Student Profiles

Bryce Spalding '10

Bryce Spalding

Bryce Spalding '10

Majors: Government and Legal Studies, German; Minor: Teaching
Hometown: Wayne, Maine

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
At the beginning of my college search, I didn't think there was any way I would stay in Maine for school. However, in my search for a small liberal arts college with a strong government department, Bowdoin quickly made its way onto my shortlist. What stood out during my visit was how friendly, helpful, and down to earth the students were. The Bowdoin students I spoke to made it clear that they loved the College and were excited to be at such a wonderful place. Additionally, I subscribed to the view of many here that a complete education cannot be received exclusively in the classroom: extracurriculars, sports, summer internships, and studying abroad are all important, too. The fact that the food at Bowdoin was (and is) ranked first in the nation [by The Princeton Review] also didn't hurt.

Why did you choose your majors?
From the very beginning, I planned to major in government with a concentration in American government. I have always been interested in politics and America's political system, and that interest only grew during my time at the College.

After studying German in high school, I didn't want to continue with it, but due to a desire to study abroad in Germany (and some encouragement from professors), I ended up testing the waters during my first year by taking an intermediate German course. Now I'm glad to have continued with it; I had an amazing semester in Freiburg, Germany, and the German professors are outstanding.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
In the spring of my first year, I took another first-year seminar titled Memoirs and Memories of American History with Professor Connie Chiang. The course addressed the use of human memory in creating an accurate account of history. Incredibly, I was one of only two students in the class, which allowed Professor Chiang to conduct several classes in the Café. What truly made this course memorable, though, was the culminating family-history project. My paper centered on my grandmother's stay in a tuberculosis sanatorium (to prevent her from getting tuberculosis) and how her experience compared with the thousands of others who stayed in similar institutions. I learned quite a bit about my family's history and acquired new insights into my grandmother's past.

A second memorable class was American Political Thought with Professor Jean Yarbrough of the government department. I had never read the Federalist Papers, or anything by the Anti-Federalists, Jefferson, or Lincoln, and this course examined all of these authors within the context of how their philosophies shaped American politics and government. Having edited a book with Jefferson's writings, Professor Yarbrough was extraordinarily knowledgeable of the subject and her passion translated into engaging class discussions.

A third set of courses I enjoyed were my education classes. While the education professors are excellent and I found each course extremely interesting, what made these courses especially worthwhile was the time I spent in schools observing, interacting with, and teaching students. The course Educating All Students placed me into a fourth-grade class for a semester where I helped students with class work and played with them during recess. In my course Teaching and Curriculum, I observed an AP American Government course, where I taught several classes on the executive branch. Additionally, our class visited an island school off the Maine coast to see firsthand how an expeditionary-style curriculum is implemented. All of these experiences were integrated into my Bowdoin coursework, making them all the more meaningful.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
I visited one of Professor Henry Laurence's classes during a spring Open House for admitted students, and was impressed by his ability to balance lecturing with discussion in a class of 35 students. Since then, I've taken two classes with him: one was my first-year seminar, East Asian Politics, and the other was Introduction to Comparative Politics. His stories, frequent movie quotes, and many jokes made his classes enjoyable. At the same time, his emphasis on clear, concise writing and critical thinking set the foundation for my academic studies at Bowdoin.

Another incredible professor is Professor Chuck Dorn of the education department. As a sophomore, I took his course Contemporary American Education, and it's because of that course that I decided to minor in teaching and work in education after graduating. I later had Chuck again for the course Curriculum last fall. His passion for teaching is obvious, and he is always available and willing to talk with students; I'm quite fortunate to have taken two courses with him.

Which staff members have you connected with most?
I am constantly amazed by Bowdoin's staff. Every staff member I know clearly cares about students and enjoys working with us on a daily basis. This is true whether they work for Residential Life, Dining Service, or Security. While serving as a proctor sophomore year, I became closest with the staff in the ResLife office. I also have enjoyed working for Bridget Spaeth and Carmen Greenlee in the Language Media Center. Outside of my work experiences, I can always count on a hello from Anne whenever I get an express meal at Moulton Union.

The proctors and RA's affiliated with Osher Hall at a ResLife dinner in Main Lounge on campus.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
As I mentioned, I worked as a proctor my sophomore year. I really enjoyed living on the fourth floor of Osher Hall with 16 first-year students, though my proctees could be a handful at times. I also joined the men's rugby team that year, which was a lot of fun thanks to the great group of guys on the team; unfortunately, I hurt my back in the spring and wasn't able to continue playing. I also worked at the Language Media Center for three years.

