Alumni Profiles

Education alumni reflect on their most memorable Bowdoin experiences and lessons and briefly describe their current careers in all corners of the country.
Alumni Profile of Chelsea Pucket, Class of 2022

Chelsea Puckett ’22

Major: Education

Major: English

Location: Washington, DC

Most memorable education course: Teaching and Learning/Curriculum Development with Alison Riley Miller and Charles Dorn

"I chose education to be deeply involved in a community and to serve the common good."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

I completed Bowdoin Teacher Scholars as a senior and am now working as a youth educator in social justice advocacy in the nation’s capital.

Why education?

I chose education to be deeply involved in a community and to serve the common good. I also believe that educators can disrupt oppressive systems by directly supporting individuals. I hope to be part of a team of educators who create classrooms where students and teachers harness the power of humility and connection to work toward a collective vision of justice for Americans of all identities.

Alumni Profile of Spencer Follett, Class of 2022

Spencer Follett ’22

Major (s): Education and Computer Science

Minor: Sociology

Location: Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Most memorable education class: Independent study with Allison Miller

"I didn’t know what I wanted to study but I quickly learned that I wanted to use my privilege and education to make an impact on the lives of as many people as possible while also trying to address massive problems like systemic racism or climate change."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

Since graduating in May of 2022, I’ve been spending time with friends and traveling around the East coast. My friends and I are all about to move to tons of different places across the country, so this has been our last chance to spend time together for a while. This is also my first summer since high school with no job and no responsibilities, so I'm taking time to relax and spend time with friends and family before I start my job in August. After that, I’ll be working as a teaching resident at Steamboat Mountain School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This will allow me to observe and learn from experienced teachers, while also beginning my own journey as an educator in a place that allows me to explore and grow in and out of the classroom.

 

Why education?

I came to Bowdoin with little idea what classes I would take first semester, let alone an idea of what I wanted to study or do with my life. But coming to college opened my eyes to a ton of problems and issues that our world is dealing with that I hadn’t previously had to think about. I didn’t know what I wanted to study but I quickly learned that I wanted to use my privilege and education to make an impact on the lives of as many people as possible while also trying to address massive problems like systemic racism or climate change. Through my courses, I developed a belief that education is the starting point to solve almost all of these problems and that by improving the education we give to our youth, we can produce a generation of people who are better equipped to tackle these problems. This belief that education is the key to addressing problems and improving lives is the reason that I chose to study it at Bowdoin and the reason I hope to pursue it for the rest of my life. 

Alumni profile of Kate Moynihan, Class of 2022

Kate Moynihan ’22

Major(s): Education and Psychology

Minor: History

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Most memorable education class: Teaching and Learning/Curriculum Development with Alison Riley Miller and Charles Dorn

"I loved that everyone came to the education courses with unique perspectives and experiences in schools, but that we could all easily relate to the issues and content that arose in class."

What have you been up to since graduating Bowdoin?

I graduated from Bowdoin in May of 2022 and recently started a job at a fashion retail company called Rue Gilt Groupe! I am an entry-level buyer in the accessories department where I work with vendors to get flash sale events up on site. Outside of work, I am enjoying exploring Boston and love to find time to swim and visit with friends! 

Why education?

The education department at Bowdoin is filled with the most wonderful professors who see their students as whole people. They are passionate, thoughtful, understanding, and kind and they truly make learning fun and engaging! I think that education is unique in the sense that every student can contextualize the content they are learning in education courses by drawing on their own schooling experiences. I loved that everyone came to the education courses with unique perspectives and experiences in schools, but that we could all easily relate to the issues and content that arose in class. The opportunities to go out into the field to talk with administrators, observe teachers, and teach students were some of my favorite and most powerful learning experiences at Bowdoin. Great educators can truly make all the difference in students’ lives, which is why education is such an exciting, compelling, and essential field!

Alumni profile of Kate John, Class of 2022

Kate John ’22

Major: Education

Major: Neuroscience

Location: Brighton, Massachusetts

Most memorable education course: Introduction to Education

"It clicked for me that education was a great way to combine my interest in working with children with my interest in neuroscience."

What have you been up to since graduating from Bowdoin?

For now, I've been doing some relaxing and getting prepared to study for the MCAT, which I'll be taking in January 2023. Later during the summer of 2022, I will begin working at Kennedy DSay School, which is a school for children with physical and neurological disabilities. It's operating out of Franciscan Children's Hospital in Brighton, Massachusetts. I did get to tour the school recently, which was really fun, and I'm looking forward to starting soon! 

