Student Profiles

Christine Carletta '10

Christine Carletta '10

Major: Government and Legal Studies; minor: Italian
Hometown: Brunswick, New York

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I graduated from a small, all-girls preparatory high school in upstate New York. I was certain that I wanted to attend a small liberal arts college in the Northeast, with a flourishing, close-knit community similar to the one that I experienced in high school, and whose student body was at least 50 percent male. With my trusty college guide book in hand, I used these very scientific criteria to narrow my options down to 200 or so schools in the New England region and applied to all of them.

Just kidding. I wish that I could tell you there is a rigid formula to calculate all your hopes for college to determine the perfect school, but there isn't. Combined with your academic desires, choosing a college is largely based on the feeling you get when you step onto campus. Bowdoin was, simply, the perfect fit for me. I knew before applying that I was looking for a college with a strong government department. Bowdoin has one of the best departments in the country both in the diversity of classes offered and the wealth of talented, committed professors. With regards to the community here, I know most of my classmates' faces and can wave wildly at many of them from across the Quad. My professors have been more than willing to sit down over a cup of tea at the café and chat about my academic and extracurricular pursuits. Did I glean all of this information from a one-hour tour of the campus? No. However, I did feel a sense of warmth and comfort immediately, a feeling that only grew as my parents and I explored the campus. When the time for a decision came, I just knew.

Why did you choose your major?
I knew before I came to Bowdoin that I wanted to be a government major with the long-term aspiration of pursuing a law degree. My pre-major advisor, Professor Paul Franco—who was also my first-year seminar professor—was so enthusiastic and supportive about my curiosity for political theory and constitutional law that my excitement for the subject never waned nor faltered.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
I can't narrow it down to one course, but I can speak to a series of courses that have built on each other and shaped my major in a unique way. My sophomore year I took Constitutional Law I and II and completed an independent study titled Great Constitutional Debates under the guidance of my major advisor, Professor Richard Morgan. Constitutional law courses challenge you to evaluate and analyze the fundamental tenets of our system of government. Professor Morgan addressed these questions in an engaging manner in all of the classes I took with him. He asks his students to formulate a strong understanding of the historical perspectives surrounding the creation and implementation of the U.S. Constitution, as well as how those perspectives affect contemporary legal questions. The questions these courses present constantly reaffirm my sentiment that I am studying exactly what I enjoy most. I am currently working with Professor Morgan on completing an honors project on the Religion Clause of the First Amendment while taking his senior seminar on the Free Speech Clause.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
As you can guess, Professor Morgan and his constitutional law courses have had a huge impact on my time here. Professor Morgan is a nationally known scholar of constitutional law; it will be an exciting year to work with him on my honors project.

Professor Arielle Saiber of the Italian department has also been a source of support and inspiration at Bowdoin; in fact, she can take credit for my Italian minor! I came to college uninterested in the study of language. My philosophy was that some people are good at and enjoy learning languages, but that I was not one of those people. As I was picking a college, I practically jumped for joy upon discovering that Bowdoin has no foreign language requirement. However, in the spring of my first year, I stumbled upon a course titled Mona Lisa and the Mafia: Italian Culture across the Centuries taught by Professor Saiber. It was taught in English, so I figured that I was safe. Wrong!

Professor Saiber is extremely engaging; who else can seamlessly tie together a course that discusses Dante's Inferno, the literary masterpiece, with Dante's Inferno, an upcoming video game from Electronics Arts? Professor Saiber encourages spirited class participation and it's hard not to oblige, as she is quite enthusiastic herself. To make a long story short, Professor Saiber noticed that I was particularly interested in Italy and Italian culture. After several persuasive conversations, a lot of espresso, and unwavering encouragement, I become an Italian minor.

Professor Sonja Moser has also been an absolute inspiration both as a director and professor throughout my Bowdoin experience. Taking her Acting I and II classes and receiving direction from her in The Skin of Our Teeth has had a distinct effect on all of my work on stage.

Christine and members of the 2007-2008 Peucinian Society.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I have participated in various extracurricular activities on campus including The Peucinian Society, Masque and Gown, Circolo Italiano, Habitat for Humanity, MacMillan House, Bowdoin Outing Club, and intramural soccer. I have also worked as a checker and line server in Moulton Dining Hall and am currently a computer lab assistant for Information Technology.

