Ian Haight '08

Ian Haight

Ian Haight '08

Major: Biology
Hometown: Rome, Italy

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I was drawn to Bowdoin by its proximity to the Maine coast and by its small class environment. This appealed to me because I had always attended small international schools overseas. I went to kindergarten in Zimbabwe, Africa, and attended middle and high school in Rome, Italy. Since it was going to be my first time living in the United States, I wanted to go somewhere familiar; I had spent many summers in Maine at a vacation house that my family owns. I visited the campus twice and was pleased to see that Bowdoin had a large Department of Biology, as biology was a topic that I was very interested in. I was so drawn to the college that I ended up applying early decision.

Why did you choose your major?
I am a biology major with a focus in the marine sciences. I had a wonderful biology teacher in high school and I have always been interested in the ocean. Though I found introductory biology to be challenging, I greatly enjoyed the upper-level classes that it later allowed me to take. I have spent lab periods on a beach studying marine biology, and running around a sunny field with a net trying to catch dragonflies for a behavioral ecology lab.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
I greatly enjoyed Photo I, offered by the visual arts department, which I strongly recommend taking. I know what you are thinking; yes, you have to spend lots of money on photography material. Yes, you have to spend many hours in a photo studio. Yes, you usually have to beg people to help you enact your own wedding (a great way to make new friends). However, you learn practical skills and photography can be very rewarding. The pictures also make great Christmas gifts.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
First, I have to mention Aaron Kitch in the English department. He is a smooth-talking professor who knows more about Renaissance literature than I ever thought imaginable. I have not met many professors who can both explain the significance of repetition in Shakespeare's sonnets and rock out on a key-tar in an '80s rock band called Racer X.

Jon Allen and Lesley Gordon in the biology department have also been very influential to me. They have a profound interest in what they teach and study. Working with them at the Coastal Studies Center and in the field has shown me how challenging and fun the biological sciences can be.

Finally, I am rather upset that I waited till my senior year to take a biology class with Nathaniel Wheelwright. He's the kind of professor who can motivate you to skin a bird with your bare hands and can describe a close encounter with a hungry lion as "a fascinating experience." He can also tell you a lot about the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island.

Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
Yes, I spent two summers conducting research on feeding behavior and larval development in sea stars at the Bowdoin Coastal Studies Center. I am currently working with Jon Allen to write a paper on this research. It has had its hard moments and its fun moments, including going out in a row boat on a foggy night and spending many a late hour at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
The most meaningful work experience I have had at Bowdoin has been with the Office of Residential Life. I worked as a first-year proctor my sophomore year and as a resident assistant my junior year. I am currently an RA in Coles Tower. Res Life has allowed me to get to know some amazing people. Introducing freshmen to life at Bowdoin, racing cardboard boats in Greason Pool with College House members, and organizing Intramural Quidditch on the Quad are just a few examples of the activities Res Life has allowed me to do.

I played electric bass for a campus rock band during my freshmen and sophomore years. We were called "Lady Rose" and we got to open for OK Go! when they played at Bowdoin for Ivies '06. Playing concerts at Quinby House and in the Pub showed me that Bowdoin has a surprisingly good music scene. There are a lot of very talented performers at Bowdoin and they deserve a great deal of credit.

What have you done during your summers?
After both my sophomore and junior years I spent my summers living on the Bowdoin campus and conducting biology research at the Coastal Studies Center. The summer is a great time to be on campus. I spent a lot of time getting ice cream at Cote's ice cream stand downtown, playing soccer in the afternoon, and exploring the Maine coast on weekends. The Coastal Studies Center is particularly beautiful and you can always escape the summer heat by diving into the ocean. There's always plenty of room to throw a Frisbee around on the Quad and the campus stays alive, despite the scarcity of students.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
During House Orientation in 2006, Res Life organized a boat-building contest. Each House formed a team with a base camp and then sent its members out to perform different activities in order to obtain cardboard, tape, plastic wrap, and other materials. In the evening, each House team marched its boat to Greason Pool and raced them down the lanes. People dressed up, invented ridiculous cheers, and got ready to race. I will never forget the energy, hilarity, and enthusiasm that everyone expressed that night. Several awards were given out, including "prettiest boat," "first to sink," "highest capacity," and, of course, "fastest." All the boats sank in the end, and one released confetti all over the pool floor. This inspired a number of people to dive in and help with the clean up, which went remarkably well. I worked with Howell House, and we built a boat out of cardboard and plastic covering that managed to hold nine people before it sank!

What are your plans for after graduation?
Though I have enjoyed living in the U.S. for the last four years, I will most likely be heading off to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa. I have been invited to help with science education in The Gambia, which is a small country located in Senegal, on the northwestern coast of Africa. While I am sure that this will be the most challenging thing I have ever done, I am also very excited about it.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Everyone experiences Bowdoin differently, though there are at least three things I would recommend doing as a Bowdoin student. First, go scream your lungs out at any Bowdoin athletic event. Yell at a Bowdoin vs. Colby hockey game or scream "Go U Bears!" at a women's basketball game. Second, get some Cote's ice cream and relax on the Brunswick mall or the Bowdoin Quad with friends. Finally, take a class that is completely and totally unrelated to whatever you think you want to do in life, because you might find you enjoy the topic or the new people you meet.

What quirky or fun thing did you wish you knew before you came to Bowdoin?
I wish I had known sooner that students can work for Dining Service during Commencement weekend. I did not do this until my junior year and I greatly enjoyed it. While it is a lot of work, you get to spend a lot of time with the people that really make Bowdoin work behind the scenes. There are some great people on the Bowdoin dining staff and grounds crew, and I was glad I got to know a few of them. Also, you get to eat all the leftover Bowdoin Logs that you want. How could anyone pass up an opportunity like that? [The famous Bowdoin Log is a much-loved dessert made from crushed chocolate wafers, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce.—ed.]

Story posted on March 26, 2008

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