Eileen Francis Schneider '04

Eileen Francis Schneider '04

Hometown: Rochester, New York Major: Government and Legal Studies; Art History minor

Why did you come to Bowdoin?
I had never been in the state of Maine until I visited Bowdoin for an accepted students event, so it was sort of a strange decision. Honestly? I stayed over with a bunch of squash players who were juniors then, and they lived on the 12th floor of [Coles] Tower. Waking up to that view over Bowdoin sealed the deal. So Bowdoin, I only love you because you're pretty.

Why did you decide on that major?
Since high school I knew I wanted to study American government and I quickly became a Professor Hetherington groupie. Once I found out that a field actually existed where you could study what was on CNN all day, I started focusing on political behavior. After freshman year I told myself to only take classes I wanted to take and worry about distribution and requirements later. Giving myself that freedom to get into Art History was very important. I bombed the first test in 101 and found that once I actually started studying for the next one, I LOVED the process of learning about the images. My art history classes have been amazing; you're really learning the history of all these cultures based on the art they left behind and what they deemed valuable. The material could teach itself, but we have a fantastic department that never disappoints

What's the best class you've ever taken at Bowdoin, and why?
Well, I hate to eulogize professors who are no longer at Bowdoin, but Professor Marcia Weigle in Government has an infectious passion for European government that her students could not help but be stricken with. I think my friends and I have found that with a lot of Bowdoin professors; they are just so enamored with the subjects they teach that before you know it, you're caught up in their web.

The Education department is a great example, I took 101 freshman fall and liked it, but I did not then understand that the department is evangelical -- if you give them an inch, Professor Jennings or Professor Martin will take over your brain and convince you that your life's goal is the educate the youth of America!

What extracurricular activities do you participate in? What do you like about them?
This year I was a captain of the squash team, which I've played on for four years. I've spent a lot of time working for some squash news sources over the last three years reporting on college squash and writing some interviews and feature articles. I've been the student representative to the committee on the Art Museum for three years, I was a part of the Volunteer Lawyer's Project junior year and back in freshman year I was on the Rugby team.

Being involved with athletics in college is unbelievable. We've been lucky enough to have a great group of squash players and a lot of success over the years. If you can be intensely involved in one thing over your whole college career, it provides you with a great map of your time here and how you've changed since you arrived. Squash has, at times, been an incredible motivator and source of happiness, and at other times an incredible annoyance and source of stress. Having a great team to take that ride with you is the only way to do it.

What's your best Bowdoin memory?
I believe that the best thing I can hope for in terms of a "best Bowdoin memory" is to look back and just be proud of how I spent my time. Its easy to be involved in a lot of things at Bowdoin, and its impossible to get completely perfect results from every venue you're in, be it academics, athletics, relationships, or extracurricular activities. Every year I take stock of what I really remember, and yes, some all-night papers and painful midterms do stick out, but I also remember great squash matches, funny dinners with friends, and interactions with faculty and staff.

I'll tell you what my best memory WILL be...most people who know me know that one of my deepest and oldest ambitions is to steal a tour from admissions and just take the group around campus. I have developed elaborate plans for how to lure visitors into my group, but I always change my mind about where I'm going to take them when we set out. I definitely want to have them enter Coleman through a basement window, they can't miss that view of campus from the top of the Tower, and I certainly could not permit anyone to leave Brunswick without spending some quality time on the record-setting linoleum seal in Smith Union.

What's your strangest or funniest experience while at Bowdoin?
Back in the 2000-2001 school year Bowdoin telephones had a feature, which I fondly refer to as *8, that served as an intercom between any campus phones. By dialing *8 before a room number, you could just speak into that room without the receiver picking up the phone. It was a glorious era for Bowdoin College communications. My friend had a keyboard with pre-programmed beats that sounded like elevator music, so we would call our friends and perform airplane safety announcements and even page specific passengers, all complete with accompaniment. We also created a few personalized songs, many of which I can still sing. The most famous one was addressed to my then-squash captain and began, "Hey, my name is Dana, and I'm a double maja." Trust me, it was hilarious. You'd laugh too if you were sitting in your room and my voice suddenly paged you to return to the baggage claim.

Describe your most unique academic experience.
Over spring break of my junior year I traveled with Professor Nancy Jennings and five other students to study contemporary issues in urban and rural education. We spent half our time at the Epiphany School in Dorchester, Mass., and the other half looking at rural and island schools in Blue Hill and Islesboro, Maine. It was a phenomenal experience to take that curiosity that our professors had instilled in us in the classroom out to the field and take a hands-on look at what organizations, teachers, and students are facing. At the charter school we tutored students, taught lessons, and even slept on the floor of the library. It turned out to be just another example of Bowdoin students outside the bubble continuing to employ the skills and attitudes that you can expect from a Bowdoin student.

What are your plans for after graduation?
Step down the stairs very carefully and take my seat. Then take my cap off as soon as possible, I'm very nervous about my fine hair, so I can't be risking anything that would compromise my volumizing efforts. Then go to that lobster bake with my family and probably some parties after that.

Actually, I'm all set to apply to law school. I hope to ultimately enter the very sexy field of intellectual property law. Right after graduation, however, I'll be working at a "closely-held" investment firm in New York, engaging in unspecified "closely-held" activities.

Is there anything else about Bowdoin or your experiences here that you would want prospective students to know?
I have broken almost every rule I set for myself when I was in high school and approaching college, and the warm but adventurous atmosphere at Bowdoin let me do it. If you don't put yourself in challenging or new situations, you'll never have a chance to surprise yourself. I joined teams and activities that I wasn't supposed to, I took classes in departments that I told myself I wouldn't, and I'm looking at post-graduation options that I never would have expected. Those experiences are among the most rewarding things I've done here. My advice pretty much echoes something a professor told me this year, and it applies to everyone: don't shut your own doors, let someone shut them for you.

Story posted on July 01, 2004

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