At the end of my first year, I was one of three students who revived Bowdoin's literary association, The Peucinian Society. The Peucinian Society was founded in 1805 and is one of the oldest collegiate literary societies in the United States. The Society, which counts among its alumni Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Class of 1825) and Joshua Chamberlain (Class of 1852), gathered to hold disputations on cultural and political thought. Its revival has created a unique forum on campus to discuss a wide variety of academic topics ranging from environmental sustainability to the merits of secularization. We remain true to the traditions of the original Society, holding formal orations and weekly disputations. As the provost and first female to deliver an oration in the Society's history, I have developed invaluable skills in oration, discussion, and organization. Furthermore, I have built a close group of friends with whom I can engage socially and intellectually outside of class.

Christine with Khalil LeSaldo '11, Joseph Babler '10, and Katharine Sherman '09 performing in Masque and Gown's production of The Play About the Baby by Edward Albee.

Theater has been an important extracurricular activity since I was nine years old, and I am fortunate to have been able to continue pursuing this interest at Bowdoin. I served as artistic director for Masque and Gown during my sophomore and junior years and took several acting and directing courses in the theater department. I have participated in two productions at Bowdoin so far: The Skin of Our Teeth directed by Professor Sonja Moser and The Play About the Baby directed by Cait Hylan '09. The Skin of Our Teeth was a fantastic production, though it was a daunting task to work on such a large-scale piece as a new student. Professor Moser helped me develop my skills in precision and intention of thought and movement. The Play About the Baby was a completely different and equally unique experience. That show had a four-person cast, and I played "Woman," a vaudevillian character who provides a flighty, comedic tone that couples beautifully with her more serious partner in crime, "Man." Edward Albee, the playwright who wrote the piece, spoke at Common Hour while we were working on it. It was an incredible opportunity to sit down and talk with him about the play and my character.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I studied abroad in Bologna, Italy, with Brown University. It was a great program for language study; all my courses were in Italian. Living in Bologna and studying at L'Università di Bologna required me to be far more independent then I've ever been. It reminded me just how interesting and culturally saturated of a country Italy was and simultaneously made me truly appreciate the comforts of home, family, and friends. I highly recommend studying abroad if you get the chance. It is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture and way of life.

What have you done during your summers?
I spent each of my summers pursuing a different interest of mine. The summer after my freshman year, I interned at a local children's theater company in my hometown. It was a rewarding experience to teach acting and dance in the same classes that I grew up attending.

The summer after my sophomore year I studied abroad in Vasto, Italy, through a Harvard program. My mother's grandfather emigrated from Vasto. It was an emotional experience to be the first of his descendants to return, find the shop that belonged to his family, and meet my relatives who had remained in Italy. I had my first full conversation in Italian with my grandfather's 85-year-old first cousin who still owns a hat shop in Vasto.

This past summer I worked in the Consumer Frauds Bureau of the New York State Office of the Attorney General. I worked directly with consumers and businesses to resolve consumer complaints. The experience offered a sense of some of the skills a lawyer utilizes; I found the work to be informative and stimulating. It encouraged me to consider a potential career in the public sector.

Victory! Christine and her friends from West Hall with the giant snowball in front of Osher Hall.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
There are so many wonderful memories: late-night chats with friends, taking an impromptu drive to Lands End (the beach, not L.L. Bean's rival) to watch the sunrise, drinking tea at Little Dog's, and running through the theater excitedly before a performance. But one anecdote always sticks out in my mind. There was a huge snow storm during April of my first year, and classes were completely canceled for the first time in some 30 years. With about 15 friends from West Hall, we built a massive five-foot tall snowball and rolled it in front of the entrance to Osher Hall, the nearby first-year dorm, with whom there was a friendly rivalry. It was an epic experience and a picture of the snowball ended up on

What are your plans for after graduation?
I plan on attending law school and pursuing a legal career, though I remain completely undecided on which aspect of law. There are so many interesting facets in the field of law—including constitutional studies, intellectual property, public interest, and entertainment law—that I will just have to wait and see!

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Laugh. The first year is full of experiences that are some of the most memorable and stressful moments of your life. It's easy to become overwhelmed and too focused on the tasks at hand. These are the years that help define who you are; enjoy them! Yes, you will experience a whole new level of frustration when you inadvertently turn all of your laundry pink and doll-sized at 3 a.m. while in the middle of writing your first big paper. It happened to all of us. But remember, Bowdoin is a community. You will get to know most of its members better than you ever thought possible. They are here to support you, care about you, and laugh with you. So when you only have miniature pink socks to wear to class, go show your friends and revel in the absurdity of the situation. The story just might be one you will tell for years to come.

What quirky or fun thing do you wish you had known before you came to Bowdoin?
Get out and explore Maine. The landscape is beautiful and features gems such as Acadia National Park, the Coastal Studies Center, Popham Beach, and Lands End. Apparently, there's even the Desert of Maine in Freeport. Who knew!

Story posted on November 03, 2009

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