Major: Biology; minor: Film Studies
Hometown: Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I originally didn't even want to consider going to Bowdoin. I have lived in Maine my entire life, and I wanted to go out into the world. I originally planned to head someplace else in New England or California. However, after visiting all the colleges that garnered my interest, Bowdoin stuck out. Every school I considered offered a stellar education, so what became more important in my decision was the environment and people I would be living with for four years. The students at Bowdoin stood out above the rest. They were by far and away the friendliest. In a way my decision was based on gut instinct. I felt that at Bowdoin I would meet a fantastic array of people who would challenge and enlighten me in their own way, all the while being the most spirited students I met at any school. Staying in Maine hasn't bothered me either—it's a great state.
Why did you choose your major?
A problem I had is that Bowdoin lacks a film major, the course of study I wanted to do. The College does have a film studies minor, but it covers theory only, and my particular passion is filmmaking. I toyed with the idea of designing my own major, but again, it would have lacked actual filmmaking. My first year I tried classes in seven different areas of study, hunting for a possible major, but finding none that I felt strongly about pursuing. However, I've always enjoyed science, so during my sophomore year, I decided to start the biology major and a film studies minor in addition to completing pre-med requirements.
What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
At about the same time I was in a frantic hunt for a major sophomore year, I took the course Evolution with Professor Mike Palopoli in the biology department. Perhaps it was because I felt lost at the time, but I felt I was actually learning answers to life, the universe, and everything. I constantly found myself saying, "Wow, so that's why...." Studying the amazing process of evolution and learning about the sheer struggle of life forms to survive was immensely rewarding and helped me think in new ways about the world. The class also focused my interests in the sciences, and I have since taken Molecular Evolution and Evolutionary Developmental Biology.
What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
During my junior year, I took the course Advanced Fiction Workshop with then-Writer-in-Residence Margot Livesey. Developing one's writing is a journey lasting much longer than one semester, but looking back, we covered an extensive assortment of techniques and tools writers use to mature their voice and stories. Livesey reawakened my lost love of writing creative fiction, sharpened every implement in my writer's toolbox, and introduced me to new ones. She helped me gain new perspective on the craft that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Listening to her wonderful Scottish accent every week was a pleasure, too.
What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I've found the extracurricular opportunities at the College to be as rewarding as the classes. In fact, like many Bowdoin students, I overcommitted myself to them, and by the end of sophomore year, I dropped out of all my athletic extracurriculars—crew, JV soccer, and dodgeball—in order to prioritize what mattered most. This left time to pursue my musical and cinematic interests and work on the Entertainment Board (E-Board). However, I still enjoy the occasional soccer game and appreciate using the new Buck Center for Health and Fitness.
The E-Board is responsible for booking a wide variety of entertainment for students, spending well over $100,000 throughout the course of the year. I've learned how to edit and negotiate contracts and organize and execute very large events from start to finish, providing me with excellent, real-world business experience. It's also fun to be backstage at the events and meet the performers who come through here, taking pleasure in knowing that you're partly responsible for all the smiling faces in the crowd. I have been on the E-Board for four years, serving as an officer initially and for the past two years as a co-chair or co-president. My junior year I was lucky enough to be elected E-Board representative on Bowdoin Student Government (BSG). Joining BSG allowed me to participate in discussions and acts that were highly pertinent to student life and school policy. Even though I'm no longer active in it, it's comforting to know that such an organization exists and is run by hard-working students who want to make Bowdoin an even better experience for everyone by engaging with campus issues.
The Bowdoin Film Society is my other major extracurricular commitment, and partially, my baby. During my first year I helped aid in the reinvigoration of the society's filmmaking component and campus initiatives. I'm currently president of the society, and I've been working hard to make the Film Society—and film in general—more of a presence on campus. We screen movies on campus or in the community every weekend, run two film festivals per year, hold multiple other events, and try to generally support everything having to do with film and filmmaking on campus. We keep growing larger, and hopefully, one day soon, we'll convince the administration that film deserves its rightful place as a major at Bowdoin. There is an awesome group of people in the society, and making films with friends is an unbelievably rewarding experience. [Watch A Drop of Water, Lucas's entry in Bowdoin's Climate Days video competition.]
Finally, I've played trombone in multiple student bands. These days you can usually catch me playing it, or my bagpipes, in the Pep Band at hockey and basketball games.
What have you done during your summers?
Until junior year I was working at a small seafood place in my hometown called the Lobster Shack. I generally cooked, but also threw pottery occasionally for the gift shop next door. One year I got a part-time job building a large, rock wall.
Tired of lobsters and hard labor, I investigated getting a research fellowship at Bowdoin. I was fortunate and received a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which allowed me to live on campus for 10 weeks over the summer and pursue research with a faculty member. I worked with Professor Peter Woodruff and Tamlyn Frederick '09 on a bioremediation project that Tamlyn had begun, and which I am continuing as an honors project. The research is in genetic engineering, and I'm attempting to insert a gene into the bacteria Bacillus subtilis that will allow it to produce the sugar trehalose. Trehalose makes the bacteria hardier, and the altered bacteria could become an efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly means to detoxify groundwater contaminated with hexavalent chromium.
What is your best Bowdoin memory?
Living with friends and enjoying my summer at Bowdoin before the start of senior year was a short, wonderful span of time. Even though it was incredibly rainy that year, the summer was immensely fulfilling. Between cookouts, going to Six Flags, constructing a giant slip-and-slide, the beach, sailing on Bar Harbor, and so many more things, it was probably the best summer ever.
What are your plans for after graduation?
My plans after graduation are in flux. I currently have some applications and submissions out for film grants and to film festivals—perhaps something will come of those. I will likely take any graduate tests over the summer that I may need in my future while my academic knowledge is fresh, and I plan to apply for some national scholarships as well. After that, I'm going to take some time off and backpack through Europe with friends. I've decided I need art and creativity in my life, so I'll be out doing things and working with my hands, creating things. The sciences will have to sit on the backburner while I try to break into the film industry.
What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
You're told it doesn't matter whether you know what you want to study, but I don't believe that. Come into Bowdoin with a serious academic plan and a backup. If you have in mind a science major and want to complete pre-med requirements, start taking the necessary classes in your very first semester. Don't try to complete requirements with classes that you're not interested in. Be patient, make a list of professors that you hear are amazing and take their classes, even if they're twice the work. Take something that fosters creativity: visual art, theater, writing, etc. Invest your time and tuition wisely.
Outside of class, get out and do something every chance you get. There is way too much that takes place on campus to even keep track of, and you only have four fast years to take advantage of the College. Go to plays, concerts, pub night, the Art Museum, student films, improv shows, interesting science lectures, and Common Hour. Go polar bearing or on an Alternative Spring Break trip, lose your voice at the Colby-Bowdoin hockey game, have lunch with professors, explore Maine, mentor local schoolchildren, and listen to Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols tell a story. The rewards of a Bowdoin education are just as often found outside the classroom as in it.
What quirky or fun thing do you wish you had known before you came to Bowdoin?
I wish I had known my friends before I came to Bowdoin—they're all fun, fairly quirky things. (Now cue the music. Cut, print, that's a wrap.)