Major: Student-Designed Major in Biomedical Ethics
Hometown: Acton, Massachusetts
Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
Of all the schools visited, Bowdoin was really the only one that just felt right. I happened to visit on a beautiful fall day and I really enjoyed walking around the campus with one of the captains of the lacrosse team. Everyone I met just seemed so welcoming and so happy to be at Bowdoin. In the end, everything seemed to come together for me, so I applied early decision at the last minute.
Why did you choose your major?
My major is odd because it is self-designed. I had always been fascinated in bioethics, but I didn't realize that I could actually make an academic career out of it. So after questioning a few professors about what to do, I was led into a major that combines the two most central pieces of bioethics (philosophy and biology).
What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin?
While I've enjoyed many courses at Bowdoin, I'd have to say that my favorite was a first-year seminar with Government Professor Jean Yarbrough on ancient political philosophy. That class really influenced many of my later class choices, as it inspired me to continue on an academic path that I truly enjoyed, even if the courses were more difficult.
What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
It's hard to believe how many wonderful professors I have had at Bowdoin. Three professors really stand out to me. Professor Yarbrough really helped me find something about which I could be really passionate.
Philosophy Professor Scott Sehon taught some of the most difficult classes that I have had at Bowdoin, but also the most interesting. I could not help myself from taking more of his classes each semester.
Finally, Philosophy Professor Lawrence Simon, who is the lead advisor on my honors project, has really helped me to push my writing and my arguments to much higher levels.
Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
The only independent research that I have worked on is my honors project, which is a combined project with the biology and philosophy departments. The goal of the project is to determine whether any strong moral objections can be made to the practice of sex selection through the use of specific scientific methods. I became interested in this topic largely through current newspaper articles related to preimplantation genetic diagnosis for the purpose of sex selection. It seemed to be a very timely and pressing matter, so I thought it would be perfect for an honors project. Professor William Steinhart of the biology department and Professor Simon, my advisors for the project, have both helped me take my work to a more sophisticated level.
What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I have been a part of the track and field team at Bowdoin since my first year and I have been a captain of the team for the last two years (four seasons). The track team has been an amazing part of my life at Bowdoin and I would not trade that experience for anything. I still look forward to practice everyday, even when practice means a bunch of fast 800s on the track.
I have also worked on and off campus, spending the majority of my work experience at Bowdoin helping Coach Peter Slovenski in the track and field office. Off campus, I have worked as a waitress at 111 Maine Café, a restaurant in downtown Brunswick.
Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I studied abroad in Copenhagen during the fall of my junior year. I chose Copenhagen largely because of a class in medical ethics that was offered there. It was an amazing experience, especially because I was able to be in a country that is so different than the one I'm used to. I also happened to be in a program with some other Bowdoin students whom I had not known very well prior to going abroad, and it was really nice to get to know them better and return to campus having shared a major experience.
What have you done during your summers?
I spent the summer after my first year at home in Acton, Massachusetts, working as a nanny and a medical assistant. I spent the following summer in Baltimore where I was a waitress and had a part-time internship at a women's gynecology clinic. The women's clinic was a very interesting experience for me for a number of reasons. First, I was able to help initiate fundraising efforts for underprivileged women, so that they can have access to the same medical resources as many other women. Secondly, in women's health clinics that provide abortions there are always many ethical issues involved, such as how far along in the development of the fetus should the clinic provide abortions.
I spent last summer at Bowdoin working for Coach Slovenski at his day camp and waiting tables at 111 Maine Café.
What is your best Bowdoin memory?
I have a lot of wonderful memories and can't really think of one in particular. However, my favorite time of year at Bowdoin is pre-season for track and field. We get back to campus for the last two weeks of the winter break and all we do is train and do a ton of great team activities such a pool tournaments, bowling, roller skating, and volleyball tournaments. It's a time when I can really feel relaxed and just have a lot of fun with my best friends without worrying about many of the commitments that take over when the semester starts.
What are your plans for after graduation?
My plans have not been exactly finalized. However, I do know that I will be working part-time through an internship with the Director of Clinical Ethics at Maine Medical Center. I am very much looking forward to it.
What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Do not be afraid to push your comfort zone in both academics and extracurricular activities. I would not be where I am now without challenging myself to take classes that were difficult or that I knew very little about or without going abroad to a place about which I knew next to nothing.
What quirky or fun thing did you wish you knew before you came to Bowdoin?
Sometimes I wish I knew how crazy (in a good way) the track team would be, Coach Slovenski in particular. Sometimes I wonder where he comes up with all the wild team activities that bring the team so close together. On the other hand, these things have been such a wonderful part of my college experience that it might have been better being surprised by these things all the way along.