Robin Trangsrud '06

Robin Trangsrud

Robin Trangsrud '06

Hometown: Minnetonka, Minnesota
Major: Government, with a Comparative Politics Concentration; Minor: Spanish

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
My older siblings all went to small liberal arts colleges, so my image of college was always the liberal arts setting that my siblings had enthusiastically described. Although I considered playing Division I lacrosse, after visiting a few larger universities, I knew I wanted the more intimate academic environment of a liberal arts college. My motivation behind venturing from the Midwest out to Bowdoin was primarily academic, though the opportunity to enjoy Maine's outdoors, to play competitive Division III lacrosse, and to experience a culture outside of the Midwest also drew me towards Bowdoin. I didn't visit before I came, and I feel extremely lucky for the incredible experience I've had thus far!

Why did you choose you major?
Although my initial interest was in anthropology, after taking Henry Laurence's Introduction to Comparative Politics the spring of my first year, I knew I would be a government major. I was particularly attracted to comparative politics as it provides an interesting lens to examine different institutions within a country that lend to insight about the culture. My Spanish minor evolved as a continuation of the Spanish courses I took in high school. I'm not sure how it emerged, but I've always been fascinated by the music and culture of Latin America and wanted to become fluent in the language.

What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
I have never been as invested in a course as I was in my senior seminar, "Social Protest and Political Change" with Laura Henry. When I was a sophomore I was particularly inspired by Joe Bandy's course on "Globalization and Social Change." As my extracurricular and career interests became more focused in social justice issues, Laura's class provided intriguing theories behind the issues I became most passionate about. In a way, the course synthesized my academic and personal interests. It is interesting to look at the courses I have taken and think about how they have influenced my career interests and shaped my personal commitments.

Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
I spent the past summer conducting research through a Surdna Fellowship with Professor Allen Springer of the government department. I researched evolving norms of international environmental law and assisting him with part of his sabbatical research. My research evaluated two specific legal cases in the Plata Basin in South America and will contribute to his upcoming book. I am continuing the research this semester with an independent study, and I am very fortunate to be able to attend a conference on the management of the river basin in Argentina in November.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I came to Bowdoin with lacrosse as a high priority, but after an injury my sophomore year, and a desire to explore Bowdoin's opportunities beyond athletics, I started and coached Bowdoin's JV team and became invested in community service and advocating for social change. I have been part of a Global Justice, where I led fundraising events, helped raise awareness and assisted in attracting and publicizing speakers. I also co-coordinated a Bowdoin community-wide Conference on Poverty in America intended to facilitate dialogue and to inform students of careers in poverty relief. It was a week-long event including multiple Bowdoin departments, a service-learning course, alumni, Maine legislators, and national non-profit organizations. I also served as a Maine Civic Fellow in which I worked to encourage youth activism in civic life. I have held various jobs at Bowdoin, but for the past two years I have worked as the Common Hour intern where I assist in the research, marketing, and organization of the bi-weekly lecture series. I have loved playing intramural sports, spending time in the outdoors, and practicing yoga. The most valuable experience I have had outside of the classroom at Bowdoin, however, is my two years as a proctor and current year as an RA.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
I can't think of one specific memory at Bowdoin that is my favorite, but many of the best memories I've had has been spent "closing the dining halls." My friends and I created the expression, which is really just a short way of describing when you sit in a booth in Moulton or a table in Thorne immersed in great conversations and laughter for hours. Usually, the dining staff will eventually ask if you want anymore dessert, coffee, or tea, and you and your friends are completely oblivious to the fact that there is no one else left eating. It is a fantastic way to enjoy being at Bowdoin while simultaneously forgetting that you are there. The down side is that you always feel bad when the dining hall staff asks if you can take your tray, as you know their shift ends when you go home!

What are your plans for after graduation?
I would ideally like to spend a year or two teaching in Latin America or working at an NGO committed to poverty alleviation. The summer following my junior year, through the PICF grant, I worked at an NGO in the Guatemala City Dump and it was an experience that simultaneously frustrated and inspired me to work in international development. I intend to return to the States and, pending my experience abroad, pursue a degree in law and public health/public policy. I have quite a bit of schooling to go; I also would like to become a yoga instructor.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
In my high school yearbook, I'm quoted for following Morgan Freeman's advice, "Get busy living, or get busy dying." Going to Bowdoin is an incredible opportunity to fulfill that objective, and while I still adhere to it, I suggest following it with caution. The extracurricular activities in which you involve yourself can shape your development as much as your academic curriculum. But don't stretch yourself too thin! Know that the relationships you develop with people and professors are what will make you love this place. The resources that exist at Bowdoin continuously amaze me, and when you invest in this community you will gain back more than you ever could have imagined.

Story posted on October 13, 2005

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