Lauren Withey '06

Lauren Withey

Lauren Withey '06

Majors: Government (International Relations), Environmental Studies
Minor: Economics
Home: West Rockport, Maine

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
As a Mainer, I thought I wanted to get out of the state for college. Somehow, my plan didn't quite work out. Bowdoin was the school I couldn't seem to turn down and always seemed to get in my way. I enjoyed the classes I sat in on as a prospective student, the Bowdoin students I met were friendly and helpful, I had teachers and friends who were Bowdoin alums who couldn't seem to stop talking about the school, and the basketball program seemed to fit my needs. Even though I didn't know if the school size or town setting was what I wanted, I committed myself to make the best of both, and I am thrilled that I ended up making a great choice during that agonizing April of my senior year of high school.

Why did you choose you major?
I came to Bowdoin pretty frustrated with the state of the environment and searching for a way to have a positive influence on the environment and to help those affected most by poor environmental conditions. I took my first Environmental Studies course with a trio of great professors and my fears and hopes were both confirmed - the state of the environment wasn't great, but there were things that I could do to help improve that condition. I saw politics and economics as important tools for making such changes, though I find both to be fascinating for many other reasons as well. The more I learn about and work in the environmental scene, the less certain I become about how I can contribute positively to the environmental movement. I'm sorting this out in my job search this year.

What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
I've had a lot of great courses that have taught me to see the world in different ways. Perhaps "Liberalism and its Critics," a government theory class with Professor Paul Franco, was my favorite. We read Edmund Burke, Tocqueville, J.S. Mill, Marx, and Nietzsche, among others. I discovered in this course my love for studying theory and philosophy, and I especially appreciated how I was forced to question my personal assumptions about our own state and critique liberalism from multiple angles.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I have had the opportunity to play basketball for four years at Bowdoin. Each year has been a wonderful experience in a slightly different way. Fun, commitment, success, and outstanding fan support have become standard parts of every season.

I also worked to start up the Organic Garden with the Organic Garden Club in 2003. The garden, now finishing its second season, has been a great success as a result of the hard work of many students and the support and advice of Bowdoin staff. This combination of initiative and commitment by students and staff is an attribute that makes Bowdoin a wonderful place to go to school.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I studied in Salamanca, Spain, over the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at Bowdoin. I loved living with a host-mother and learning to appreciate the culture of the Spanish interior - especially the incredible variety of pig parts they use in their cooking. I found Salamanca particularly fascinating because of the huge cultural and political gap between generations that I witnessed on the streets every day. While the elder members of the population had lived through the Spanish Civil War and spent the majority of their lives under Francisco Franco, the younger generation has rebelled against everything that Franco represented and created the Spain that we see on television today, protesting the war in Iraq and fighting for a somewhat socialist agenda.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
Sharing potlucks with friends, time spent on Kent Island with my pre-orientation group, and celebrating NESCAC championships with my teammates have to be some of the sweetest.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I'm planning to take off into the wilderness like the main character in Into The Wild...though his experience didn't work out so well for him, so I'm thinking of heading to the Career Planning Center soon to come up with a good back-up. I'm also accepting offers if anyone reads this and thinks I might be able to add something to their workplace for a couple of years before graduate school.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Everyone deserves to experience a place like Bowdoin for four years. Whether you're from a large city or a rural community, Bowdoin has something worthwhile to offer you, and you probably have something great to offer Bowdoin. It is that kind of a place. The Bowdoin community runs on student energy - the faculty helps to develop this energy with its teaching skill, while the staff gives students the opportunity to focus the energy on activities beyond academics, such as community service, performing arts, or athletics. There is little that this school doesn't offer, but if you find something lacking, you will probably have an opportunity to see the hole filled during your time here, like I have with the Organic Garden, or other students have within affairs as wide ranging as yoga to musical groups. If you're looking to experience liberal arts at its finest - meaning that you crave to understand the world and yourself in new ways and want to enjoy this journey - then Bowdoin could probably be a great place for you.

Story posted on November 28, 2005

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