Hometown: New York City
Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I knew that I wanted to come to a small college because I had been at the same school since kindergarten and I couldn't imagine not recognizing at least every face I saw. I am much more comfortable when I'm surrounded by a strong feeling of community and this struck me immediately at Bowdoin. Since my grandfather and aunt and uncle attended Bowdoin it was an obvious choice for me to come tour, and after I did I knew it was where I wanted to be. My tour guide and interviewer, both students, treated me with so much respect, paid genuine attention to what I had to say, and had so much pride in their own answers. I did not feel like just another high school senior who comes through the admissions office, but rather they took the time to find out what my interests were and tell me how Bowdoin could fulfill them. It was absolutely the students I met who made my decision easy and it has gotten better and better since.
Why did you choose your major? ?
I signed up for a Japanese history course my first semester here and was hooked. Professor Tom Conlan (who is now my current advisor) offered us the dates and names of particular people and events but kept a focus on the overall theme and significance of these facts. This approach was different from high school and is what stands out about the Bowdoin history department for me. In all my history classes, we would look at how a society changes over time, instead of fragmented snapshots of its story. History is such a broad subject because you simultaneously learn about religion, politics, geography, sociology and literature. Studying history has given me a general knowledge about so many eras and areas of the world but, more importantly, has taught me how to think critically about events, both in the past and today, and what they reveal about the values and trends of the time period. I always say that history is a "Life Major" because, even if I don't go on to be an East Asian history scholar, the way I have learned to think and approach events will stay with me. And I like being really good at Trivial Pursuit.
What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin??
The tougher question would be, "Has there been a course that I haven't enjoyed at Bowdoin?" The one that sticks out the most is Carey Phillips' sub-100 biology course called From Conception to Birth. I have always been a self-professed humanities type, but I had to take a science class to fulfill distribution requirements. I ended up both understanding and enjoying everything, which was a great surprise. We learned about the applications of developmental biology on a practical level; we learned about how sight, hearing, and taste works, but not necessarily on the more intangible cellular or microscopic level. Professor Phillips made an otherwise difficult subject, especially for a (formerly!) "non-science" person, extremely accessible and I still remember most of what I learned. I have since encouraged many of my fellow humanities majors to take this class and have gone on to tackle sub-100 classes in both chemistry and physics.
What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
Gwyneth Jones, my dance professor is the first who comes to mind. I have taken six dance technique classes with her, and have performed her choreography four times for the biannual dance concerts presented by the dance department. Dance is an academic subject that is approached from a completely different perspective and it always wakes up my brain after a long day of lectures. There is a relationship between our mind and our body that is exercised in dance class that I do not get in other classes and I think it is really valuable to use different parts of my brain. Gwynnie is completely in touch with her students' needs, strengths and weaknesses and is always in-tune with every one of her students individually. She nurtures our brains and bodies both inside and outside of class and since I've met her I just can't stop dancing.
What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I was a proctor in a first-year residence hall for two years before I decided to live off-campus as a senior. I loved being part of the residential life family and getting to know so many people, especially first-years, that I may not have met otherwise.
I have also broken out of my comfort zone by participating in a few theater productions, mostly student directed, which I love. I now cannot imagine how I was ever nervous about performing in front of an audience. Last year I finally got the guts to audition for The Improvabilities, Bowdoin's improvisational comedy group, and was lucky enough to make the team. Our performances are always completely packed and the energy the audience gives off is the best feeling in the world. I have met some of my closest friends through improv and have inadvertently learned skills I can apply to interviewing and other non-performing opportunities just from knowing how to make people laugh.
Another creative outlet I have on campus is through dancing. I am part of the ballet group on campus, Arabesque, and have performed two independently choreographed duets. Bowdoin's dance program provides a space for anyone who wants to dance to be able to and I spend more time in the studios than one would think possible.
I have also been involved with V-Day, which is an international organization to end violence against women and girls. I became a part of this group after I auditioned for The Vagina Monologues as a first-year. Now I am the head of Bowdoin's V-Day division and am co-directing the show for the third time this February. Last year, we raised more than $6,000 for Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine and hopefully we can surpass that this year. I have more recently been involved in other sexual assault awareness and prevention campaigns, and have sat on various committees with heads of other student advocacy groups and staff members.
Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin? ?
No, I decided to stay at Bowdoin during my junior year while many if not most of my friends studied away. I spent time abroad in high school so I felt that I had already gotten my fix, and I just couldn't imagine leaving Bowdoin! Junior year is actually when I feel like I found my niche here and I feel lucky to have had a full semester to meet new people, try new things, and get to Bowdoin and Brunswick more.
What have you done during your summers?
The summer after my first year I went back to the all-girls sleep away camp I attended myself for seven years. After sophomore year, I went back home and had an internship at Central Park SummerStage, a summer long free concert series in the heart of Manhattan. My responsibilities included working in the office of the Director of the Arts Program of City Parks, the organization that runs SummerStage among other programs. I got to know the inner workings of venue management and non-profit administration, and more excitingly got to spend three days a week working the VIP list at the concert site. I heard promising new bands, jammed to classic rockers like Bob Weir and Levon Helm, and even got to meet some celebrities. Even though I have always been into the arts and have spent much of my extracurricular time participating in the arts at Bowdoin, my experience at SummerStage solidified my desire to pursue a career in the entertainment business.
This past summer I interned at Chicago City Limits, an improvisational comedy company in New York. I got to watch improv a few times a week, take classes, watch and critique short films submitted to their monthly First Sundays festival, stage manage shows, and designed and implemented a new software program that the company used. Chicago City Limits is New York's longest running comedy revue and being around the historic paraphernalia around the office was so exciting, especially for an improv junkie like me. I brought back so much of what I learned to The Improvabilities this year and the internship furthered my knowledge of what I hope will be my future career field.
What is your best Bowdoin memory?
Last Ivies, Bowdoin's own celebration of the return of spring, many of my friends ended our evening over nachos at Super Snacks. Super Snacks is when Thorne dining hall opens up late every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and snacks are provided for the entire student body. There was a great setup in Thorne, the overhead lights were flashing and loud music was playing. Students started dancing on the tables, and Security Director Randy Nichols asked them to get down, and of course, they respectfully complied. I proceeded to start a "RANDY, RANDY!" chant, a familiar motto during Ivies, and he responded by waving and throwing his Bowdoin security hat into the adoring crowd. I've told this story over and over to demonstrate the mutual respect between students and security that keeps Bowdoin so safe. And where else is the head of Safety and Security the biggest rock star on campus?
What are your plans for after graduation?
To put my education to good use while doing something I love and having fun. I guess the next step is finding employment that will fulfill these criteria. Right now I want to get the most out of my pre-graduation time!
What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
If you have questions, just ask. Though the learning curve at Bowdoin is steep, even as a senior there are many secrets worth discovering. Everyone here loves to talk about the school we love so much so if you need to know where a building is, what classes to take or anything else, just speak up.
What quirky or fun thing did you wish you know before you came to Bowdoin?
Racer X, Bowdoin's very own professor-fronted '80s cover band. Nothing brings college students together quite like '80s music. And I can't imagine that kids at most other colleges voluntarily spend their Friday nights listening to their professors.