My main extracurricular activity was Bowdoin Student Government (BSG). I was a class representative to BSG my first three years. During that time I worked with other class officers to put on class events and served on the facilities subcommittee and academic affairs subcommittee. Perhaps one of the most rewarding things I did in those years was to run a raffle that raised enough money to get multiple families presents for Christmas. This past year I served as vice president for academic affairs, which meant being the main student voice on academic issues. It is my hope that because of our work, next year there will be a Student Symposium where students can present on subjects such as their senior theses, study abroad experiences, or Alternative Spring Break trips.

Finally, I joined Bear Buddies last fall, a group that meets on Saturdays for various activities with children who have physical and mental disabilities. It has been a really fun group to be a part of and it's too bad that I didn't get involved sooner.

Bryce in Santorini, Greece, traveling while studying abroad in Freiburg, Germany.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I studied abroad my junior spring in Freiburg, Germany. Freiburg is a city of about 215,000, which, while not large, was far bigger than either Wayne (1,100) or Brunswick (21,000). The city is in Southwest Germany, close to the border of France and Switzerland. The location was ideal: I was able to look out my room window and see the Black Forest, allowing me to hike on the many well-groomed trails that transverse the city. The IES Freiburg program brought me on day trips to France for wine tasting, to the EU Parliament building, and on a sledding trip in the Swiss Alps. I greatly improved my German while in Freiburg and traveled throughout Europe. While another trip to Europe doesn't seem likely anytime soon, I am already thinking about where I will go, and Freiburg is definitely at the top of my list.

What have you done during your summers?
After my first year at Bowdoin, I worked as a waiter at Cloud Nine Restaurant at the Senator Inn in Augusta. However, the highlight of that summer was a two-week trip to Germany that was funded, in large part, by an award received through the German department. I spent the first week in Berlin and the second week at the Munich Summer Fellows Program. The program is sponsored by Junior Year in Munich, which encourages students to study abroad in Germany and introduces them to Munich and its surroundings. While the experience didn't persuade me to study in Munich, any doubts in my mind about studying abroad in Germany vanished after the trip.

My second summer I worked as a Margaret Chase Smith intern in the Maine Department of Transportation Safety Office (MDOT). Over the course of the summer I produced sections of the MDOT Policies and Procedures Safety Manual, and created safety reports and an interoffice database. It was very interesting to see how a government department runs from within, and I learned a lot from my time there, including the fact that in order for a job to be rewarding, I need to be challenged and have high expectations.

Last summer I returned home from Germany at the end of July and thus was only home for part of August. I spent that time preparing for the upcoming school year as well as seeing friends and family that I hadn't seen since leaving for Germany.

What is your favorite Bowdoin memory?
It is nearly impossible to spend four years at Bowdoin and have just one favorite memory; nevertheless, here are two of them. The first was during my junior fall when I was a MacMillan House member. It was the Sunday morning of reading period, and all the house members made crepes with tons of different fillings before crowding around the Christmas tree in our living room and exchanging Secret Santa gifts. Despite the fact that many of us had only met in late August, it felt remarkably like Christmas morning with family.

Bryce with his mother and friends, visiting his house in Wayne.

There were also two memorable trips at the beginning of senior year when I brought friends from Bowdoin to my home in Wayne, which is about an hour north of Brunswick. During the first visit I showed some friends my elementary school and where I used to work at the recreation center and library. We went swimming at a beach near my house, had dinner with my parents, and went to a delicious ice cream place called Tubby's. The second time was in late September, and I was with nine of my housemates. We weren't expecting to swim, but many of us braved the cool waters. This was the first time I had gone swimming after the leaves had changed color and doing it with many of my closest friends made it even more enjoyable.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I hope to find a job in education either as a teacher, tutor, or mentor. So I'm looking at both jobs in independent schools as a teacher and at more service-oriented positions in either charter schools or schools in high-need areas. I plan on attending graduate school at some point, though I'm uncertain if I will want to get a master's in education or public policy, or a law degree. My long-term goal, however, is to be involved in educational policy development.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Take advantage of the many opportunities that Bowdoin offers. Every week there are lectures, talks, performances, plays, and film screenings. Make the effort to experience these events each week, because it's unlikely that you will have the opportunity to attend so many fabulous and free events after graduating.

What quirky or fun thing do you wish you had known before you came to Bowdoin?
Bowdoin Student Government runs a course review website that is only visible to Bowdoin students. The website allows you to see what other students think about various courses and professors, as well as share your own thoughts after you have completed a course. While students are objective and honest in the majority of the views, it is important to understand the reasons why an individual may or may not like a particular course.

Story posted on August 09, 2010

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