Hometown: Stockton, California
Major: Architectural Studies (self-designed), with a minor in Visual Arts
Why did you come to Bowdoin?
I have grandparents who are from western Massachusetts, and so we would vacation here every other summer - here being the east coast - and I loved New England from what I saw of it. I always knew that I wanted to be on the east coast for college. The whole University of California system was really not my cup of tea. It was too big. So my senior year I came and did a whole two-week tour of colleges, and when I came to Bowdoin I knew this was the place. I'm a swimmer, and so I met the swim coach and really liked him. I loved all the architectural diversity on campus, and it was fall, so it was beautiful.
How did you decide on your major?
I became interested in architecture my junior year of high school. We had a really great drafting/architecture program.
My freshmen seminar [at Bowdoin] was called The Architecture of College Campuses, and it was a really neat way to learn about the diversity of campuses across New England and the country, and I realized that architecture could be studied here. Then that spring, I took an architectural design class, and through the years, I made connections with an architectural historian on campus [Visiting Assistant Professor Jill Pearlman], and then an architect on campus [Adjunct Lecturer in Art Christopher C. Glass]. Creating my own major seemed like the ideal way to cross-list with a lot of different departments and make it one major. It worked out really well because I was able to do math and physics, but also design, architectural history and Environmental Studies. The major mixes sustainable design with actual engineering.
My visual arts minor - I originally started out knowing that I would need freehand drawing for architecture. Then when I was flipping through the course catalog trying to figure out what was going to go into my major, there were way too many classes that could have fit into what I was proposing. So I decided I was going to do my architecture major minus the visual arts component of it, and then supplement my major with the visual arts, because otherwise there would have been too many classes [in the major].
What has been your favorite class at Bowdoin?
I've loved the classes I've taken in the Education Department. I thought Education and Biography was terrific. I think it's really neat to learn, through the department, about Title IX and about how curriculums are made, and to be able to academically reflect on the experiences that you've come from and how those vary significantly from person to person.
I also really enjoyed my independent study this semester, [for which I sat] on the Maine Street Station Steering Committee. [Maine Street Station is] the site between [the] McLellan [Building] and Hannaford [Supermarket]. [My independent study] stemmed from a class last semester [for which] our final project was to design a train station for that site. Then,[early this semester,] the town of Brunswick created the committee, created a request for proposal, and sent the request for proposal to architecture firms. My independent study consisted of being the student representative for the College and sitting on that committee with all the town planners.
On campus, I created informational sessions to open the project to students and let them discuss what they thought would be good. We also had a student forum where the architects who were hired came and talked to students. We also had these information sessions going on every other Thursday, where students gave input and heard about the history of the site and what town residents would like to see happen there. An additional component was to design my reaction to the site - so I did a site plan and a train station and played around with other things that could go on the site.
[The independent study] was like service learning in a way. It was nice to feel like an active participant in something that's going to make a difference, and I think it's a great testament to the link at Bowdoin between the town and faculty and students.
Have you done any other independent studies?
I did another independent study last year with Ben Smith '06. In light of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art beginning renovation, he and I did an independent study on the museum as an [institution] in society. So we did a historical analysis of what museums typically are, how they're founded, how they were initially accepted into society, and who would go to them. Then we started looking at what role museums play on college campuses, and then we started looking specifically at our Museum. So we did a lot of historical research on McKim, Mead, and White, who were the architects, and then we did our own redesign - our reaction to the Museum's request for proposal.
What extracurricular activities do you participate in? Do you have an on campus job?
The biggest thing of my four years is that I was a member of the women's varsity swim team. I really, really enjoyed that [experience] and got a lot out of it.
I came to Bowdoin having experience playing water polo. When I got here, there was only a co-ed club team in the fall, so my junior year, I founded the women's water polo team, and we competed in the spring against a lot of other schools.
I've worked for the Office of Annual Giving for the past four years and I love it, and I also work with Alumni Relations as a Reunion Weekend and Homecoming student ambassador. And I was a tour guide.
I'm also president of the architecture club on campus, Bowdoin Architects and Designers. All our lectures are called BAD Conversations - we like to play on [the name] to see who we can draw. We had an Australian architect come in the fall who was amazing. We had an architect and a developer based in Pittsburgh give a lecture. Next year, Habitat for Humanity is [starting] again, so BAD will probably do some build days and help do designs for those. We get a lot of people to sit on building committees or steering committees, so two people were sitting on the Freshman Dorm Committee, two people were sitting on the Library Committee, and one person is sitting on the new Performing Arts Committee for the [planned] music center at [the College].
I'm also an intern for YALP, the Young Alumni Leadership Program.
What is your best Bowdoin memory?
Because I was drawn to Bowdoin for its community aspects, a lot of the things that I'm going to remember are about how that community came together. I've been fortunate, through YALP and the alumni offices, to have been able to go to a lot of trustee dinners and work Homecoming and Reunion Weekend. I think the interactions we can have with alumni while we're still students are really neat. You're always going to be able to find help from a Bowdoin alum and you're always going to come back and have the same fond memories of the College.
[Some] male alums are really upset that the college turned co-ed in the seventies. I remember I was driving one male alum around in a golf cart showing him his old frat house and he [said], "You know, I was really upset when Bowdoin made that decision, but after meeting you, it was the best decision the College ever made." So [I appreciate] that people take the time to see how the College is changing and really accept it for what it is and continue to support it.
Additionally, for the past couple of years I've been co-race director of the Iron Bear Triathlon with Will Thomas '03. This year, the race had almost 400 [participants]. [I appreciated] seeing the outpouring of interest in it. Things like that, where you can interact with a greater body than Bowdoin students - those are going to be the things that I remember the most. Obviously, you're going to remember the little secrets that you have with friends, but I think that everyone always feels special when they're part of something bigger.
What are your plans after graduation?
I will be interning at an architecture firm in Paris for the next year. My mom was born in France, so I'm a French citizen because of that. I'm hoping to leave in the fall and then I'll probably be there until August. The plan is to do that for a year and then come back here and do grad school in architecture if I'm still interested in it.
What advice would you give to a first-year student about the Bowdoin experience?
At our freshman convocation, I remember [President] Barry Mills saying, "I challenge you to get to know two professors really well in your first semester or your first year here." I think that was the best advice ever. You think of Bowdoin with no architecture program, but looking back at my resume and talking to people about architecture, I've been able to do some phenomenal things at Bowdoin because of making connections early on with professors. I think that every student at Bowdoin finds that. I think that meeting professors in their office hours, even if you have nothing academically to talk about, is really cool and something that you can't get anywhere else.