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Spotlight

on

Student Government

Interview with

Ryan Britt

Bowdoin College Student

  1. Please tell us about your life prior to Bowdoin.

  I grew up in a northeast Ohio town called Mantua. The population is approximately 1,000 people. I went to

  Crestwood, a small local public school, and served as the President of my Class, President of the National

  Honor Society and a Freshman mentor. I lived with my grandmother and I have two younger brothers.

  I am first-generation, low-income.

  2. Please tell us about Bowdoin. 

  Bowdoin is a small private liberal arts school. There are in total 1,800 students. The school is located in

  Brunswick, Maine. The median family income is $195,900. There are no fraternities, but there are social house

  systems for Sophomores.  36% of the student body identifies as an identity other than White. There is not a

  very strong sports culture at Bowdoin. Bowdoin has only a few large scale parties a year.

  

  3. Please tell us why you decided to apply to, and eventually, attend Bowdoin. 

  I applied because of the scholarships that are available. Bowdoin offers 100% grant-based scholarships

  (no loans) and covers 100% of the financial need expressed by students. I have almost a full ride, with the

  exception of a student contribution of $2,300 that can be covered with working during the summers or

  through internships. Total cost of attendance is around $72,000.

                                      

  Also, Bowdoin offers grants to students who want to do research/internships that are unpaid. (Good way

  to cover costs) I found Bowdoin through extensive online searches. The application was through the

  Common App and I applied Early Decision I and I was accepted. I visited the school through a program called

  “Bowdoin Experience” and interviewed while I visited campus.

  4.  Please tell us about your life at Bowdoin.

  I am currently a Sophomore and I am an Economics/Religion double major with a Government and Legal

  Studies minor. I am involved in Intramural Basketball, Class Office (Vice President of the Class of 2022 and

  Chair of Student Affairs for the Bowdoin Student Government) I work at the Bowdoin Bookstore and the

  Student Employment Office. I live on-campus in a Sophomore dorm room (Howard Hall). For fun my

  roommates and I play a lot of basketball, watch shows and play a lot of Super Smash Bros.

  5.  You recently ran for the office of Chair of Student Affairs. Please tell us about this position. 

  The position has oversight of all activities that relate to Student Affairs at Bowdoin (which is very broad). I

  oversee and run a committee and propose programming that I find beneficial to the student body in the

  realm of Mental Health Wellness and Counseling, Athletics and Residential Life. I am part of a student board

  that consists of eight members (including me). I was not on the board prior to running for Chair. The term

  lasts throughout the entirety of the current school year.

 

  

  7.  Why did you run for Chair of Student Affairs? 

  I ran for this position because I felt that I could fill holes in programming for low income students here at

  Bowdoin. I proposed programming during our Family Weekend for low income students who are alone and

  can’t see their families because of traveling costs. I wanted to give us a space to feel comfortable and have

  fun during a time that can feel incredibly lonely and unfair otherwise.

                                    

  Also, I would like to increase food security for low income students that can’t afford to travel home during

  breaks. During breaks at Bowdoin, the dining halls close and make students pay for food which can be a

  huge issue for students who can’t afford it. Students should never have to go hungry at an institution

  that demands a tuition of $70,000+ per year. We need to make the dining halls available to low income

  students for no cost.

                    

  Finally, I am focused on mental health. I proposed to bring mental health kiosks to Bowdoin to help

  destigmatize conversations about mental health and mental illness at Bowdoin. Mental health checkups

  should be just as frequent as physical health checkups and by producing a public assessment kiosk 

  will serve as a reminder that students should never feel afraid to reach out for the help they need. I want

  these kiosks to be centralized on campus so anyone who goes to Bowdoin will see that they are available.

                          

  Also, I hope this could take the place of the pesky intake interviews students must do when first starting

  with counseling at Bowdoin. Laborious paperwork is the last thing someone suffering needs when they

  reach out for help. There should be much more focus on the individual rather than their information when

  they begin. I hope that the mental health kiosks can replace this step while serving as a constant reminder

  that struggling is okay. My priorities differed from my competitors because they did not emphasize

  programming for low-income students like I had.

 

  

  8.  Please tell us about the campaign and election.

  There were three candidates. The incumbent had graduated the preceding year. I ran for this position on

  my own. There were five days of campaigning excluding two days to gather 50 signatures for a petition to

  run. There was no money included in the election because Bowdoin forces all campaigns to be equal and

  fair in this regard. I had my roommates and some friends support me during my run for the election in

  spreading the word.

 

  

  9. What was the result?

  The election occurred and I won!

 

  

  10. What surprised you the most about your experience running for office?

  Running for office is very time consuming and tedious and requires a lot of focus and hard work especially

  paired with keeping up with classwork and other extracurriculars. It is very thrilling but also very nerve

  wracking.

 

  

  11. What advice would you give to FGLI students who are considering running for office?

  Look for things that you can improve to better serve the members of your community and the people you

  care about as well as the overarching community as a whole. Don’t let the intimidation factor stop you from

  pursuing things that you feel very passionately about.

 

  

  12. What else would you like us to know that we haven’t asked you about?

  I hope to graduate from Bowdoin College and pursue a law degree and hopefully go into politics and serve

  the country. With all I have experienced throughout life, I feel that I have the capacity to achieve anything

  I set my mind to.

                                 

  There are definite advantages of being first-generation, low income. The painful truths you must navigate

  about society and the ways we are underprivileged are not easy, but once you work through these

  disadvantages and achieve the goals you set and do the things you want to do the gratification is above

  anything I have ever felt. Representing my family and community in such a positive way makes all the hard

  work to come in the future and hardships of the past much more bearable. I am proud of who I am and

  what background I come from.

                                   

  FGLI students deserve every opportunity that they can find. Pursue them like crazy and never let anyone

  tell you that you don’t belong.

 

  

 Ryan is a sophomore and:

 * is from Mantua, Ohio

 * majors in Economics & Religion

 * is Vice President of his class ('22)

 * serves as Chair of Student Affairs

 * hopes to go to law school and get

    into politics

  6.  Did you have any concerns about running? Were you

        scared/nervous? If so, how did you cope?

  I was very nervous. To run for a public office, you really have to

  be willing to put yourself out there and run the risk of being 

  rejected. I also had to do a public debate with two other

  candidates for an hour at the student union in front of a crowd

  of students which was quite stressful. I overcame these feelings

  of nervousness with my passion for the issues that I care

  about. I felt I could help Bowdoin better serve our community.