In the three months that Nick Barnett '11 had been at Bowdoin College, he had already made his 6'5" presence felt.
A strong student, close friend of his floormates, and member of the sailing team, Barnett engaged with many aspects of campus life. However, his parents said that one of the things he liked best about the College was that he was not forced to decide among the many activities in which he took part.
"He loved the fact that he moved from one group to another, and that he didn't have to choose," said Christopher Barnett, Nick's father.
Barnett came to Bowdoin from Lexington High School, a well-regarded, academically competitive public school 20 miles northwest of Boston.
According to his parents, he applied to 22 schools, and "it boiled down to tough choices," said his mother, Elizabeth DeMille Barnett. What convinced him, ultimately, to attend the school was the enthusiasm of the members of the Bowdoin community, both past and present.
When Barnett was accepted, a family friend, Dr. Edward Woods '43, drove 40 miles to the Barnett household and sat for three hours telling stories about his experiences at the school, his parents said.
According to his mother, Barnett was struck by the fact that someone in his eighties could still be so enthusiastic about his college experience.
"[The commitment] wasn't just four years," DeMille Barnett said. "He felt that it was his job to make Bowdoin proud."
Beginning with his pre-orientation trip, a backpacking excursion in the Maine mountains led by Zander Abbott '08 and Assistant Outing Club Director Bree Simmons, Barnett was excited about Bowdoin.
"He came back with this ecstatic glow," said DeMille Barnett.
Back at school, Barnett quickly forged friendships with other residents of Maine Hall's third floor.
"Our floor is so close?abnormally close?and that makes it really hard," said Sophie Springer '11. "He was like a member of our family."
One of the ways these friendships were solidified was at meals.
"He loved the Bowdoin food," said DeMille Barnett. "He loved the community at meals and he loved the meals themselves."
She said that Nick would usually eat breakfast with students from his floor, lunch with people from his classes, and dinner with sailing teammates.
Many of Barnett's friends mentioned his sensitivity and ability to listen to others.
"I think he had a knack for helping people out of problems without realizing it," said Bobby Welch '10, Barnett's proctor, in an e-mail. "He would listen without judgment and keep people comfortable."
Barnett excelled academically. According to his parents, Barnett had wanted to study either economics or chemistry, and was taking organic chemistry and macroeconomics during his first semester.
"One of the things that he liked about Bowdoin was that he didn't have to choose?you could to both," said Christopher Barnett. "He loved the fact that he didn't have to make up his mind about what he was going to do right away."
Assistant Professor of Economics Julian Diaz, who taught Barnett's macroeconomics class, said that Barnett had seemed like "a genuinely good kid," and that he was very motivated.
On the first day of school, Diaz said, Barnett walked up to him after class and introduced himself. Barnett informed Diaz, who is from Ecuador, that his father was from Chile.
Diaz said that he was struck by the fact that despite his macroeconomics class being a larger, introductory course, he had already been able to chat with Barnett more than once.
Another one of Barnett's passions was the sailing team.
"He loved the opportunity to be out on the water," said Stephen Gonzalez '09, who frequently paired with Barnett. "He was really happy sailing in a big breeze?really windy days."
"He was one of those kids who you knew had the potential to be good at anything he did at life," Gonzalez said, adding that Barnett always wanted to learn and was good at taking advice. "He was up for a challenge any day of the week."
Barnett was wearing his Bowdoin Sailing Team jacket at the time of the accident, and was buried in it.
"He had a lot of fun when he was there," said DeMille Barnett. "This was the kingdom he was looking for."
Barnett's floormates said that anyone who knew him should write his parents. Letters should be addressed to Christopher and Elizabeth Barnett, 19 Eldred St., Lexington, MA 02420.