An Interview On
Bowdoin College

Background

Interview Date:December 2018

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Black
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Boarding school in Connecticut with graduating class of 110. There was a strong culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Anthropology and Education
Minor: Africana Studies
Extracurricular Activities: Used to be a varsity athlete and do a little bit of work with affinity groups.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for Anthropology and Education?
The majority of what I do is reading, writing, analyzing text, and producing new data. My significant assessments are usually papers instead of examinations.

Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
I think Education does an excellent job of being relevant. It’s something that pretty much everyone knows, but they do a good job at making classes engaging. Anthropology takes a lot more to make the subject more engaging.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely more collaborative. There’s a lot of peer sharing, and meeting with professors out of class is encouraged and is the norm. I know in other departments this not as much the case.

What is your favorite class and least favorite class you have taken in your majors?
My favorite class is Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. The teacher was very engaging, the content was relevant, and I learned as well as retained a lot which seems to be rare. My least favorite class in my major is a course I took on ethics. It was so dry and lecture-heavy.

How accessible have your professors been?
They are very accessible. It’s a small school so it’s easy to find one or catch them in passing.

Why did you pick to study Anthropology, Education, and African Studies? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m happy with my choice. The subjects play well together, and I am doing research that touches all three of these fields. Also, the professors I’ve had have been pivotal because of how passionate and engaging they are about their work.

How easy was it to get involved in research?
It was pretty easy. This campus is very research active which I didn’t expect, mainly in the sciences, but also in social sciences and the humanities.

How was managing both your sport and coursework?
It was a bit challenging in that you had to factor in physical tiredness, along with mental fatigue which makes for an interesting combination. It’s about being more diligent in treating your body, and how much sleep you get versus how much you want to have a life. It’s really up to you.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Moore Hall with 2 roommates and 2 suitemates

Sophomore: Residence Life Staff in Stowe Hall with 2 roommates

Junior: Chamberlain Hall in a single room

How was transitioning from Connecticut to Brunswick, Maine?
I’m from New Jersey originally, so the location switch was surprising because of the amount of snow and how much colder it is. I’m from a big city, so culturally it seems that the city of Brunswick pretty much revolves around Bowdoin.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
For the most part, I feel safe on campus. Security is always roaming around and the town is pretty good too. I feel alright walking into the city or venturing out at night.

What is your favorite off-campus restaurant?
Shere Punjab – Indian food right at the end of Main Street.

What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I enjoy a good Portland trip. It’s an interesting city with lots going on. It’s a significant change of scenery, so a trip there is a good way to clear the head. [Portland is ab0ut 40 min. away from Bowdoin.]

Pros and Cons of being in Brunswick, Maine?
Pros:
1) In the summer, it’s absolutely beautiful, although not so much when it’s cold.
2) You can go up the coast and see things. It’s a great place to unwind.
3) There are great restaurants that you wouldn’t guess to be right down the street.

Cons:
1) It’s cold, and far away from home for me.
2) I tend to fly home which is dependent on the very temperamental weather.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in at Bowdoin?
Personally, I’m not a fan of the dominant Bowdoin party scene. I tend to do a lot of kickbacks and dinner dates with my friends. That’s been a process. The first year I was very involved in social life, but it’s died down for me.

What nights of the week do you regularly do things?
My weekend starts on Thursday after classes, but that night is more low-key. Friday and Saturday nights are bigger, then people just chill on Sunday’s.

Who else hosts parties?
The social houses are responsible for the underclassman social life. Maybe 4 or 5 houses will have parties over the weekend, and it’s not uncommon for upperclassmen to have events in these spaces as well.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
Honestly not much, freshman can’t have cars on campus which is limiting. Because the weather is unbearable people don’t really like to go out and adventure. People will stay in, play video games, or catch up on sleep over the weekends.

How happy are you with the nightlife? Is there anything you would change if you could?
The things I want to change kind of can’t be changed, such as the weather. Bowdoin has a no hard liquor alcohol policy, which I wish could change. The social houses do what they need to do, and when I was into it, but beyond that, it’s a lot of pockets [or groups of people], that gather together.

