Dan Hall '05

Dan Hall

Dan Hall '05

Hometown: Derry, New Hampshire
Major: Biology and Physics, with a minor in Chemistry

Why did you come to Bowdoin?
I really wanted to stay in New England, and I feel like I'm going to end up in the city for a while with medical school, so I thought it would be nice to be in a small town and have small classes. It seemed like there was a lot of athletics and intramurals, so that was [appealing].

How did you decide on your major?
Biology is part of the pre-med thing, the generic, "If you're going pre-med, you do Biology." Obviously I like Biology, also. I did Physics because I had to take a bunch of the classes for pre-med, and the classes are really interesting. Almost all of the [physics] classes I've had have had about six people, and the professors are really great.

What has been your favorite class at Bowdoin?
I took a sociology class on families with Professor [Nancy] Riley and I really enjoyed that. The reading was really thought provoking. I eventually would like to go into pediatrics, so learning about families and women and children in different cultures was really interesting. She's a great professor.

As far as sciences go, I've taken a couple of classes with Professor [Bruce] Kohorn, and he is just very clear [in] his lectures. He teaches cell biology. The classes I've taken with him have been applicable to every other biology class I've taken, and I feel like his classes are the classes that I've definitely learned the most in.

Have you done any independent studies?
I'm doing an honors project right now. I'm working with the developmental biology professor, [Assistant Professor of Biology Nicole Theodosiou]. My project is working with stingray skates and looking at how their digestive tract develops, because they don't have a normal digestive tube tract like mammals do, they have a spiral valve - it's basically a tube that has a corkscrew down it. So we're looking how that formed and how it relates to what we usually think of as the small intestine.

What extracurricular activities do you participate in? Do you have an on-campus job?
I run track and cross country. I'm a distance runner, so it's basically one long season throughout the year. I think that's been one of the best experiences I've had here. [The team is] a funny group of kids. Every time it's snowing and sleeting and raining, we're putting on our snow suits and hats and gloves [to go] out running. Everyone else is waiting in line to get into the Fitness Center, [and] here we are, the idiots you see running down the middle of the road when it hasn't been plowed yet.

The track team's so nice because the men's and women's teams do pretty much everything together, so you're not just hanging out with the same group of guys everyday. It's 80 or 90 people, men and women, and people come from all over the country, so it ends up being a really nice way to get to know different people. I don't think I would have become as good friends with as many people through regular interactions.

And I'm a student manager at [Thorne] Dining Hall. The employees in the dining hall are just the greatest group of people. Plus you get to see both sides of being served the food and then serving the food to everybody else. It kind of puts in perspective how nice it is to have this school providing for you.

I do a lot of community service. I led an [Alternative] Spring Break trip to Harlem this year [with] Jocelyn Foulke ['05]. Ten of us [participated in the service trip]. During the day, we volunteered in Teach for America classrooms, so everybody split up and went to different classrooms, and then in the afternoon we were at a Boys and Girls Club. We just hung out with the kids there and we brought down cookies and did cookie decorating with them and decorated t-shirts. I was in a seventh-grade math class with my teacher, which was in the middle of Harlem, and it was pretty wild. Just having another couple of people in this classroom to give kids personal attention and help them with their work - it was unreal the difference it made. By the end of the week, the teacher said, "You know, I got more work done this week than we get done in a month in a normal classroom." And I think pretty much everyone had that experience.

I volunteer at Midcoast Hospital, which is a lot of fun. I'm in the emergency room. I've been doing that for two years.

I read at a pre-school in the mornings with a program called Success by Six. I go out to Bath every week. I've been doing it all year. I look forward all week to reading to these kids. After spending all night studying organic chemistry or something like that, then you go in and you're reading these kids books about barnyard animals pooping. They're just laughing, rolling around on the floor, holding their stomachs, cracking up - it's hilarious. A lot of the parents are from the Brunswick community, so I'll see these kids in Hannaford [Supermarket] and they remember my name and they give me a big hug. Working with those kids is awesome.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
My best Bowdoin memory is a suite of memories. I've lived with the same three kids for three years, and there's one kid in the group of the four of us that we always pull pranks on, so it's been three years of pushing this kid's buttons constantly. We'll do things like go into his room and stuff newspaper into every nook and cranny. We bought these huge boxing gloves, and when he'd be working in the computer lab, we'd run in and [whack him] with the boxing gloves. Basically we've been pranking this one kid for four years. Those are definitely some of the funniest memories I've had at Bowdoin. It kind of represents the relationship with my friends - it's just been goofing around and having fun for four years.

What are your plans after graduation?
I'm applying to medical school this summer to go in 2006, and for the next year, I'm going to be here working at the Community Service Resource Center. The Community Service Resource Center and the school district that includes Harpswell and the islands have come together and sponsored this AmeriCorps VISTA position that involves getting more mentors into the Harpswell schools and also improving the Bowdoin mentoring programs. So I'll get to spend half my day out at the superintendent's office and then half my day [at Bowdoin]. That should be fun.

I'm looking forward to being back here. I was hesitant to do it at first, but I feel like it will still be rewarding to work here. It's a neat project because there's really not a whole lot that's done with mentoring, so I get to define where I want to go with the project, and whatever sort of improvements I can make [will be] great.

What advice would you give to a first year about the Bowdoin experience?
I would definitely recommend to do the best you can to not get too wrapped up in academics. I'm glad that I did what I did with academics, but being on a sports team and the connections I've made with people in the community are by far the most rewarding aspect [of my time at Bowdoin]. I think in the long run, those are what had the most effect on making me a better person in general. So I recommend doing schoolwork, but [also] taking the opportunity while you're here to utilize the Community Service Resource Center and the chances you have to interact with other people.

Story posted on July 25, 2005

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