Why education?

I took Introduction to Education at Bowdoin as a way to fulfill one of my distribution requirements. I was personally interested in that subject, so I figured I would give it a try. I absolutely fell in love with it. I can remember that there was one specific class where we were talking about how IEPs—Individualized Education Programs—and special education programs work, and it clicked for me that this was a great way to combine my interest in working with children with my interest in neuroscience. I really love the idea of helping to educate children with special needs, because it's an underserved population. I realized that there is so much more to study in the field of education than I had previously understood. Everybody gets an education to some extent in this country, and the extent to which that's a proper education is widely varied depending on where you are and what sort of access you have to proper education. I think it's something that is worthwhile for everybody to have a baseline understanding of: how education works in this country and how we can all work to provide a better education to students all across the country and globally.

Andrew McGowan

Andrew McGowan

Class of: 2019

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Major(s): Education, English

Minor(s): Cinema Studies

McGowan is an educator with Film Pittsburgh's Teen Screen—a film-based education nonprofit connected to the film festivals in Pittsburgh. He completed his BTS teaching practicum in Brunswick High School, working with English language learners.

What drew you to teaching?

I always had great admiration for my teachers, and a quiet ambition to follow in their footsteps. Through elementary, middle, and high school, I cultivated a desire to some day lead a classroom of my own. When I got to Bowdoin, my interest in the profession took on a newfound appreciation through the education major. I grew to realize not just the appeal of teaching, but the importance of it, and the role it can play in empowering young people. Above all, however, the primary thing that draws me to teaching will always be community—it is a unique profession where one has constant engagement with a community of other educators, students, parents, families, and caretakers. 

Why did you decide to do BTS as a postgraduate?

BTS was on my radar before I even applied to Bowdoin. When I first visited, I was taken with the opportunity Bowdoin offered education students to pursue teaching. Once enrolled, I committed to taking the BTS prerequisites. However, in an attempt to embrace the liberal arts curriculum to the fullest degree, I decided to hold off on the actual practicum until after graduation. In the year between graduation and BTS, I lived in Los Angeles, exploring careers related to my cinema studies minor. Nevertheless, returning to Maine for BTS was always the plan, and Spring 2021 ended up being the right time for it!

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.)

June Woo

June Woo

Class of: 2016

Major(s): English

Minor(s): Education

Along with teaching skills and content, teaching provides an avenue for building character and ensuring that knowledge is paired with good citizenship.

Where was your practicum placement?

King Middle School, Portland 8th grade ELA

During the spring of my senior year, I was a student teacher at King Middle School in Portland, ME, where I worked with three sections of eighth grade English Language Arts. Working with a diverse student body in which 33% of the students are English language learners, I learned to adapt my teaching to support the students’ diverse learning needs. I hope to continue the reflective practice and reciprocal teacher-student learning that I’ve experienced during my practicum as I teach middle school ESOL in Boston next year.

Why Education?

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I can remember, but when I started tutoring I began to realize how rewarding it is to teach. I believe that teaching is one of the most rewarding professions, as teachers help students to develop the skills that they need to think for themselves, to ask questions, and to make informed decisions. And along with teaching skills and content, teaching provides an avenue for building character and ensuring that knowledge is paired with good citizenship. Through Bowdoin, I had the opportunity to pursue a career in teaching during my undergraduate studies.

Marcella Jimenez

Marcella Jimenez

Class of: 2016

Major(s): Hispanic Studies

Minor(s): Education

While I do not know what the future holds, I know it must touch education in some way. I hope to teach, work on education policy, or act as a social worker in schools.

Why Education?

I grew up in Richardson, TX, a city north of Dallas, and attended a public school that I started walking to with my friends when I was in second grade. It was a school embedded into the community, with sufficient resources, and a friendly staff. Around 3rd grade, my parents started talking about placing me in a private school. When I asked them why, they explained that the school’s emphasis on standardized testing, mandated by the state of Texas, was diluting my education—when I complete assignments early I filed paperwork and stapled handouts for teachers, and during free reading time I was often asked to read with students who were struggling. While I denied their criticisms of my beloved elementary school, I couldn’t help but notice the faults and flaws that abounded within the classroom. While ultimately I ended up at a private, co-ed school in Dallas, their comments and my vicarious experience of public school from my childhood friends inspired me to think critically about education: Why do some students get a better education than others? How do you quantify student success? What does critically thinking look like?

