Student Profiles

Courtney Martin '09

Courtney Martin '09

Courtney Martin '09

Major: Gender and Women Studies
Hometown: Hermon, Maine

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
When I first started looking at colleges, I always felt like most people knew right away which college they wanted to go to. It just "fit." I knew I liked the small liberal arts schools and wanted to stay in the New England area, but I was pretty certain I wanted to leave Maine, so initially Bowdoin was not even on my college list. Yet, after visiting what seemed like a billion colleges, there wasn't really one school that jumped out at me. I couldn't seem to find the school that fit me. Bowdoin came on my radar later during my senior year. I was sent some information by Coach Peter Slovenski, Bowdoin's cross country and track and field coach, about running for Bowdoin, and I knew I definitely wanted to keep running in college.

Cross country team

I remembered visiting Bowdoin once during my sophomore year when my older sister was looking at colleges but did not remember too much about the actual campus or the academic environment. However, after talking more to Coach Slovenski, I decided to apply.

After I was accepted, I came to visit on one of the admitted-student days and realized that staying in Maine was not such a bad idea. The campus was bustling, the food was delicious and the academic reputation particularly strong. After meeting with some of the members of the women's cross country team, I realized it wasn't necessarily the location but more the people and the community that were important to me.

I decided that the Bowdoin community was unique: when people walked by they smiled and genuinely wanted to interact with visitors. I knew that the "physical" college experience may only be four years but that being part of a college community would last long beyond that. I decided that Bowdoin fostered the type of community that I wanted to be a part of even after my actual college days.

Why did you choose you major?
Although I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the sciences, I took a lot of science classes my freshman and sophomore years and found myself longing to take a more diverse schedule. Surprisingly enough, I actually really wanted to write papers! I had always been interested in gender, especially as a lens through which many different subjects can be examined. After enrolling in Gender and Women's Studies 101 my sophomore fall, I was inspired to diversify my spring schedule, which unintentionally included two women studies courses: Black Women's Literature with Professor Guy Mark Foster and Women in American History with Professor Sarah McMahon. While I was just looking for two interesting non-science classes, I was inadvertently drawn to gender oriented classes. Thus, I fell into the gender and women's studies major rather unexpectedly but have enjoyed it immensely.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
Probably a class where just hearing the name draws you in: Sex and Socialism. I took this class with Professor Ghodsee in the gender and women's studies department my junior spring. The class focused on the gendered foundations of socialism. It challenged me to think beyond previously engrained ideas about socialism, communism and capitalism. Although not a small seminar, the class was particularly enjoyable because each session was full of thought-provoking questions and stimulating discussion. Although we had a syllabus, each class session did not just simply progress in a linear fashion, but was built upon and altered by new class discussions each day. I would have to say this class captured the essence of a liberal arts education and what I have loved so much about Bowdoin.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
I think I have been most inspired by Professor Knox-Voina from the Russian department. I took a gender and women's studies course with her my junior fall entitled Central Asia through Film and Literature. I decided to take this class because I really knew nothing about Central Asia. What is really inspiring about her is how passionate she is about Central Asia and more specifically Central Asian film. When we would come in one evening a week to watch films, Professor Jane Knox-Voina would come in and watch with us, pointing out aspects of the film I would have never thought to key in on. After this class, I was inspired to pursue an independent study with her in the fall of my senior year. I looked at how many of today's Central Asian film directors identify a sense of nostalgia for the traditional individual family, emphasizing the strength and significance of their female heroines as the center and crutch of the pre-Soviet family unit. Professor Knox-Voina inspired me to study and become passionate about a subject that I do not think I would have ever come across otherwise. A Bowdoin education is truly unique in fostering these types of one-on-one relationships with professors, offering diverse learning experiences in a wide array of subjects.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?

Athletics at Bowdoin have been a very large part of my experience. I was a member of the women's cross country running team all four years and was elected a co-captain for the fall 2008 season.

