Student Profiles

Clark Gascoigne '08

Clark Gascoigne

Clark Gascoigne '08

Hometown: Moreland Hills, Ohio
Major: Government and Legal Studies; Minor: Theater

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I really wanted to go to a school where I wasn't going to be just a number — a school that was small enough so that I could interact with professors both inside and outside of the classroom. Additionally I wanted to get far away from home, so I was attracted to a number of small New England colleges. At the time, the really strong Environmental Studies Program and the Coastal Studies Center really distinguished Bowdoin in my mind from the other New England schools that I was looking at. Additionally, I was really impressed by the feel of the school when I visited. Everyone seemed very happy, and the campus was modestly beautiful and very cozy. So there were a number of reasons, both academic and personal, that made me choose to come to Bowdoin.

Why did you choose your major?
I actually came to Bowdoin convinced that I was going to be an environmental studies coordinate major. However, after exploring a number of classes my first and second year, I realized that my real passion was in the government department. For a while I thought that I would continue with both majors. Nevertheless, I eventually realized that there were too many government courses that I wanted to take, and I ended up as just a government major.

My love for the government department also was spurred by my extracurricular involvement with politics. During the fall of my first year I became actively involved in the College Democrats due to the energy surrounding the 2004 election. Since then I have actively pursued my passions for both politics and governance both inside and outside of the classroom.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
I'm currently taking a class in Constitutional Law, with Professor Richard Morgan, that I absolutely love. We discuss the ramifications of the decisions made by the Supreme Court since the founding of our country all the way up until present day. It's absolutely fascinating to see how United States policies have evolved over time based solely on the constitutional interpretations of the Court. The course has revolutionized the way I think about governance in our society.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
Paul Franco in the government department really inspired me to study political theory when I took his course Classical Political Philosophy. We looked at writers such as Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, and Augustine, and we contemplated the meaning of virtue, justice, and the best practical regime. Professor Franco's overwhelming enthusiasm for the subject was contagious, and I absolutely loved it. I would walk with him after class, contining our discussions of political theory all the way back to his office on the other side of the Quad — it was outstanding.

Davis Robinson in the theater department has been a mentor of mine ever since my first semester at Bowdoin when he cast me in his production of Angels in America. Since then I've taken classes in Physical Theater, Comedy, and Shakespeare with him, as well as acted in his production of An Enemy of the People last year. He has really challenged me as both an artist and as a person. I'm looking forward to working with him on an independent study in the spring semester.

Sonja Moser in the theater department is another person who has had a profound impact on my academic life. She's the first person who expanded my love for the theater from just acting to also include directing when I took Directing with her during the fall of my sophomore year. She's been a priceless advisor on a lot of my theatrical endeavors throughout my Bowdoin career.

Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
I'm planning on producing and directing a full-length play as an independent study this spring. Right now I'm looking into works by Tom Stoppard, and I'm seriously considering Arcadia. During my sophomore year I took Directing, culminating in the direction of a short one-act play as my final project. During my junior year I directed Proof, a full-length play by David Auburn through Masque and Gown, the student theater organization on campus. Now, I'm really excited to sit down and delve into the meaning behind a play in a way that I've never been able to before.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I've been actively involved in the Bowdoin College Democrats on campus ever since the fall of my first year due to a lot of the excitement surrounding the Kerry/Bush election. I can remember knocking on doors in the freezing rain on election day that year, only to end up losing the election and coming down with a really bad chest cold in the following days. However, that didn't discourage me, and I've remained very involved in the College Democrats over the four years since then.

My involvement with the College Democrats has given me a lot of priceless experiences. For example, in the fall of my first year I had the opportunity to organize a speech at Bowdoin by Congressman Dennis Kucinich; during my sophomore year I was actively involved in organizing the Maine College Democrats Convention featuring Al Franken; during my junior year I was given the opportunity of running the get-out-the-vote operation on campus — driving roughly 450 Bowdoin students to the polls on election day and helping reelect a Democratic governor; this year I was granted the opportunity of leading the College Democrats on campus.

