Julia Shaver '05

Julia Shaver '05

Hometown: Long Lake, Minnesota
Major: Neuroscience, with a minor in Economics

Why did you come to Bowdoin?
Well, I knew I wanted a small school, and I wanted to get out of Minnesota. I love my home, but I definitely wanted something new. When it came down to it, I realized that when I visited Bowdoin - I know a lot of people say this - I had that feeling. The people at Bowdoin had that extra something. It was just that feeling I got when I stepped on campus that I knew I could really spend four years here and love it. And I have. It's been great.

Why did you decide on your major?
I came to Bowdoin having no clue. Math was in there, English, psychology - I had no idea. I have so many interests and was excited about all my options, but overwhelmed at the same time. But I started taking both biology and psychology courses, just kind of happened to my freshman year, and loved them both. I never really knew neuroscience existed as a major until my sophomore year when I was thinking, "Okay, what should I do?" I had taken a lot of biology and psychology courses, which were prerequisites for a lot of the neuroscience courses, the higher level ones. And I started looking at the upper level courses and they looked so interesting, so I just thought, "Hey, why not?" The inner workings of the brain and the anatomy just interest me a lot, so it's been great.

Economics? I took a microeconomics course my freshman fall with [Professor] Herrera and just really enjoyed it. I think that first class got me very interested in it, and I stuck with it. I was debating about double-majoring, but that would probably [have taken] a little too much time and I wanted to get my full liberal arts degree, so I stuck with the minor.

What has been your best class at Bowdoin?
There are two that stick out in my mind. One class I just took last semester [was] called Lab in Learning and Memory with Seth Ramus, whom I love. [He's] one of my favorite professors here. We were working with rats - we all called [it] the Rat Lab Course - doing behavioral testing on them and looking at the role of the hippocampus in learning and memory. It was unlike any other class I had taken before here because I really felt like we were doing real science, and we were working on a project that, had it gotten probably more significant results, could have been published. Actually talking to a professor and having the class be involved in the decisions of the experiment felt really great. You feel like you're doing something substantial.

[The other class] that I really loved, which was quite different than all my lab courses, was with Professor Olds, who was great. It was the first course I took with him. It was called Art, Science, and the Mind, and it was an art history course. It really was great because it took this neuroscience and brain stuff that I had kind of learned at deeper levels, but integrated that with art history. I could look at these paintings and these works of art and know why they're beautiful to people and know what in our brain triggers that [feeling]. It was really cool to integrate my major with an art history course and know that all these things I'm learning here can work together.

What extracurriculars do you participate in? Do you have an on-campus job?
I play tennis, which has been an amazing experience. I wasn't sure I was going to play when I came here but I decided I wanted to try out for the team and it worked out and I couldn't be happier that I decided [to play]. It's both spring and fall, and obviously a large commitment time-wise, but it's been just amazing because the relationships I've formed on the team and the girls I've met have been awesome. The van rides, the court time, the everything - that made my experience here just that much greater.

I've been a member of Residential Life for three years. Ever since my first semester here, seeing my Proctor and a lot of the other [Resident Assistants] and Proctors, I knew it was something I wanted to do. I was a Proctor in Coleman [Hall] my sophomore year and then Head Proctor my junior year. It was just so great being a Proctor, to really help a freshman make that transition from high school to college, because I know it's an important one. To be a part of that and then see them grow throughout the year has just been awesome. And then I'm an RA this year. I wanted to stick with Res Life definitely. But that's been great, too - programming and having campus-wide events and things like that.

I am a member of Warriors, which is the eating disorders awareness group on campus. That's also been a really wonderful experience because I have friends and family members who have had issues with that. It's great to try to bring my experiences and my desires to make this campus more aware [of] the seriousness of the issue, because it is, and obviously most people at Bowdoin know it's a big issue, too. So that's been great, bringing lectures and things like that.

I've been doing Special Friends a little bit, too. There are a few people who do it regularly every Saturday or every other Saturday. Basically you work with adult handicapped people in the Brunswick community. You go do fun activities like make Valentine's Day cards on Valentine's Day or go bowling for the afternoon or see a movie and eat popcorn, and basically just kind of hang out and have them have a great Saturday with you. It's really great to have that kind of interaction with community members.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
Oh, there are just so many. One memory which really sticks out in my mind was when my older sister visited. She had never seen the campus before, but had heard me rave about Bowdoin. We were walking from Thorne Dining Hall to the Union, and we must have passed - as every Bowdoin student knows, you pass fifteen or twenty of your friends along the way just halfway across campus - and we talked to a lot of my friends along the way. I'd stop and chat and introduce them to my older sister. So when we walked in the Union and I got to my mailbox, [my sister] said, "That was amazing! I cannot believe you just knew every student that walked by." It made me realize what an amazing place this is because you cannot walk across campus without running by five or ten of your friends. I don't think most of us here really realize or appreciate it because we are faced with that every day, and it's awesome. I think that just made me a little more aware of how lucky we are and what a close community it is.

What are your plans after graduation?
I would like to integrate my neuroscience and economics somehow, so in trying to do that, I've been thinking about either pharmaceutical sales positions or something along those lines, like a clinical science liaison, or a clinical consultant, things like that. So I'm in the process right now, [and] would like to stay out east in either Boston or New York, or the other coast - San Francisco would be wonderful. But [I'm] definitely trying to keep both my neuroscience and economics somewhere in the mix.

Is there anything else about Bowdoin or your experiences here that you'd like a prospective student to know?
Being a senior now, in my last semester, I would probably say just cherish it from day one. I think it's really easy, with the amount of opportunities that exist here, to just get caught up in it and want to take part in anything and everything that you love here because there are so many opportunities. I think to really just not let yourself get too caught up in it. Take a step back every once in a while and just realize what a great place this is and that the time will fly by - because it does. Enjoy relationships that you've formed and those activities you get involved in and those professors that you meet. All of a sudden, it will be your senior spring and you'll be "where did the time go?" That's my advice for incoming students.

Story posted on February 24, 2005

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