Nordic ski team

I also have been a member of the Nordic ski team as well as the women's outdoor track and field team.

Since my sophomore year I have also worked as a reunion weekend ambassador, which is the weekend following graduation each May. I have had a great time working this event every year. Not only is the campus particularly beautiful, it is a wonderful way to meet Bowdoin alumni. It is incredibly special to hear the history of Bowdoin from those who actually experienced it, not to mention all of the little known facts these alumni have to share. I have also been part of the Q-Skills program as a tutor for math and science.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I am probably one of the few from my class that actually did not study abroad. It came down to a couple of things for me. First, I did not know which sports season to give up, cross country or Nordic skiing, because I couldn't imagine missing a season; my involvement and experience on both these teams has been so special. Second, although everyone I know who went abroad had an amazing experience, Bowdoin is only four short years, and I decided I wanted to be on campus for the entirety of that time. I definitely plan on going abroad for an extended period of time, hopefully in the near future, but I am happy I decided to spend all eight semesters at Bowdoin.

What have you done during your summers?
The summer after my freshmen year I worked for Sombrero Ranches in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo.

Martin, right, at Sombrero Ranches in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo.

I had never been out west before, and I had no connections but just applied on a whim. It was one of the best things I ever did. I lived in the park at the stable for three months and led horseback rides tours all over the park. The scenery was beautiful and the people were great.

After my sophomore year, I had an internship at Dahl Chase Pathology Laboratory in Bangor, Maine. It was a great introduction to human medicine and a hospital type atmosphere. I worked with several other interns, two of which were Bowdoin students. As interns we attended lectures given by the pathologists, while also helping them with small research projects. This past summer I worked for FoxCroft Veterinary Services in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, as an assistant to Dr. Ruksznis, a large animal veterinarian. I traveled with him on the road several times a week to treat mostly horses and cows. Particularly, we visited the Bangor Raceway frequently to work with standard-bred race horses. I also worked for the gender and women's studies department from home doing small research assignments.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
Wow, this is a really hard question! I think one my first and best Bowdoin memories involves the cross country camping trip my freshmen year, even though this memory doesn't actually take place on campus.

Camping at Camden Hills State Park.

Both my freshman and junior year cross country seasons opened with a trip to Camden Hills State Park the first weekend back at school. After running in the park during the day, we would swim and barbeque at a local lake and then hike up to the top of Camden hill to camp out for the night.

The night involved a mix of campfire songs, skits and marshmallow roasting. However, the best moment was waking up in the morning, crawling out of your sleeping bag, and everyone huddling together to look out over the water at the sun rising. Following this, on the way home, we would stop at Moody's Dinner in Waldoboro and eat the most amazing homemade pie for breakfast. All around, this trip is one of my favorite Bowdoin memories.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I am planning on applying to veterinary schools to hopefully matriculate in 2010. After graduation, I will be continuing my work with Dr. Ruksznis for a year to acquire the many experience hours necessary to apply.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Don't be afraid to try new things! Bowdoin is a great place to do this because it is such a supportive environment and offers such an array of amazing opportunities. Although you may come in with a preconceived idea about what your major will be or what groups or clubs you will be involved in, allow yourself to be surprised and take advantage of the many unexpected opportunities that arise.

What quirky or fun thing did you wish you know before you came do Bowdoin?
Everyone knows the reputation of Bowdoin's food, but what I didn't know was how many hours students spend in the dinning hall during one meal! Especially when you are on a sports team and you head over to Thorne or Moulton after practice. Literally, you can sit at dinner from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Both dining halls are truly a great place for socializing and everyone has their preferred locale. Personally, I prefer Thorne for dinner and most lunches because it's larger, and I love the huge wooden tables. However, for one-on-one lunch or breakfast dates I really enjoy Moulton with both the dark room with its quaint booths and the light room with the smaller more intimate tables. I am going to really miss not only the food but the dining hall atmosphere as well.

Story posted on July 06, 2009

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