During my first year at Bowdoin, I decided to take Contemporary American Education in hope for some answers to these tough questions. However, after a few weeks of intense course readings and dynamic discussions, I found myself with more questions than answers! I quickly discovered the layers of complexity that lie beneath the surface of American education and was enthralled by the systems of inequality, that contribute to the challenges of public education, as well as the hard work of teachers and schools that point towards the promise that lies within schools. The following semester, I enrolled in Educating All Students and spent 4 hours a week working with a middle school student at Brunswick Junior High. A bright-eyed, seventh grade girl, she embodied the dichotomies and challenges we read about and discussed in class. My relationship with her enriched and complicated my understanding of how middle schoolers learn and view themselves in the classroom.

With a couple semesters of education under my belt, a professor of mine encouraged me to pursue a summer internship in the education field. With her support and counsel, I spent the summer before my junior year working as an Education Policy Research Intern at the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington D.C. During my internship, I attended hearings on Capitol Hill, lobbied for early childhood education legislation, and researched important issues surrounding school equity. My research focused predominantly on disproportionality in school discipline, disparities in school funding, and the implication of Common Core for poor children and children of color. This experience served as the perfect springboard into Doris Santoro’s Urban Education course, in which I’m currently enrolled.

While I do not know what the future holds, I know it must touch education in some way. I hope to teach, work on education policy, or act as a social worker in schools. Although schools are not sufficient to solve for systemic inequality, they are necessary. Through my coursework and conversations with education professors, I’ve come to learn what the state of education in the U.S. looks like, as well as imagine what it could be.

Juliet Eyraud

Juliet Eyraud

Class of: 2016

Major(s): Computer Science

Minor(s): Education

As a CS major, I’ve always wanted to examine the ways in which educators can make computer science more accessible, especially for culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Why Education?

I grew up in a family full of teachers. My mom was a math teacher at a local public high school and seven of my aunts and uncles were teachers as well. Thanksgiving dinners were, and still are, always replete with discussions about mayoral control failings and school budget cuts. As a student at a well-funded public school, though, I didn’t understand how public schools could be seen as failing. I was curious as to why I kept hearing about the public school crisis and why it elicited such strong emotions in my family members. So, it is, perhaps, not surprising that I came to Bowdoin with the intention of studying education in some capacity. But, in addition to gaining a deeper understanding of the educational policies I grew up hearing about, studying education at Bowdoin has also connected me to a number of opportunities to get involved in exciting educational projects both here in Maine and beyond.

During the spring of my first year, I took 1101 and through this class met a Cambodian exchange student. This student was an alumna of the Harpswell Foundation in Phnom Penh, an NGO that offers dormitories and educational enrichment programs for female university student from rural provinces. The Harpswell scholar offered a different perspective to our class discussions, and often posed questions that I would never have thought to ask: If all the students in a Maine lobstering community began to meaningfully engage in school and consider college, what would happen to the lobster industry? Why would American students choose to study at a university 3,000 miles from their home? My relationship with this Harpswell scholar led me to apply to live at the Harpswell dormitories, and as soon as classes ended, I left to teach and live among the Harpswell students in Cambodia.

My experience at the Harpswell Foundation and in a subsequent education course called Place-Based Education sparked my interest in English language education and community-based pedagogy. Since then, I have been exploring these topics through independent studies and other education classes. I have also been volunteering as a classroom assistant in English language classes for immigrants and refugees at Portland Adult Education (PAE). This position has allowed me to examine the intersection of English language education and place-based pedagogy: how these students acquire a new language and integrate into a new community. This year, I’m continuing to study these areas through an independent study, but have also incorporated computer science education. As a CS major, I’ve always wanted to examine the ways in which educators can make computer science more accessible, especially for culturally and linguistically diverse students. With the guidance of Professor Sarah Jessen and Professor Stephen Majercik, I am developing a community-based computer science curriculum that I will teach next fall to a group of adult refugees and asylum seekers at PAE.

The flexibility and enthusiasm of Education professors at Bowdoin has allowed me to not only explore a wide range of educational issues, but also examine how these issues can interact with each other. In this way, studying education has given me the opportunity to analyze the challenges of public education while simultaneously exploring solutions that could combat these issues and lead to sustainable, structural change.