Additionally, I've had the opportunity to meet other College Democrats from across the state of Maine and the country. For a number of years I served on the executive board of the Maine College Democrats, providing guidance and support for all College Democrat chapters across Maine. This past year I was able to challenge myself even further by serving on the College Democrats of America (CDA) National New Media Team, eventually leading to my current position as the National New Media Director for CDA.

My extracurricular life is not all political however. During my first semester at Bowdoin I was cast in the Department of Theater's production of Angels in America. I've continued with my involvement in the theater, acting in productions of The Laramie Project, An Enemy of the People, and Shakespeare's Villains, as well as in the Masque and Gown One-Act Play Fesitival and the Directing Projects. I also worked the lights for the production of The Real Inspector Hound my sophomore year and directed the production of Proof during my junior year.

Additionally, I've been actively involved in the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), serving as a class representative to the BSG during my junior year and as an at-large representative for the current year. Participating in the student government has really allowed me to get to know the inner workings of the school in ways that I otherwise wouldn't have. It also has allowed me to take part in the governance of a place that I love very deeply.

Finally, I've been very active in Bowdoin Students for Peace ever since my best friend, Sara Schlotterbeck, co-founded the organization during the spring of my first year.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I did not study abroad during my time at Bowdoin because I enjoyed being at Bowdoin so much that I didn't want to miss out on any of it. However, I really appreciate the value of spending a prolonged period of time in another country, and I plan on living and working abroad for at least a year after I graduate.

What have you done during your summers?
In the summer after my first year, I returned home to Ohio and worked on a city council campaign in Cleveland. I really enjoyed expanding upon the political experience I gained with the College Democrats by engaging in the governance of my hometown.

The summer after my sophomore year I spent traveling through Turkey, Greece, and Croatia with my family. While it didn't allow me to pursue many of my other interests for the summer, such as politics or theater, the time I spent abroad with my family was invaluable. In fact, my grandfather has always told me that the best education anyone can receive is through travel.

This past summer I spent working in Washington, D.C., at the Democratic National Committee. I focused on their youth outreach and College Democrats-related activities, writing press releases, updating the campus organizing manual, and organizing the national convention in Columbia, S.C. My time in D.C. was priceless; while I worked a lot of long hours, I met some amazing people and participated in some pretty incredible endeavors.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
I can never forget the time during December finals my junior year when my roommate Dustin Brooks and I both pulled two back-to-back all-nighters together. I remember feeling as though I was living in the twilight zone.

Also, I'll always think fondly of the many times that I have sat around working on jigsaw puzzles in my common room with my roommates Beth French and Hannah Scheidt.

I'll also never forget editing the College Democrats' "Treadmill" video advertisement that I made with my friends Frank Chi, Dotan Johnson, and William Donahoe. I remember how we all erupted with excitement when we watched the ad for the first time in the Bowdoin Cable Network studio, and how our friend, Dana Borowitz, thought we all were crazy.

Additionally, I'll never forget shopping for dance apparel with Phil Gates as we prepared for our Suzuki acting class during our sophomore year. We both looked absolutely ridiculous — it was amazing.

Most of all, I'll never forget the many nights I've spent cuddled up with my best friend, Sara Schlotterbeck, doing homework and drinking tea. Some of the best moments are those that you take for granted while they're happening.

What are your plans for after graduation?
Immediately after graduation I plan on either working on a political campaign or for a social advocacy group through the 2008 elections. Then I want to take a year and work abroad in a developing country, possibly teaching English or doing volunteer work. When I return, I plan on settling down at either a social advocacy organization or going into public broadcasting — although that's still a long way down the road. Dighton Spooner in the Career Planning Center has been priceless in helping me figure out what I want to do.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
While the academic aspects of Bowdoin are extremely engaging and fulfilling, my advice to a prospective or first-year student is to branch out and involve yourself in the many extracurricular opportunities offered by the college. The fondest memories I have at Bowdoin are the result of extracurricular activities or are with people that I met through them.

What quirky or fun thing did you wish you knew before you came to Bowdoin?
The dining hall is open for Supersnack between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, and it's amazing!

Story posted on November 26, 2007

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