Julia Seltzer '09

Julia Seltzer '09

Hometown: New York City
Major: Government and Legal Studies (International) and Spanish, with a minor in Economics

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I was attracted to Bowdoin for a variety of reasons, but I ultimately chose to come here because of my impressions of the people I met when I visited the campus. The students had a great fun-loving energy about them. Everyone I spoke with seemed to be super involved in the community, intelligent, active, and deeply devoted to Bowdoin. I think Bowdoin is really distinguished by the students' commitment to both each other and the school.

Why did you choose your major?
I entered Bowdoin with a passion for law and politics on an international scale, and the intent to go directly to law school after my four years here. This aspiration in conjunction with the wonderful reputation of the Government and Legal Studies courses led me to select a first year seminar in the department, Human Being and Citizen, with Professor Paul Franco. The seminar surpassed my highest expectations and I have since had many excellent experiences with the Gov department, although I am no longer planning on attending law school after graduation.

My decision to also choose a Spanish major evolved organically over my time here. Although I took Spanish classes in high school, it was at Bowdoin where I fell in love with the Spanish language and became fascinated by a wide range of issues (political, economic, social, historic, artistic...) pertaining to countries in Latin America. Over the past year I had the opportunity to travel in both Colombia and Peru, further fueling my strong commitment to Spanish.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
I've enjoyed many of my courses here at Bowdoin — it's definitely difficult to narrow it down. Last spring I took a Spanish seminar called War of the Latin American Worlds that stands out in my mind. Professor Carolyn Wolfenzon's passion for the material was contagious and everyone became very involved in the course. The class was a wonderful mix of students and we had a great chemistry. The course also exposed me to wonderful authors I had never come across before, such as Roberto Bolaño.

The same semester I also took a memorable Gov seminar called Conflict Simulation and Resolution. The students were divided into two teams and we competed against each other throughout the entire course, first in weekly debates and then in a heated mock congressional election.

I also developed my strong interest in developmental economics while at Bowdoin and I have found the related courses I've taken here to be very enjoyable and an important component of my education. Last semester I took Economy of Latin America with Professor Julián Díaz and was fascinated by the material we covered. We studied a range of growth strategies that have been pursued in Latin America and examined cases of individual countries.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
A list of the professors that have inspired me during my time at Bowdoin would be a little too lengthy, so I'll be concise and just name a few of them. I've had the privilege of working in independent studies with both Professor Enrique Yepes and Professor Carolyn Wolfenzon and I will always be grateful to both of them for how they challenged and inspired me. Professor Christian Potholm's guidance and innovative government courses have also been a very valuable part of my Bowdoin education.

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Julia and the 2007 Relay for Life team.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I am involved in a wide range of extracurricular activities that are incredibly important to me, but for the sake of time I'll just mention a couple. This is my second year as chair of Bowdoin's Colleges Against Cancer chapter and the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Relay for Life event. The fight against cancer is a cause extremely close to my heart and the opportunity to lead an event that has raised over $135,700 for ACS over the last three years has been very rewarding. The Relay for Life committee is a great group of students — we have a lot of fun and share a passion for the work we do. This year's event is April 17–18, 2009, and we'll be having our kickoff at the Bowdoin pub on February 19 from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

I'm also a president of Bowdoin's Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC) Chapter. SGAC is a national student and youth movement committed to bringing an end to HIV and AIDS worldwide through education, informed advocacy, media work, and direct action. I led an SGAC chapter in my high school and was surprised to find out that Bowdoin did not have one when I arrived here. I founded Bowdoin's SGAC chapter with my roommate Ali Cram sophomore year and the group has been meeting ever since.

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Julia meets a friendly camel in Morocco.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin? ?
I spent the fall of my junior year abroad in Granada, Spain. It was an amazing experience — I can't urge students enough to go abroad! It really is an unbelievable opportunity to grow and explore (sounds cliché, but it's true).

What have you done during your summers?
I've loved all of my summers since starting Bowdoin. I've made it a point to spend most of my summer time in New York City, my hometown, to ensure some quality time with family, old friends, and of course the city, too. This past summer I completed a nine-week internship with ING in Emerging Market and Western European Equity Sales. The same summer I also had the opportunity to take some time away from the office to travel in Medellín, Colombia, and attend the XVIII annual International Festival of Poetry. This trip was tied to a Latin American Studies Grant I received from Bowdoin, and constitutes a very valuable component of my college education. My travels were directly connected to an independent study I took with Professor Yepes this past fall, in which I explored the power of poetry as a tool for social activism in Latin America.

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Medellín, Colombia: the XVIII annual International Festival of Poetry.

Traveling in Medellín and working on a Sales and Trading floor was quite a change of pace from my role the summer after my sophomore year as an intern investigator for the Legal Aid Society of New York's Criminal Practice. Although this internship is generally unpaid, I received funding from the Preston Public Interest Career Fund Summer Fellowship — a wonderful summer fellowship that all Bowdoin students can apply for. As an intern investigator, I worked on criminal investigations in a range of capacities, spent time in court with my two mentor staff attorneys, and interviewed incarcerated clients for a special litigation project. This position also differed a great deal from my job the previous summer as an intern policy analyst for government benefits. My work in this internship was focused on intensive case services for welfare recipients.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
I won't speak to a single best Bowdoin memory, but I'll briefly describe one of the many memorable experiences I've had here. Just the other week we had one of the biggest snowstorms I've ever seen in Brunswick. My friend and I, done with our classes for the day and inspired by the unrelenting swirl of flakes outside, decided to venture out on cross-country skis. We snapped into our skis right in the center of campus and proceeded to wander all throughout the fields by Farley Field House and the streets of Brunswick with nothing in our way but fresh snow (and the occasional snowplow). We ended our excursion by skiing straight through campus up to the entrance of Smith Union to relax and snuggle up with a cup of hot cocoa from the café.

What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation (and hopefully some exciting summer travels) I will be moving to Boston and working as a business analyst for Deloitte Consulting.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Take all the time in the world at meals. This semester my friends and I have been speaking a lot about all those things unique to Bowdoin that we'll miss next year when we're away and we always seem to come back to the long meals we share together at Thorne Dining Hall. Whether you're eating with one friend or a group of 20, meals offer a time to catch up and a space away from the myriad other commitments everyone has at Bowdoin. They provide an ideal opportunity to just relax and have fun with your friends. At how many other points in your life will you have so many people you know/enjoy/care about...all eating and hanging out together in the same room?

What quirky or fun thing did you wish you knew before you came to Bowdoin?
For just $20 you can take yoga classes at the Schwartz Outdoor Leadership Center every week for an entire semester!

Story posted on February 12, 2009

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