Katie Swan '06

Katie Swan

Katie Swan '06

Hometown: Ipswich, Massachusetts
Major: Biology

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
As a triple legacy of Williams College graduates, I realized the impact that a liberal arts education has had on my relatives. But, in growing up on the coast of northern Massachusetts, I had the feeling that the Berkshires and purple cows were not for me! I was looking for the same well-rounded educational experience and strong sense of community that the small-college NESCAC continent offered. Upon my visit to Bowdoin, I realized that this was exactly the college I was hoping to find.

Why did you choose your major?
I have been interested in biology for as long as I can remember. Much of my life has centered on my interaction with nature. I recall going frog hunting with my mom in first grade, collecting sea critters every summer at the beach, and even rehabilitating a baby squirrel I found in my backyard. One summer in high school, I sailed from Baltimore, Maryland, to Salem, Massachusetts, on a schooner and studied humpback whales. With all of these experiences behind me, I had no doubt that biology was the major I was destined to pursue.

What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
During sophomore year, I took a course in Contemporary Chinese Society with Sociology Professor Nancy Riley. This course was different from most at Bowdoin. The first half of it was a semester-long lecture course about the different aspects of Chinese society, including topics in gender inequality, the one-child policy, the effects of tourism and public health concerns, to name a few. The second half of the class, funded by a grant, brought us to Asia. The trip began in Shanghai and took us down the western edge of China and further south through Vietnam, where we visited numerous historic temples and museums and were hosted by local families. This eye-opening course gave me the chance to take the seemingly abstract concepts I had learned in class and see their true existence in a real setting.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
Music was my true passion at Bowdoin. As a percussionist, I took part in the Bowdoin College Concert Band conducted by John Morneau. I also played in the pit orchestra of the musical production of Into the Woods and played African drums and marimba in the World Music Ensemble. I have also worked with professors and fellow students to premiere pieces they had written. To take my playing to another extreme, I was also a member of the Bowdoin African step-dance team, Unity. As a member of the team, I both performed and choreographed steps.

In addition, I am a member of the Residential Life staff and have done a number of volunteer activities, including working in the Emergency Department of Mid Coast Hospital, organizing blood drives through the American Red Cross and participating in Common Good Day.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain, an experience that was both wonderful and difficult. Surrounded by the architecture of Gaudi and the artwork of Picasso, Dali and Miro, all while living with a senora was an incredible experience! It is hard to summarize four months living in another country in only a few words. Though the experience was extraordinarily difficult at times, reminding myself that I was opening my mind to another culture and pushing myself out of my comfort zone made it all the more powerful.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
With numerous impromptu study break activities and silly moments that I could mention, one that most stands out in my mind was the going-away party for [former Dean of Student Affairs] Craig Bradley and [sociology professor and former Dean for Academic Affairs] Craig McEwen. I will never forget dancing the conga line with my biology professor Anne McBride and psychology professor Suzanne Lovett and swing dancing with President Barry Mills all to the rock-star voice of music professor Vin Shende singing "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder. It was a moment when I realized the true sense of community at Bowdoin where students and faculty work and live together and support one another as a family.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I am hoping to take a hiatus from academia and do a few years of clinical research in Boston. From there, I intend to go to nursing school and become a nurse practitioner.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Try everything! If there is one thing I regret about my first year, it is being overwhelmed with the number of activities available at Bowdoin. Students at Bowdoin are notoriously overcommitted and, I believe, happily so! Try something completely different that you could not imagine yourself enjoying. You may just learn something new about yourself.

Story posted on August 21, 2006

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