Student Profiles

Sara Schlotterbeck '08

Sara Schlotterbeck

Sara Schlotterbeck '08

Hometown: Holliston, Massachusetts
Majors: Gender and Women's Studies and French
Minor: Government and Legal Studies

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I liked the feel of the campus; there was a good atmosphere. Talking to students, I thought, "I can be friends with these people; I can be happy here." What set Bowdoin apart for me was a trip to Popham Beach when I was visiting right before I applied. It was in the fall and it was beautiful, just perfect. I wanted to be near that.

Why did you choose your major?
I started off my first year taking courses that interested me and fell into the subjects that caught my interest, ending up with a double major in French and Gender and Women's Studies and a minor in Government and Legal Studies.

I was very happy to find an engaging French department, started taking literature classes, and never stopped. Resistance, Revolt, and Revolution with Professor Bill Vanderwolk was a highlight. Studying abroad in Senegal gave me an extra push towards the major.

Professor Shelley Deane's Middle East Politics course was the first government class that I took, and the reason that I chose to pursue the minor.

I have loved being a Gender and Women's Studies major because it has allowed me to take courses in different disciplines, like Romantic Sexualities, which was also an English and Gay and Lesbian Studies course, and Bearing the Untold Story: Gender, Race and Ethnicity in the United States, which was cross-listed with Africana Studies and History. The professors are great, and it is a very strong major and department.

My majors haven't prevented me from taking other classes. My first year I took two Geology classes, which I loved, and Introductory Biology last semester.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
Along with the courses I mentioned earlier, Introduction to Poetry with Professor Peter Coviello was one of the most rewarding classes I've ever taken. Learning how to read poetry opened up a new world to me.

Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
I'm currently doing an independent study with Professor Karen Lindo on Sony Labou Tansi's novel La Vie et Demie. I'm looking at the ways in which the author uses bodily fluids and fluidity in constructions of power throughout the novel.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I stayed busy, especially as an underclassman, with activist, political and community service groups. Meredith Segal '08 and I founded Bowdoin Students for Peace the winter of our freshman year because we found that, with a war going on, we needed an anti-war presence on campus. The group has developed over the past few years into something of which we are very proud.

I have also been closely involved with the College Democrats and Democratic Left, as well as the Community Service Council, Hillel, Bowdoin Women's Association, Habitat for Humanity and the Oasis Clinic (they are amazing). There are plenty of opportunities to be involved on campus and in the broader community, and if you see potential for a group that needs to be created, a service project or a campaign that needs to be run, Bowdoin is a great place to do it.

As far as work experience goes, this is the first year that I haven't worked for Dining Service, and I do miss it. I had great experiences doing salad bar prep and as a card-swiper at Supersnack (our weekend late-night snack at the dining hall, not to be missed) and can't say enough about how fantastic the people who work in dining are. Bowdoin students are very lucky that the food we eat is made with love.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
Yes. I spent my junior year in Senegal on a UW-Madison program. We spent the first month in Dakar, and the next eight months at Université Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis. I lived in the dorms, took classes, traveled a little, talked a lot, made friends, went to the beach, learned some Wolof and improved my French. My experience studying abroad was one of the most important things I've done in my life, and you can't beat the perspective it provides. Visit my blog at

What have you done during your summers?
I spent the summer after freshman year working at a restaurant where I had worked in high school. The summer after sophomore year I spent at Bowdoin as a Community Matters in Maine Summer Fellow working at the Oasis Health Center. The Oasis Health Center is a free clinic that provides quality healthcare to eligible uninsured adults in the area, and I worked specifically with their Prescription Assistance Program, which assists both patients of the clinic and patients of providers in the area in obtaining free or low-cost prescriptions through pharmaceutical company programs. Working at Oasis has been a formative experience for me and taught me the challenges and vital importance of providing quality healthcare to everybody, along with teaching me a lot about myself. I worked for them for a month this past summer after returning from Senegal in July, and every week since then.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
My best memories, of course, are of time spent with people whom I've met here, my friends whom I love so much, people I know very well and not so well, professors, classmates and coworkers. Bowdoin draws good people together.

I'll never forget going to Popham Beach during the fall of my freshman year with Polar Bear Club, on a starry night with the water full of phosphorescence and being the only one in a bathing suit... Nor will I forget jumping into the icy (literally, there were chunks of ice) ocean recently with my friends on an equally starry, but much colder, night. Being part of the Third Wave Women's Surf Clinics has been another ocean-related source of joy for me.

I also have had some great dinners this year with my roommates and also with a group of friends and our French professor Charlotte Daniels.

I've spent a lot of time in local coffee shops: The Station, Bohemian, and Little Dog. Great conversations, even revolutionary conversations, have taken place there. But just sitting with friends, studying, enjoying each other's presence is probably my favorite thing to do.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I hope to be working in the health field for the next year or two, and exploring my options while continuing to learn as much as I can.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Spend a summer at Bowdoin, study abroad, do your reading, go to the ocean, get involved, and fully appreciate all the resources you have here, especially the people.

What quirky or fun thing did you wish you knew before you came to Bowdoin?
Our mascot the polar bear is an excellent source of unbearably painful puns.

Story posted on February 22, 2008

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