovering from their illness gave me such strength and made me appreciate all that I have in life. I have also explored volunteering opportunities on the Bowdoin campus by mentoring fifth grade students at a nearby elementary school. I mentored a girl at Bowdoinham Elementary School and a boy at Bowdoin Central. These kids help me as much as I help them because it feels great to see their eyes light up when you arrive. There's no chance that you would skip out on your weekly visits because the kids are so full of life and energy that you are instantly rejuvenated.
Last semester I joined the Unity, Bowdoin's step team to satisfy my craving to perform. It is very satisfying to step out your problems and challenge yourself to create beats with your own body. I have also been involved in theater since freshman year. I have stage managed and acted in small plays. I am currently production manager of Proof, Masque and Gown's fall show. It is a huge undertaking, since we only have a month to produce the entire show.
Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
For my study abroad experience I wanted to explore a new culture but [chose not] to learn about life in another country. Instead, I chose to delve into the life of a sailor. I wanted to live life in the ocean, so I participated in Woods Hole's Sea Education Association (SEA). The program takes place in Woods Hole in Cape Cod. The first six weeks are spent on shore learning the theories of sailing and plotting navigation and the basics of oceanography and maritime studies. Then, we climbed aboard the Corwith Cramer, our 134-foot schooner, and gave our lives to the sea for the next six weeks. We went from struggling to tie a basic bowline knot to being the engineers, stewards, scientists, and captains of the ship. While on the ship we also conducted our own scientific research project and collected data along the way.
Our cruise track traveled from Woods Hole to St. Croix in the Caribbean. We spent three-and-a-half weeks without seeing any sign of land. It was incredible to grow so close to a group of 31 people. You learn who has the smelly feet, who is grumpy when you wake them up, whom to trust, and whom to go to for a laugh. You learn to live without cell phones, music, and computers. You even learn not to shower daily and not to care about your appearance. It is such a refreshing way to live. Your only worry is to keep everyone on the ship safe. And the beauty about that is that everyone else has the same priority.
What have you done during your summers?
I have spent all three summers doing research. The summer after my freshman year, I lived at the University of Toledo in Ohio doing water quality research for a non-profit organization entitled Duck and Otter Creek. Ohio, although extremely flat, is beautiful. My last two summers have been spent at Bowdoin working for the Geology department. Two summers ago, I filled in the gaps for a graduate's honors project on the volcanism on Maine's coast. Last summer, I finally was able to work on my own research on a Martian meteorite.
What is your best Bowdoin memory?
There are so many moments that are making me smile right now: jumping into the ocean while snow is on the ground, concerts on the quad, watching the sunrise from the 16th floor of Coles Tower, running across the quad in the rain, and learning how to ice skate on the quad during the winter.
One moment from the first few weeks of Bowdoin comes to mind as the moment when I realized that Bowdoin would change me completely. It was 12:30 a.m. and I had finally finished my first paper. A guy from my proctor group knocked on my door and invited me to come climb a tree. I obviously said yes and went out to the middle of the quad and climbed a tree. We stayed up there for a while and just talked. It was so peaceful being up there and for that one moment not having to worry about anything. I'm in Maine, I'm young, and right now I'm up in a tree!
What are your plans for after graduation?
Although I plan to attend graduate school for Geology, I want to take a few years off to either conduct research or teach sixth grade earth science.
What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
It is so easy to become overwhelmed by all of the opportunities that Bowdoin, or college in general, has to offer. My advice: Find something that makes you so excited that you beam endlessly and start jumping up and down. You don't even need to be good at whatever this passion is. Simply find something that makes you glow.
What quirky or fun thing do you wish you'd known before you came to Bowdoin?
I wish that I knew how to sleep. This seems ridiculous, because sleep is such a natural activity. But with homework, an early work-study job, rehearsals, and a social life, it is difficult to find time to sleep normally and it is difficult to even fall asleep and stay asleep!
Story posted on October 02, 2006
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