Student Profiles

Terrence K. Pleasant Jr. '09


Terrence K. Pleasant Jr. '09

Terrance Pleasant

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I chose to come to Bowdoin because it was similar to my high school in so many ways and also different in other ways. Bowdoin is similar to my high school in the way that the class sizes are smaller, ensuring the student to faculty ratio remains small as well. Ultimately, this reassured me that I would not simply be an ID number but would be distinguished and recognized on a personal level from other students. Additionally, I was attracted to Bowdoin because, unlike my high school, there was less academic competition between students and people were more willing to help each other out.

Why did you choose your major?
Coming from a family with a history of Alzheimer's disease, I decided as a senior in high school that I wanted to pursue an academic career that would provide me with a better understanding of this debilitating disease. During my second visit to Bowdoin for the Bowdoin Experience Weekend, I met two professors in the Neuroscience Program: Seth Ramus and Patsy Dickinson. I was intrigued by the possibility of working closely with faculty members to conduct new and innovative work. They also told me about the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant that the department receives to support and encourage under-represented groups to pursue a career in the biological sciences. I chose to pursue neuroscience as my major ultimately because of the combination of my personal interest and being intrigued by the research opportunities here at Bowdoin.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
I especially enjoyed Improvisation with Gretchen Berg in the Department of Theater and Dance. One of my most memorable moments was when our class implemented "The Happening" in the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library. The goal of the assignment was to disrupt the daily, quiet affairs of the library. So, as a class we built tents in the middle of the floor, yelled, played board games, knocked over books and created other disruptive activities. It was amazing to see other students, who had no idea of what was "Happening," react. Being able to challenge the structures of normalcy in a classroom environment was a great experience.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
Professor Seth Ramus in the psychology and neuroscience departments has inspired me throughout my Bowdoin career. As I mentioned before, I met Professor Ramus during my second visit to Bowdoin. He has helped me in a plethora of ways including, but not limited to, obtaining two summer internships at the National Institutes of Health and providing guidance during course selection periods. And he has been pivotal in strengthening my scientific writing. Professor Ramus also afforded me the opportunity to do an Honors Project where we examine the role of the hippocampus in "episodic-like" memory in rats. I am extremely grateful for having the privilege to work with Professor Ramus throughout my Bowdoin career. Additionally, the entire neuroscience faculty has presented me a challenging experience that has made me a better scientist.

Also, although I've never personally taken a class with him, Professor Olufemi Vaughan of the Africana Studies Program has been extremely supportive throughout my last year at Bowdoin.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
Throughout my time here, I have served as one of the vice presidents of the African American Society (AF-AM), one of the house managers for the John Brown Russwurm Center, and as a Baldwin Program science mentor. The dual role of vice president and house manager for the AF-AM has been a challenging yet rewarding experience. I have enjoyed serving and representing a group of energized young people who are deeply committed and engaged in the history and heritage of blacks on this campus and beyond. My positions in the AF-AM have allowed me to work closely with the senior administration to revitalize and renovate the Russwurm Center. It has been a lot of fun and goes down in the books as one of my proudest accomplishments.

My work as Baldwin Center mentor has also been a great experience. I relish the fact that I am able to help students improve their study strategies, time management, and overall academic experience. Not only has the mentor program allowed me to help students, but it has also helped me to change and improve my own study habits.

What have you done during your summers?
I interned at the National Institutes of Health during my freshman and sophomore summers. As a junior researcher, I worked in the National Institute of Mental Health, where I examined memory in monkeys. Although my work was challenging and dangerous, it was also intellectually stimulating and amazing to see how smart monkeys were. I really enjoyed being pick-pocketed by the monkeys!

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
My most memorable experiences at Bowdoin have been at the Bowdoin Children's Center. I interned at the preschool for my Infant and Child Development psychology class. It was amazing to observe how the children's anxiety about me dissipated over the course of the semester. When I first arrived, one young girl asked me, "Who are you and why are you here?" After explaining that I was a volunteer and would be visiting often, the girl walked off abruptly and avoided eye contact with me for a few weeks. However, over the course of the semester, she warmed up to me and began to share stories about her family and her experiences at the child care center. This was one of the best experiences I have had at Bowdoin and I am grateful for it because it has taught me to become more patient (a necessity for an aspiring scientist/doctor).

What are your post-graduation plans?
I intend to work as a research technician in a laboratory before entering a medical scientist training program where I will pursue my M.D./Ph.D.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
I would encourage all of the first-year students to take advantage of the plethora of opportunities Bowdoin has to offer. Such opportunities include, but are not limited to, research, Career Planning, the Center for Learning and Teaching, and the fantastic faculty and staff.

Story posted on July 27, 2009

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