Multicultural alumni and students in Boston and Washington, DC, discuss Bowdoin, diversity, and the campus community.

Over winter break, Bowdoin hosted two events for multicultural alumni and students about the College, diversity, and the campus community. These gatherings are part of an ongoing series of events aimed at connecting and cultivating Bowdoin’s multicultural community.

The first event was held in Boston on Tuesday, January 10th. Guests gathered in Boston for a panel discussion moderated by President Clayton Rose that featured Connie Y. Chiang, associate professor of history and environmental studies; Khoa Khuong ’04, assistant dean of First-Year Students, Benjamin Harris, director of Student Center for Multicultural Life; Mariana Centeno ’14, assistant director of Residential Life; and Bowdoin senior, Briana Cardwell ’17. After remarks from President Rose, who shared his vision for Bowdoin’s future, including ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive community, the panelist considered the some of the biggest opportunities and the biggest challenges currently facing Bowdoin, including how to best foster diversity and inclusion within the campus community. A lively Q+A session with the audience followed.

Trustee Iris Davis ’78 felt that the evening started an important dialogue “that needs to continue on campus. People in attendance opened up about their feelings, their expectations and fears. We need to learn to ask questions in a respectful way, but we need to ask them.”

The following evening in Washington, D.C., another crowd of alumni, students, and parents gathered to hear from an alumni panel that included Leon A. Dickson, PhD, ’67, Staci Williams Seeley ’90, Sue Kim-Ichel ’05, and Mariya Ilyas ’13. Alumni Council member, David Dickson, PhD, ‘78 moderated. The panelists discussed what it meant to navigate Bowdoin as a person of color. Panelists shared personal stories, on-campus experiences, challenges, and opportunities.

Panelist Mariya Ilyas ’13, now a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, was humbled “to see so many alumni of color from across generations come together and discuss their Bowdoin experiences in a confidential space.” It’s important for the College to continue to make “a greater effort to connect alumni of color because these opportunities motivate us stay engaged with Bowdoin and become a resource for current students of color. We are excited and eager to give back to our alma mater! “

Panelist and former Chair of the Alumni Council, Staci Williams Seeley ’90, observed the stories demonstrated that “‘the more things change, the more they stay the same,’ [a theme that] resonated with me deeply. We all love Bowdoin not only for what it remains, but also for what it aspires to be. Goals most of us believe should be already be reached – racial harmony, equal opportunity in a community of socioeconomic diversity, and a sense of authentic belonging among all students – still seem far from reach. Yet, within our gathering, we bore witness to 50 years of progress in just one room. I’m always encouraged, and never feel more hopeful or inspired, than when I’m among my Bowdoin peers.”

The Office of Alumni Relations is deeply grateful to the alumni volunteers who made these events possible: Boston Host Committee: Trustee Iris Davis ’78, former Alumni Council member Stacey Jones Lee ’00, Kevin Robinson ’05, Jenny Wong Adu ’07, Joseph Adu ’07, Nina Ward ’08, Andrea Navarro ’10, Alumni Council member Zulmarie Bosques ’11, Alain Mathieu ’12, and Kailey Bennett ’14.

Washington, DC Host Committee: Alumni Council member David Dickson ’76, P’13; Alumni Council member Mark Lenhart ’89; former Alumni Council Chair Staci Williams Seeley ’90; former Alumni Council member Sue Kim-Ichel ’05; Nina Ward ’08; BASIC National Chair Wellesley Wilson ’08; Matt Yantakosol ’10; Sean Healey ’11; Alumni Council member Antonio Watson ’12; Alumni Council member Matt Ramos ’12; and Mariya Ilyas ’13.

A multicultural alumni gathering will take place in San Francisco on October 29, 2017. For information about future Multicultural Alumni programming on campus and across the country, please visit: https://alumni.bowdoin.edu/gateway/clubs/multicultural-alumni

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