Caitlin Callahan '11

Caitlin Callahan

Caitlin Callahan '11

Majors: Government & Legal Studies and Economics
Minor: French
Hometown: Essex, Connecticut

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
When I started looking at schools, Bowdoin was always near the top of my list. I really liked (and still love) the friendliness of the students, the beauty of our campus, the delicious food, the demanding academics, and the welcoming swim team. I felt at home while visiting and am so glad I've had the opportunity to attend this small liberal arts school in Maine. When I meet prospective students who ask why I chose Bowdoin, I always end by saying that if I had known while applying what I know now, I definitely would have applied early decision. Bowdoin turned out to be the perfect fit for me and I couldn't be happier with my decision to attend.

Why did you choose your major?
I knew upon matriculating that I was interested in government/international relations, and I was fortunate to take Professor Allen Springer's first year seminar The Pursuit of Peace during the fall semester. That class and the other government classes I took during my first year confirmed my interest in the major.

I took an introductory economics class in high school and decided to try economics at Bowdoin, too. After taking Principles of Microeconomics with Professor Deborah DeGraff, I decided to add economics as a second major. She is an incredible teacher; she conveys economic concepts very clearly and is helpful and accessible during office hours.

Government and economics are complementary majors, and I enjoy finding and applying their many interdisciplinary connections.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
I have had great courses at Bowdoin. One course I particularly enjoyed was Middle East Politics with Professor Shelley Deane. I learned so much in that class and, by the end of the semester, felt better able to engage in conversations with others about the Middle East. The course also sparked my interest in continued study in the region. I then enrolled in Ending Civil Wars with Professor Deane and am now doing an honors project examining Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
As I outlined above, I have enjoyed Professor Deane's classes immensely and she is now my adviser for my honors project. She does an incredible job conveying a large amount of complex material in an engaging way and making sure her students truly think about the issues presented. Additionally, I have greatly enjoyed my classes with Professor Allen Springer, Professor Paul Franco, and many other members of the government department.

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The swim team cheering before a home meet. Go U Bears!

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I have been very involved in several different capacities on campus. Competing as a member of the swim team has been a defining part of my college career. My high school program was very small, so being part of a large, dedicated, and fun group of people while training and competing for Bowdoin has been a great experience. Also, I have been happy to have Brad Burnham as my coach; he sets a healthy tone for the team and is also a great mentor. I can always trust his advice and workout plans for swimming, and I truly appreciate knowing that I can walk into his office and he will take the time to talk, even though he always has other demands on his time.

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At the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

I have also been very involved in the Bowdoin College Democrats since my first year. I have enjoyed getting immersed in Maine politics, learning more about crucial political issues, and working with local, state, and national campaigns to educate students on campus. Celebrating President Barack Obama's election on November 4, 2008, with the College Democrats remains one of my favorite memories.

I have also been involved with the McKeen Center for the Common Good. I have mentored the same girl since my first year, and have loved watching her move up from elementary to middle school. In addition, I had the opportunity to organize Common Good Day, which deepened my investment in and appreciation of the McKeen Center. Finally, I have worked as a writing assistant in the Writing Project. I have enjoyed working with my peers on writing and have enjoyed getting a sampling of classes across many disciplines.

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Caitlin with her host mother in Dakar, Senegal, July 2009.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I didn't go abroad during a school year, but I did spend six weeks in Dakar, Senegal, the summer after sophomore year. I stayed with a host mother and took three classes that immersed me in Senegalese culture (my favorite was Senegalese drum and dance!). I learned how to bargain in French, navigate through Dakar, and trust myself in a foreign country.

What have you done during your summers?
The summer after my first year, I returned to Connecticut and worked in the Wesleyan University stewardship office and as an intern at the Middlesex United Way. At the United Way, I had the opportunity to research the Earned Income Tax Credit and watch how the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program could be better implemented in Middletown.

The summer after sophomore year, I spent the first half of the summer in Senegal and then worked at Wesleyan. In addition to usual office work, I researched students and professors' activities and drafted letters to donors. I found it so interesting to see what students were doing at another NESCAC school.

The summer after junior year I went to Israel for a week on a program with the Anti-Defamation League, which was an incredible experience, especially given my academic focus on the region. I then spent the rest of the summer at Bowdoin, working in the McKeen Center to organize Common Good Day. I was so happy to spend a summer in Maine and work with the wonderful people at the McKeen Center.

What is your favorite Bowdoin memory?
The whole past summer at Bowdoin is one of my favorite memories—going to Acadia with 11 friends, exploring Brunswick, trying out different beaches, and meeting new people all contributed to a wonderful summer.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I'm still trying to figure that out! I'm planning on going to graduate school eventually, but would like to work for a few years first. Right now, I'm interested in exploring opportunities in international development, public policy, or education.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Try doing at least one thing (and hopefully more) with the McKeen Center. Working for the common good is an integral part of Bowdoin; community service helps make your education at the College more meaningful and provides incredible connections to the broader community. Remain open to meeting new people throughout your time here, and you will be amazed at how your new community develops.

What quirky or fun thing do you wish you had known before you came to Bowdoin?
About twice a year around exams, Thorne Dining Hall serves fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Few things compete with freshly baked cookies that literally have chocolate dripping out of them.

Story posted on December 01, 2010

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