Alumni and Careers

Education alumni reflect on their most memorable Bowdoin experiences and lessons and tell about their current careers in all corners of the country!
Kristin Bishop

Kristin Bishop

Class of: 2018

Kristin Bishop is from Madison, Maine, and now works in Washington DC.

What is a memorable academic experience at Bowdoin?

In spring 2017, Kristin Bishop embarked on an independent study with Professor Sarah Jessen asking, "What is the state of civic education in the US?” To answer this question, Bishop conducted two investigations: first, research "to uncover national policies and laws surrounding civic education in public schools [with] a particular focus on Maine," Bishop explains, and second, "volunteering and teaching directly in the classroom." (Read the article "Voices in the Classroom: American Civics Education" for more.)

Hayley Nicholas

Hayley Nicholas

Class of: 2017

Major(s): Sociology

Minor(s): Education

Now works in: Amherst College, as the Assistant Dean of Admission.

What was a memorable academic experience at Bowdoin?

Nicholas returned from abroad inspired to investigate American education, and the gaps therein. Her independent study focuses on "textbooks and how they are constructed, because they are seemingly objective," she says, and because they are often students' only source of information. The subject Nicholas chose? The Black Power movement: it’s “not given its proper… the history in textbooks is not adequate. It’s very narrow, it’s one perspective.” (Read the article "Textbook Indoctrination: the High School History Version of Black Power" for more.)

Matt Bernstein

Matt Bernstein

Class of: 2013

Major(s): History

Minor(s): Education

Now works in: teaching humanities at Casco Bay High School.

What was your most memorable class at Bowdoin?

I took too many great classes to be able to pick just one, so I picked one from Education and one from History:

Adolescents in School, with Katie Byrnes

This class was really the moment where I fell in love with teaching and decided to pursue Bowdoin Teacher Scholars. We were paired up with a middle school student and would visit that student at school, operating in both an observational and mentorship role... I decided that I wanted further opportunities to get to know young people and to work closely with them in an academic setting. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about how adolescents learn. This course really pushed me to understand the importance of getting to know students as individuals who are unique in their strengths and needs. Through reading literature, through discussion with Professor Byrnes and other students, and through developing a portfolio in which I had to think critically about teaching and learning, I gained a deeper understanding of the complexities of adolescence and of working in the role of a teacher.

Topics in European History, with Dallas Denery

For the majority of the semester [in this course], I was able to dive deeply into a topic of choice - the power dynamic between Elizabeth I and Parliament. I think of this class often, not only because it taught me so much about historical research, but also because it provided me with the type of experience that I hope students in high school can find. I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to pursue an area of passion and to grapple with primary sources under the guidance of Professor Denery and I strive to offer students the opportunity to find their own passions and dive as deeply into those worlds as I was able to during this class.

What was one take-away from Bowdoin?

That there is always more to learn.

My lasting academic memories are of reading primary sources and participating in field placements in a variety of classrooms, including in the school where I still work. I learned through these experiences that we are never finished learning and growing and that there are always ways to deepen an understanding or hone a skill. Bowdoin provided me with an outstanding education, not just because I learned about European history or the role of music in protest movements or because I learned how to craft a lesson plan or write a thesis, but because it opened my eyes to the fact that all those things I learned were just the beginning. My professors always pushed me to ask more questions and research a little bit more. I’ve aimed to carry this love of learning, inquisitive mentality, and growth mindset approach with me as I’ve moved into teaching. 

"What aspects of culture, society, and communities cause divergent consequences in education development?"

Chanwoong Baek

Class of: 2012

Now works in: Chanwoong is a Ph.D. student in Comparative and International Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

What was your most memorable class at Bowdoin?

(EDUC 302) Student Teaching Practicum and (EDUC 304) Analysis of Teaching and Learning.

Since my first year at Bowdoin (after taking EDUC 101 with Professor Santoro, to be exact), I have always been interested in studying education policy and practice. It seems to me that the purposes and functions of education are perceived and practiced differently across countries. Why? What aspects of culture, society, and communities cause divergent consequences in education development? What hinders equitable access to education, and how can we resolve educational inequality in different countries and communities? ... Through Education Studies courses, I learned about the history, philosophy, organizational structure, and contemporary policy debates in American education and started to apply the knowledge at an international level. Additionally, the Teaching courses prepared me to be an educator through daily field placements, curriculum design, lesson planning, and community projects. In particular, my experience as a Bowdoin Teacher Scholar was invaluable in understanding the complex classroom dynamics. These courses along with independent research projects at Bowdoin inspired me to pursue my passion in teaching and education research. 