What have been some of your favorite times at Bowdoin?
In and around special events, and breaks. For example, if a friend of mine has a party that’s something we get excited for during the week.  Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, the dining hall really proves why it’s up top. [Bowdoin’s dining hall is often ranked #1 in the country.]

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I got lucky, and one of my best friends was my freshman year roommate. Bowdoin has a springtime accepted students weekend, where we met and slowly formed a big conglomerate. Most of my friends and I share common experiences such as living in similar areas at home, going to boarding school, or being people of color. These all have helped me bond with people based on unique experiences.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Bowdoin?
The dominant social scene is hyper White and split between an athlete and non-athlete culture, then beyond to the queer or club sports scene. The ethnicity clubs run the only non-White social scene spaces. [Bowdoin is about 32% students of color.]

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
At Bowdoin, people of different sexual orientations mix pretty frequently. Our campus doesn’t have too many reservations about that, it’s a pretty liberal campus. In terms of race, it depends. Most of my friends are people of color but that doesn’t mean all. I think because my identity involves being queer and of color, I tend to merge toward similar people.

How strong is the Black community on campus?
It’s interesting because I’ve seen a change since my freshman year. The trend is becoming more accepting of students of color, especially Black kids. Right now, it’s pretty strong, but not as strong as it was my first year and I think that goes to losing a lot of good leadership that graduated. [About 6.5% of students are Black students.]

How strong is the LGBTQ community on campus?
There are the institutional resources to support these people on the spectrum, along with random gatherings to meet people. It’s something that is either a hyperactive part of your identity, or it’s one of those things you think about but it’s not at the forefront of conversation. If you are someone struggling with your identity, you could definitely find a home here.

Do people generally seem happy with their college choice by senior year? Do people love your school?
Bowdoin works really well for some people, and not so well for others. Based on what my senior friends have said, and me being a year away from that, I definitely have an appreciation for Bowdoin which has come with time. I wouldn’t have predicted that at the end of my first year. At the very least, people are content with their experience.

How has the size of your school influenced your social experience?
It’s interesting, I went to a small boarding school, and that was fine. I can appreciate the small school vibe, but there are certain times I wish we had even a thousand more students. Word gets around very quickly, and you never really know who is friends with who because of all the ways people get to know one another.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
The alumni network is pretty great. I went on a sponsored trip to San Francisco where we met with different tech companies who employ Bowdoin alumnus. A lot of interviews and jobs were being passed around during this time. There are seniors who had no idea what they wanted to do but now work for companies like Google.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
The career center is awesome because it’s small and connected enough to be effective. They have a good relationship with older alumni, so there is a constant stream of supply and demand regarding what opportunities people are interested in and how they are presented to students. Additionally, they are very frank about the skills you’ll need for any given path.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
In my Quantitative Reasoning course, I worked a lot with Excel. I work in IT [for the university] and got a lot of on the job training, giving me a fair amount of valuable skills.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Bowdoin before you entered as a freshman?
One thing I did wish I knew was how quickly time flies, and how quickly things can change regarding academics. It’s very academically rigorous, and they have pretty stiff rules about passing and failing. They are also very particular on what other school credits they accept.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There are a lot of cool little historical things on campus which [appeal to] the nerdy side in me. Some cool things are the Joshua Chamberlain Statue, or the Stowe House where Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written.

What is something a student of color should know that hasn’t been touched on?
Don’t worry about fitting in, worry about finding your place because it’s here. It will take time, and it will be hard if you see others fall into place so quickly.

Reasons to attend Bowdoin:
1) There are some of the nicest and most intelligent people here which is hard to find at a small school. [Bowdoin has about 1,820 undergraduate students.]
2) Bowdoin has a lot of great resources beyond the career center, such as the library.
3) It’s a place where you don’t have to feel pressured to do anything.

Reasons to not attend Bowdoin:
1) If you really don’t like the cold, you’ll be miserable.
2) For someone looking for a bigger school or city, it may not be the best choice.
3) It’s a quirky school where there is a bit of everything for everyone. The sports scene is not huge, we are NCAA Division III for most sports.

Notice: Bowdoin College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Bowdoin College.

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