Matt Lajoie '05

Matt Lajoie '05

Hometown: Van Buren, Maine
Major: English, with a minor in Film Studies

Why did you come to Bowdoin?
I'm from a small town in northern Maine and I went to a small high school, so I knew I didn't want to go to a big university, and I didn't want to go too far out of state. When I was going into my junior year of high school, I came with my brother to [look at] colleges, and when we came to Bowdoin we both said, "Wow, this feels right." I also had some friends from my high school who did the Upward Bound program here for a couple summers and they were always saying how much they liked Bowdoin.

Why did you decide on your major?
It took me a little while to figure out what I wanted to do. When I came here, I thought I was going to be an economics major, and I took microeconomics and macroeconomics, but after I took the two of those, I realized I didn't really want to do much more of that. I guess I was looking through the course catalog and it turned out that most of the classes I wanted to take were English classes. I started thinking about what I wanted to do after [graduation], and I always came back to writing. I've always wanted to be a writer since I was really young and so I thought that the English major made the most sense.

What has been your best class at Bowdoin?
The spring semester of my sophomore year, I took a class in the film department that was called Experimental Film and Video. Somehow, the College had gotten this grant to get all these very rare prints of Andy Warhol, Stan Brackage - these incredible, rare films. We would just sit and watch them, and now I can't look at films the same way. That was one of the reasons I started taking more film classes. To think that I was seeing these films at Bowdoin that were stored away in archives in the Museum of Modern Art...I don't think I would have had a chance to see them otherwise.

Last year I took Performance Art [in the theater department]. That was incredible because it was the first class that I'd taken at Bowdoin where I was able to be constantly creative every class. The professor was Gretchen Berg, and she's incredible, always pushing us to be creative and do things that were out of the ordinary.

What extracurriculars do you participate in? What do you like about them?
Well, I'm a Student Assistant at the library, and I'm also a Writing Assistant with the Writing Project and on the Campus Activities Board. I also contribute to two independently run student publications on campus, No Reply and the WBOR Zine.

I'm also a music director at the campus radio station, WBOR, and I have a radio show. I really like the concept of independent college radio, because where I'm from we only get the nationally syndicated Top-40 pop radio, and it gets really annoying and tedious. I like the idea of having this independent station right here where I can learn about new music constantly. We get 75 new CDs every week [in the mail], and we get to listen to all of them. There's just a constant influx of new music coming to us.

And I'm in a band. We formed at Bowdoin - it's Mirza Ramic ['05], and my brother Chris ['04], Brunswick native Max Heinz, and Mirza's high school friend, Max Lewis. We formed at Bowdoin, played many of our first shows at Bowdoin, recorded our first CD at the recording studio at WBOR, and had our CD release party in Jack Magee's Pub [in the Student Union], so our band is very wrapped up in Bowdoin.

Over the summer and for the past few months, we've been performing outside of Bowdoin a lot. We've played in Portland a few times, and few shows in New Hampshire, a couple shows in Boston, and we played a show in Providence. And we have a show in New York City coming up at Arlene's Grocery over Thanksgiving break - it's on Saturday night, the 27th of November. We also have a show coming up at the Middle East in Boston. We actually recorded a new three-song demo CD that we sent out to about 50 small record labels. We're still waiting to hear from a lot of them, but we're just going to wait, see where it goes and keep playing shows.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
During the spring semester of my sophomore year I joined the World Music Ensemble [at Bowdoin], and in May we were asked to perform at the docking of the Freedom Schooner Amistad (a re-creation of the slave ship L'Amistad) in Portland. We were leading a procession through the streets of downtown Portland, banging drums, clapping and singing, with Portland residents and local camera crews lining the streets and joining in with us. It felt like a mini-Carnival right there on Exchange Street. By the end we had walked for miles and were exhausted, but it was just such an amazing and inspiring thing to be a part of.

What are your plans after graduation?
That's such a scary question. There are a few things that I'm thinking about and hopefully I'll take next semester to really figure out what I want to do. Right now I'd like to hope that the band could continue for a bit. I want to see how that can go for maybe a year or so, see if anything happens. And if not, then I'll start getting serious about a real job. I figure if I don't do the whole "band thing" now, I'm going to be 45 and bitter that I never gave it a shot.

Ideally I'd like to write. I'd always keep working in radio as an option. Working at the station gave me a lot of experience.

My parents are both elementary school teachers, my sister is going to school to be an elementary school teacher, and my brother right now is at Woodside School [in Topsham, Maine] - he's a special ed tech - so it's almost inevitable that I would go into teaching at some point. That's of course always an option. I've taught summer school in my town for the past few summers.

Is there anything else about Bowdoin or your experiences here that you'd like a prospective student to know?
Really take advantage of the "liberal-artsness" of this school. It's okay to not know what you want to do: I came in here thinking I wanted to major in economics and minor in education, and now I'm an English major with a film studies minor. Change your mind; try everything. This is the time and the place to do it. Also, no matter what your passion is, chances are you'll find opportunities to do it here. For example, right now I'm working on a soundtrack to a horror movie that some Bowdoin students wrote, directed, and filmed on their own, right here at Bowdoin. If you have a passion to be creative, anything's a possibility.

Story posted on November 18, 2004

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