What was one take-away from Bowdoin?

Be true to who you are. Have faith in yourself.

Bowdoin faculty members were extremely supportive throughout my academic journey. One of the many aspects of Bowdoin that I greatly value is that many faculty members sincerely care about students’ learning experience. They challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone and explore different opportunities. Moreover, I was taught to critically think and reflect on my own learning. Professor Dorn, in particular, has been my mentor for years, and I have truly appreciated and benefited from his continuous encouragement, insightful perspectives, and constructive feedback. I am very grateful to Bowdoin for what I learned and whom I met. 

After graduation, I completed my master’s degree in International Comparative Education at Stanford University and then fulfilled my mandatory military service in Korea. Prior to my doctoral study, I worked at an educational policy research institution in Korea and examined the impact of various education policies within specific social, cultural, and institutional contexts. 

"Seek and revel in the rich and often challenging dialogue with your teachers."

Whitney Williams

Class of: 2010

Now works in: Mars Hill, Maine as a Junior High Science Teacher at Central Aroostook Junior High School.

What was your most memorable Bowdoin class?

Educating All Students with Professor Doris Santoro.

It was in this class that I first learned the necessity of examining each child closely, not just for understanding, but for possible hindrances to success. I still remember my case-study student and her untamable curly red hair. I have used the skills and understanding attained through my participant-observer experience numerous times since, both for formal referrals (i.e. IEPs, 504s, disciplinary referrals, etc.) and informal formative assessments. My Sherlock-esque observations continue to alter not only my teaching techniques, but my ability to provide students with necessary services to better accommodate their varied needs. 

What was one take-away from Bowdoin?

Reflecting upon my time at Bowdoin has only affirmed that it is our teachers who make and shape our memories. I am unable to quote W. E. B. Du Bois's Souls of Black Folks or John Dewey's Democracy and Education, but I remember discussing my future as an educator with Doris. I remember setting up water quality dataloggers with Professor Peter Lea and then determining non-point sources of pollution in the Androscoggin River. I even remember discussing tricky cues and transitions with Michael Schiff-Verre in the Theater department. My advice for all current Bowdoin students is to seek and revel in the rich and often challenging dialogue with your teachers, and to allow these meaningful exchanges to shape not only your memories, but who you become. 

Kayla Baker

Kayla Baker

Class of: 2009

Major(s): Economics

Minor(s): Education

Now works in: the Provost office at George Mason University--Kayla works on the business aspects of the university, like strategic goals and special projects.

What was your most memorable class at Bowdoin?

Education and Social Justice, with Doris Santoro.

In the Education & Social Justice course, we looked at different examples and forms of justice in the education space. My semester ended with a research project that focused on economic and social justice at Bowdoin; I provided information and a detailed analysis on Bowdoin’s past commitment to diversity...  I enjoyed the class because not only was I a Bowdoin student, but also, I was a woman of color at Bowdoin, making this informative history, my own history.... 

Through interviews with predominately Black academic institutions (prep schools, HBCUs, etc.), I realized that Black Americans, who have been historically (and currently) excluded from economic opportunity, will benefit from curriculums and pedagogies that inform and enforce economic stability and mobility. My study concluded with blueprint for a school with an economics-centered curriculum in economically distressed, Black communities. With Professor Santoro, I learned the meaning of economic justice. 

What was one take-away from Bowdoin?

To think critically about problems and solutions, while being flexible and open to change.

I graduated from Bowdoin and formally started my career on Wall Street, where I worked as a Jr. Portfolio Manager in the private wealth management division of a big bank. I gained some great skill sets in this role and, after a few years, re-evaluated my career goals – I needed to do something more sustainable, which meant that my work needed to have a purpose rooted in justice. 

During my two years at business school... I stood out from my classmates for two main reasons: 1) I had more questions than answers. I wanted to understand why the business school pedagogy and curriculum hadn’t changed since America became a more diverse and service-driven economy; instead, the teachings still focused on predominately white male perspectives within a manufacturing-driven economy and 2) I wasn’t worried about recruiters liking me and getting a lucrative job offer, I was worried about liking recruiters and the organization’s mission and ensuring that the job would be mission-oriented with the intellectual rigor that I needed.... 

After business school... I accepted an offer with Hope Enterprise Corporation, where I [worked] as the Chief of Staff. Hope Enterprise Corporation is a community development financial institution focused on economically distressed communities in the South. The organization is 1) a credit union ... 2) a loan fund that provides... affordable housing, community facilities, and healthy food financings, and 3) a policy institute that... stimulates changes that promote economic justice for historically unbanked and underbanked populations.