Mónica Guzmán '05

Mónica Guzmán '05

Hometown: Somersworth, New Hampshire
Major: Sociology, with a minor in Film Studies

Why did you come to Bowdoin?
I loved the size, the quality of education, the traditional feel, and the kind of unsung grandness that came out even in the Viewbook. After just one visit, which lasted about a half hour since it was rainy and cold and Dad and I had already seen all we needed to see, I was hooked and applied Early Decision.

How did you decide on your major?
Oh, this was fun. I walked into Bio 105 - an intro to bio lab - my first semester of my first year with only a few doubts that this was my calling. Reality struck when I realized what a klutz I was in lab and that there was no way I could handle actual test-tube-and-Bunsen-burner research. Then I followed psych for a while, which was fine - until I took Sociology 101 my sophomore year. Before that class, I wasn't even sure what sociology was, but it became pretty clear that it basically summed up all the stuff I'm really passionate about. I haven't looked back since.

What has been your favorite class at Bowdoin?
Any and all classes with Film Professor Tricia Welsch, hands down. Film Studies at Bowdoin is not a big department, but it might as well be with her at the helm. If I had it my way, all students would be required to take at least one of her classes. No joke. I've taken Film History I and II and a class called Images of America in Film with her. She stuffs so much interesting information into her lectures that you have to wonder how it's possible that there's still so much time for everyone in the class - all 50+ of us - to discuss it all. Time flew by in those courses against my will. And let's just say they didn't complicate my decision to minor in Film Studies.

What extracurricular activities do you participate in? Do you have an on campus job?
I'm Senior Editor of the Bowdoin Orient, the independent student-run newspaper and the oldest continuously published [college] weekly in the U.S., where I also write a weekly film review column and contribute other stories. It's long hours, hard work, and extremely rewarding. Somewhere around 1:30 a.m. we start playing Mad Libs with the stubborn headlines on the front page. I'm a stickler for perfection and something of an unofficial typo fiend, notorious, I guess, for sending our section editors back to their layout to reprint their pages at 2:30 in the morning - just when they thought it was safe to put on their jackets and head for the door.

I am also a paid Writing Assistant for the Bowdoin College Writing Project, which I love, and hold a job projecting movies for the film department. In town, I work at our local independent theater, the Eveningstar Cinema. It's fun to hold the actual stuff of movies in your hands, thread it through the machines, turn down the lights in the theater and watch the magic happen. It makes you look at film in a different way to be on the other side of the projectors.

Have you studied abroad?
My junior year was one of the best of my life. In the fall, I went to Madrid, Spain, with a program called IES. Since I was already fluent in the language, they let me take three courses at the local university (150,000 students!). One was a politics course, and two were in sociology - including a particularly eye-opening one called Sociology of International Inequality. At the English Lancaster University in the spring, where I enrolled directly as an international student, I took three more sociology courses - one about consumer culture, another on global media, and a third on "information cultures" (the sociology of such things as the internet, artificial intelligence, and cell phones). I also took a course in French cinema and one on political propaganda with this wacky professor who had an even wackier accent. Sociology is taken far more seriously in Europe, so taking those courses gave me valuable perspectives I couldn't really get in the U.S. I traveled as much as I could while I was over there. I'm a big advocate of the whole process: The way I see it, you wouldn't need a really good reason to study abroad. You'd need a really good reason not to.

Have you done any independent studies?
I'm doing two independent studies right now - one, a project analyzing the semiotics of news talk shows on CNN, Fox News, and PBS, is with [Professor] Kirk Johnson in Sociology. The other is a screenwriting project for the Film Studies Department with Tricia Welsch.

What's your best Bowdoin memory?
Oh boy. There have been a lot of good times, but I'd still have to go with my first week of freshman year up in the fourth floor of Moore (the BEST first-year dorm). It was a whirlwind of new people, perspectives, and possibilities. I'll never forget it.

What are your plans after graduation?
I've wanted to go into journalism since freshman year, and have interned in the summers to get acquainted with the field. After graduation, I'm attending a six-week seminar at the Poynter Institute for Journalism in Florida. In August I'll be moving to Texas to begin a two-year fellowship with Hearst Newspapers, which owns 12 newspapers across the country, including the Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Chronicle. As a fellow, I'll work as a reporter at three of their papers for eight months each. (Yes, this is the same "Hearst" who invented yellow journalism 100 years ago whom my idol Orson Welles ridiculed with brilliance in my favorite movie of all time - Citizen Kane.) After that, I plan to work a couple more years as a reporter or magazine journalist and then get my masters in journalism.

What's the one thing you think a Bowdoin student has to do/has to see before he or she graduates?
Ummm...one thing...well, if you're not from around here, make sure you at least familiarize yourself with the lobster cracking process, whether you eat the succulent beauties or not. And don't forget the plastic lobster bibs. But no - what everyone really needs to do is pick a warm autumn night when the leaves are starting to fall, spend about an hour walking through the "whispering pines" around campus, then sit for a while on the lit-up steps of the Walker Art Building [Museum of Art] overlooking the Quad. There's nothing quite like it.

Story posted on April 15, 2005

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