Jeffrey Larivee, Jr.
Why did you come to Bowdoin College?
I first became interested in Bowdoin my sophomore year of high school when several of my older friends were discussing colleges and one of my good friends decided to attend Bowdoin the next fall. A year later, I visited the campus and immediately realized that this was where I belonged. I toured the campus, met with a senior interviewer, and began filling out the early decision application on the drive home. I returned to high school for my senior year and collected all of the necessary application materials and sent them off to the Admissions office by early October. From there, it was a waiting game. I received an acceptance letter in the mail in mid-December and my college search was over; I was accepted to my top choice school – the only school I had applied to up until that point. It was quite the early Christmas present.
What are were some of the things you considered when deciding on a major in government?
My passion for American Politics was instilled in me by my grandmother – a staunch Democrat and an ardent politico – and I have actively pursued my interest in the field from an early age. I became active in Democratic politics in early 1992 when I began following the Presidential election and writing letters to then-Arkansas Governor and Candidate Bill Clinton. After his election in November, President-elect Clinton invited me to his inauguration and the events in Washington, D.C. surrounding the historic occasion. From that moment, I knew what education and career path I wanted to follow. After looking over Bowdoin’s offerings, it was clear that the Government major was the best fit my interests and goals, and I’ve never looked back.
What is the best class you have ever taken at Bowdoin?
There are two courses that I particularly enjoyed at Bowdoin – Professor Nancy Jennings’ Contemporary American Education and Professor Janet Martin’s Presidential-Congressional Relations. Both are truly amazing educators and their passion for teaching and their fields shines through their work both in and out of the classroom. Professor Jennings’ course is an introductory class that examines current educational issues and the role schools play in society. Until Bowdoin, I had attended only parochial schools, so it was great for me to explore the public educational system and learn about public school reform movements and funding. Jennings provides amazing first-hand accounts from her own teaching career and studies and truly captivates her audience. Professor Martin’s course was my senior seminar for the Government major. I took her class after returning from the Washington Semester Program in Washington, D.C. and interning on Capitol Hill in Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s office. In class, we studied the relationship between the executive and legislative branches, which afforded me the unique opportunity to study and reflect on all that I had previously experienced in Washington. Professor Martin has incredible Hill experience to draw from, so she is able to color class lectures with personal stories. Both courses – and professors – are highly recommended.
What extracurricular activities have you participated in?
I’ve been involved with several extracurricular activities since first coming to Bowdoin. I ran on the Men’s Indoor and Outdoor Track Team for my freshman, sophomore, and junior years. My specialized events were the 55m high hurdles during the indoor season and the 400m intermediate hurdles during outdoor. I also served as a member of the Residential Life Staff for two years.
Have you done any independent studies or are you currently doing an Honor’s Project?
I am currently completing an independent study project examining the Democratic Party and Southern Politics with Professor Janet Martin. My study focuses on political trends in Southern states and the recent Democratic strategy for election success in the South. My research attempts to explain the decline of the Democratic Party in the South, examine state-wide Democratic successes, and develop a Southern strategy for Democrats in future elections. While I was in Washington, D.C. last fall, I was able to study Southern campaigns closely and I am using that experience as a foundation for my research
Have you studied away during your time at Bowdoin?
I studied at American University in Fall 2002 as part of their Washington Semester Program. I completed an intensive American Foreign Policy semester program and interned in the office of Senator John Kerry. Studying and living in Washington was essential to fully realizing my Bowdoin and college experience. I could not have imagined myself studying away anywhere else than at the foot of our government. While in Washington, I met a truly amazing group of friends from across the country who shared similar interests and goals. There were ten of us that lived together and remain close today. While away, I was also able to participate in several events such as fundraisers and rallies, and meet many political leaders. It was truly an invaluable experience
What are your plans after Bowdoin?
I am completing my degree at the end of this semester. While in Washington, I decided that I wanted to jump into 2004 Democratic campaigns and developed a plan to do so. I took five courses last spring and I am currently taking five this semester; I also took classes this summer while living in Boston. After the completion of the semester and my degree, I hope to work for the Democratic Party and I am currently looking into a number of options within the organization. While my long-term will certainly carry me back to Washington, D.C., I am also looking into jobs with the Democratic Party in Boston and Providence, R.I.
Story posted on December 01, 2003
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