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Alumni of color share their experiences in “Through the Decades” panel

November 20, 2020

Andrew Cohen
Sharing stories: Alumni panelists offer insight on being a student of color at Bowdoin.

THRIVE and the Center for Multicultural Life partnered to hold a “Through the Decades” alumni panel on Monday evening. The panel consisted of six alumni of color who discussed their experiences at the College.

Present on the panel were Tyree Jones ’82, Elijah Whitehead ’94, Chris Knight ’07, Andrea Navarro ’10, Zully Hatch ’11 and Elly Veloria ’20. The event was moderated by two current Bowdoin students.

Some students attended the event because they were excited to hear from a diverse group of panelists.

“I don’t think that while I’ve been a student at Bowdoin … I have gotten the chance to really hear about different experiences from alums and from such different backgrounds,” Kellie Navarro ’23 said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “I also really loved that I was able to really connect and relate to the experiences of the panelists. I think in some events that I’ve seen like this, it hasn’t necessarily been the case. It’s been very different from my experience at Bowdoin.”

The panelists were asked about topics such as their favorite Bowdoin memories, support systems on campus and aspects they wish they could change about their time at Bowdoin. Additionally, members of the audience were invited to ask questions at the end.

Several of the panelists shared stories about their difficult transitions to Bowdoin, a discussion that resonated with many attendees.

“A lot of them talked about how their first year at Bowdoin was very hard and that it took them a while to find themselves and to just be happy being at Bowdoin. I definitely resonated with that because my freshman year was not great, my spring semester was robbed … So I’m kind of feeling that at the moment,” attendee Amorine Adobo ’23 said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

Each panelist also offered a piece of advice for current students. Some recommended focusing on self-love and setting high aspirations, while others advised finding people that make you feel respected and appreciated.

“[The advice] really helped me get a sense of how I should reach out more to find those resources to help me. And it gave me a little more insight into things they’ve struggled with that I’m going through as well and what I can do as a first year,” Isabella Kane ’24 said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

In the question-and-answer session at the end, the panelists answered a few questions submitted by the audience.

Overall, attendees reflected positively on the event.

“It was really helpful for me because some things I’ve experienced since I’ve been here are things they spoke about. It was nice to see that I wasn’t the only person that was struggling in those ways—socially and academically,” Kane said. “It’s nice to know you’re not alone in it and that other people have experienced it, even throughout the decades.”

Navarro hopes that more similar events are held going forward.

“I thought it was very honest [and] very different from past events that I’ve been a part of or gone to,” Navarro said. “Because I think that often we just kind of talk about the very good things of Bowdoin but we don’t often talk about the challenges and the different—the more human side of things.”


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