Majors: Economics and Environmental Studies
Hometown: Berkeley, California
Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
Not many people can boast of having attended a high school twice the size of their college. Although I knew it would be an adjustment going from a vast high school of 3,400 students to a small liberal arts college, this was a change I eagerly sought. But after visiting numerous East Coast liberal arts colleges, all the schools began to blur in my memory—except Bowdoin. During my visit there was a massive chilly rainstorm and the power went out, yet I still enjoyed the experience. Since I had not particularly enjoyed the weather or the tour, I figured that it was something about the people that drew me to the school. When I visited in the spring, I was struck again by the friendliness of everyone on campus; people I met were genuinely interested in sharing their experiences and answering my questions. In fact, some of the people I met during admitted students weekend are my closest friends today.
Why did you choose your major?
After taking every science class my high school offered, I was eager to major in biology. However, I found Environmental Studies 101 particularly interesting and was amused by the fact that three professors—from the biology, philosophy, and government departments—taught the course. I enjoyed how each of the three fields had something unique and important to contribute to our readings and discussion. Environmental studies is inherently interdisciplinary, and I found myself taking more and more of these courses, some overlapping with history, biology, and economics. As someone who enjoys numbers and quantitative analysis, I was drawn most towards the environmental economics courses. Meshing together my interests, I settled on an economics and environmental studies coordinate major and a biology minor. This combination has given me a balanced mix of theory, reading, writing, and lab work.
What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
Last year I took an environmental studies capstone seminar, a new type of project-based course taught by Professor Phil Camill. I worked with a group of classmates as a team of environmental consultants for the towns of Brunswick and Topsham. During this semester-long group project, we worked to create a climate action plan for the two towns. First, we constructed a greenhouse gas inventory for both towns by analyzing emissions data from residential, municipal and commercial sources. We then developed greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies for the towns. The course culminated with a final presentation at Frontier Cafe to a large audience of community members. It was rewarding to collaborate with both town councils to develop a project of real value.
Which staff members have you connected with most?
Staff members of the McKeen Center for the Common Good played important roles in my Bowdoin experience. As a McKeen Fellow for the past two years I have had regular "office hours" at the McKeen Center and spent considerable time working alongside Sarah Seames, Jess Hortskotte, Susie Dorn, Shawn Gerwig and Colin Joyner—their passion for the common good has been both inspiring and contagious.
What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
The McKeen Center for the Common Good has been an important part of my Bowdoin experience. As a first-year, I participated in Bowdoin's popular student-run Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program, which entailed engaging in a semester of educational seminars, volunteering for a week within communities, and sharing these experiences at an event for the Bowdoin community. As a participant my first year to Guatemala (working with Safe Passage) and a trip leader the following two years to Louisiana (rebuilding houses in an area devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita) and most recently to Washington, D.C. (addressing issues of hunger and homelessness), I have had the privilege of working with three distinct communities and groups of Bowdoin students. Currently, I am the McKeen Fellow for the ASB program as a whole; I co-direct a leadership seminar for this year's trip leaders and have a hand in helping to organize the seven trips.
Last year, I was the first-ever McKeen Fellow for Weekend Trips and developed a new service program to allow students to become involved in communities within Maine. I organized four trips, including a Fall Break trip to North Haven where our group worked on an affordable housing site and learned about rural island life in Maine, and two trips to Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses, and a trip to the Carpenter's Boat Shop in Pemaquid. This year I passed along the role of coordinator and the program is expanding to include more trips and an eventual leadership-training component.
Additionally, I am the student volunteer coordinator for the admissions office, a member of Bowdoin Women in Business, a student representative on a trustee committee, and an economics tutor for the Quantitative Reasoning Program. In the past I've been a member of the Common Good Grant Committee, served on the Entertainment Board, and led two Community Immersion Pre-Orientation trips.
What have you done during your summers?
I went home for the summer after my first year and taught two algebra courses to sixth and seventh grade students attending an Aim High summer program. I discovered Aim High, which was founded by a Bowdoin alum [Alec Lee '80] in Oakland, Calif., when I came across an inspiring article highlighting the organization's work in Bowdoin magazine. I immediately researched the organization in the hopes of becoming involved for the summer. Aim High is an award-winning summer program that provides rigorous academic programs to undeserved middle school youth in the San Francisco area. To my surprise I was placed in a lead math instructor role and learned quickly throughout the summer how to create effective and engaging lesson plans.
The next summer I taught at a summer enrichment program in Massachusetts for students entering fourth to seventh grade. I taught courses called Pond Ecology, Dissection and Extreme Science to dozens of energetic students. One of my courses culminated in the creation of a 40-foot-long replica of a giant squid!
Although I love teaching, this past summer I wanted to try something new and explore the business world. I decided to pursue a finance internship and worked in Goldman Sach's Investment Management Division in Boston. Through participating in a formal training program, preparing for numerous presentations and constantly following the markets I learned an incredible amount over the summer. Each of my summers I have worked alongside other Bowdoin students and alumni and have come to realize the incredible strength of the Bowdoin network.
What is your favorite Bowdoin memory?
Many of my favorite Bowdoin memories revolve around dinner—not only is it my favorite meal of the day, but it is a great time to unwind and enjoy the company of friends. Sophomore year I lived in Burnett House and, among the many events we planned, we held a large lobster bake in our house. It was a struggle stuffing dozens of lobsters into pots of boiling water, but well worth it when it came time to eat them alongside friends and professors. Unfortunately the entire house smelled like lobster for at least a week even after we sprayed a lot of air freshener.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I will be working in the Boston office of Goldman Sachs as a financial analyst after graduation. I had a wonderful internship and know the learning curve will continue to be steep as I enter the world of finance. Long-term, I plan to attend business school and hope to meld my experience in finance with my interest in the environment.
What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
As an "ask-a-student" e-mailer for the admissions office, I receive countless questions from prospective students about the Bowdoin experience...and I have a different answer every time. Besides the typical advice to try new things and get involved, I absolutely recommend enrolling in community-based courses. These courses all have a project component with a local nonprofit organization and provide an interesting link between classroom work and the real world.
What quirky or fun things do you wish you had known before you came to Bowdoin?
I wish I had known how practical and essential L.L. Bean's Bean Boots are in Maine. These clunky, waterproof leather and rubber boots keep your feet warm and dry no matter what. Coming from California, I had no idea such things would be a necessity.
Additionally, my first year I wish I had understood the history behind Winthrop Hall. One day, while standing outside the entrance, a group of visitors eagerly walked up to me and if they could they visit the third floor. My room was on the third floor but I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about! I soon learned that poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived on the third floor of Winthrop Hall when he was a student at Bowdoin in the 1820s. Although the building has been renovated many times, there is now a plaque outside the third floor in his memory.