Jennifer Montalvo

Jennifer Montalvo

Why did you come to Bowdoin?
Bowdoin and the Bronx are two very different places, but my mentor thought it would be a great match for me and encouraged me to look into it. I fell in love with Bowdoin when I came up to visit. The school was academically strong and the campus was amazing, but the clincher really came from the Admissions staff. They were so warm, inviting, and accommodating. It soon became obvious that, of all the places I was considering, this would be the only place that would really look out for me while I was transitioning into the New England College culture. When I got here, I soon found that my hunch about Bowdoin was right.

Why did you decide on your major?
I decided my major after taking Baroque Art my sophomore year with Professor Susan Wegner. I had not considered majoring in art, but after Professor Wegnerís class, I fell in love with the subject. It was the perfect course to take to introduce me to the topic; it was a class of 6. We spent the semester doing in depth studies of several artists, whose works I had seen before, but never really had appreciated until then. I was hooked.

What's the best class you've ever taken at Bowdoin?
Penny Martinís education 101 course was the first time at Bowdoin that I was able to open up and express myself. She has a way of bringing out the best in a person. Coupling her pedagogy and a great group of students, we had an amazing semester full of lively debates (even if it was an 8am course). It was my second semester my first year at Bowdoin and that course challenged me both academically and socially. I will never forget her encouragement and the way she believes in me. The Admissions staff was the reason I came to Bowdoin and Penny Martin was the reason I stayed.

What extracurricular activities do you participate in?
Along with a group of students, I worked to form the Circolo Italiano my sophomore year. It really came together that year and I really enjoyed screening Italian films, help with the organization of an end of the semester dinner, and taking a trip to Bostonís North End for a day of cultural enrichment. I hope to get the group together for some more activities this spring.

Also, I am on the board of the Latin American Studentís Organization (L.A.S.O).
Even if I donít tell them, they have really provided me with a nice home away from home. No matter what has happened, and even when I donít feel like sharing, I always find solace when I go to them. As a group, I think we have done some great things for the Latin American population and for those students interested in Latin cultures. Through the support of L.A.S.O., I am presently working to launch a forum called ďFree Speech.Ē It will potentially be an afternoon for open discussion in Smith Union open to student, staff, and faculty.

What's your best Bowdoin memory?
I was awarded a Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship at the end of my sophomore year, which changed my experience with art history and Bowdoin forever. To put the icing on the cake, they founded a field research project in Florence, Italy for 6 weeks last summer. I worked along side a Filippo Brunelleschi scholar on this architectsí works in Florence. It was one of the best feelings when I got the research project approved and had the opportunity to return to Italy.

What's your strangest or funniest experience while at Bowdoin?
One of my best friends, Juleah Swanson, and I took apart our friendís Pat, Gary, and J.P.ís room, rearranged their bedroom furniture, and made their bedroom into a fort. We then took it further and made paper flags to claim our triumph over them with them with this prank. I still have the pictures of our little stunt. From then on, we made sure to always lock our doors in fear of retaliation.

Have you done any independent study/honors projects?
I have done two independent studies and am working on my third at the moment. My first project was an architectural design project where I worked with Professor Glass to redesign the Walker Art Building. I designed plans to extend the gallery space, make it handicapped accessible, and added an extension to the building on the Park Row Side.

Last semester, I worked with Professor Wegner on an in depth study of two master architects of the Italian Renaissance. I began part of the study in Florence, Italy through my fellowship. Then, I expanded it and worked to created a comparison between the two architects, while expanding my knowledge about Italian architecture.

This semester, I am looking forward to doing a joint study, with Elsbeth Pratt and Professor Stephen Perkinson, on Hieronymus Bosch and surrealism.

Have you studied away during your time at Bowdoin?
I studied abroad my junior fall semester in Siena, Italy. I found an amazing art history program that situated me close to a major art center, while still offering me the opportunity to live in a small town and become immersed in the culture. It was important, to me, that I further my Italian language skills, which happened living in Siena, while expanding my art history background through interaction with art in Florence, Venice, Rome, and many small towns in Tuscany.

What are your plans for after graduation?
That seems to be the question of the day Ė everyday. At the moment, I am looking into museum and gallery jobs in New York City for my year off, but then I will be heading off to graduate school, most likely on the West Coast. Hopefully, living Jenís vida loca the whole time.

Story posted on January 31, 2004

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