Lunch with Six Supporters Serves Gratitude and Inspiration

By Bowdoin News

Bowdoin’s Lunch with Six Supporters was held Thursday, May 9, 2024, bringing together more than 220 students and the donors—alumni, families, and friends of the College—who have provided the financial support that makes a Bowdoin education possible for them.

Those who have supported financial aid at Bowdoin were invited to Barry Mills Hall to celebrate the impact they have had and to connect with current students who benefit from such generosity.

“The principles of access, and of support for each other, are woven into the fabric of the College,” said President Safa Zaki in her welcoming remarks. “They are a huge part of what is so special about this place, and they are the commitments that we have come together to celebrate today.”

President Zaki spoke of three core principles made possible by the support of many of the alumni, families, and friends of the College—need-blind admissions, guaranteeing financial aid for students that meets their full demonstrated need, and committing to all families that their aid is made up entirely of grants, not loans.

Zaki also spoke of comprehensive aid—the College’s promise to provide students what they need to excel at Bowdoin beyond traditional financial aid, for things like laptop computers, warm winter coats and boots, or funding for an unpaid internship.

“To the alumni, families, and friends here today: thank you for making all of this possible,” Zaki said. “We could not provide the Bowdoin experience without you. We are so grateful for your support, and I am personally committed to telling Bowdoin’s financial aid story as often and as strongly as I possibly can while I am president.” Read the full text of President Zaki's remarks.

Zaki also commended the students in the room for earning the opportunities they’ve had at Bowdoin and wished graduating seniors successful next chapters and continued connections to Bowdoin. It was a natural segue to invited speaker Michel Bamani ’08, who has served as a member of the Alumni Council, a class agent, a volunteer for the Office of Career Exploration and Development, for admissions, and for AF/AM/50, the celebration of fifty years of Africana studies.

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bamani emigrated to the US with his family in 2000, when he was fourteen, to escape harassment and threats of violence. Bamani shared his excitement and gratitude for having received two letters—his acceptance to Bowdoin and then news of having also received a John B. Russwurm Scholarship to cover expenses.

“That second letter was the life-changing letter to me,” he said, adding that once here, he struggled but found professors gracious with their support. “Professionally, Bowdoin taught me how to hope and dream bigger and also the value in asking for help.”

After Bowdoin, Bamani earned his law degree at Boston University School of Law and is now an assistant vice president and assistant general counsel at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

“Bowdoin changed my life by giving me hope, the ability to dream bigger, and provided me a sense of belonging when I had lost such feeling, but it also taught me the value of being a decent human being and trying every day to just be a good person,” he said. Read the full text of Bamani's remarks.