B at e s The TRANSFORMER Interviews with five youngish people who went to Bates and (not coincidentally) are now doing something worth reading about.
B at e s C o l l e g e Lewiston, Maine
Every great college can give you a book about its famous, high-achieving alumni. This is not that book.* This is a book about Bates alumni who are quite young. They might want to be famous; they might think fame is irrelevant; but they’re not famous now. What they are is interesting. And driven. And resourceful. They’re also young enough to remember what college felt like, what it meant and why it mattered. And so this is a book about things that matter— during college, slightly after college and possibly for the rest of your unwritten life. *If it were that book, it might introduce you to the woman who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2009; the chief curator of the Walker Art Center; an international expert on biomass energy and sustainability; the CEO of Cubist Pharmaceuticals; current and former senators and congresspeople; the current president of Beloit College and the former president of Morehouse College; and so on—all of whom went here.
Talk about an experience at Bates that unexpectedly turned out to be valuable to your work now. Mike: “A class in international politics. My professor challenged us to examine Iranian–U.S. relations from an Iranian perspective. To look critically at both sides of a situation, to rethink your whole understanding of a subject—that’s been crucial at Ora.” Clark: “My first-year seminar in anthropology was like that. I’ve never felt more out of my element—and it was, hands down, the class that most changed the way I see the world. But I was also thinking about my experience with the Bates Fishing Club. That’s how I met an alumnus who became a friend and led me to Ora.”
The Road Ahead What helps you get ready for what’s next?
You both played sports. Was that important? Mike: “In my last race at Bates, my 4x800 relay team broke the 79-year-old school record. So I felt like I’d met a huge challenge—and was ready for new challenges ahead.” Clark: “I loved my team—but I can’t stress enough the importance of the whole community. Bates rejects the idea of separation. If you played sports, you weren’t just a jock. The diversity of friends I made was immense. And the community stays with you after you graduate. That’s a powerful thing.” M i k e Wat s on ’ 0 9
(above left) is a senior site operations associate at Ora Inc.
in Medford, Mass. At Bates he majored in biology and was captain of the cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams.
C l a r k W inc h e l l ’ 0 9
(above right) is a clinical research associate at Ora. At Bates he majored in biology and was captain of the soccer team and president of the fishing club.
The Power Supply Making artâ€”and making a lifeâ€” at the crossroads
Why is your work important to you? “I think the performing arts are the most powerful form of human communication. They have an immense potential for bringing people together—which is vital in a country like Sri Lanka, where we’re constantly negotiating our own identities. Sri Lanka is at a crossroads. Artists can play a big role in building a progressive future here.” What work does a freelance artist do? “The AIDS Foundation of Lanka commissioned me to create a performance for World AIDS Day. The U.S. Embassy invited me to create a piece for the opening of a library in Jaffna city—and now it’s funding a tour. I directed a show with 150 boys at the Royal College, the largest primary and secondary school in Asia. Those are a few things I’ve done in the year since I’ve been back in Sri Lanka.” How did Bates prepare you for that life? “Bates taught me how to think—how to analyze a situation and reach my own conclusions about it—and how to write. Those two skills are responsible for setting up my career. They look small on paper, but they affect everything I do—everything I can imagine doing.” Su l oc h a n a D i s s a n aya k e ’ 0 9
is a freelance artist in Pita Kotte
(Colombo), Sri Lanka. At Bates she double-majored in economics and theater, directed nine productions, interned at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and apprenticed at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts.
Riding the Wave How to handle a fast-paced, high-powered new job
What’s your work environment like? “It’s fast-paced, with a slew of deadlines. We work in small teams, advising a ton of different clients, from surf board manufacturers to national restaurant chains.” Was that a tough transition from Bates? “I’d interned at Piper Jaffray the summer before my senior year, so I knew what I was getting into. And Bates gave me the tangible tools I needed to make my way in the field—an understanding of corporate finance, experience with analysis and communication and collaboration. But the most valuable tool I got at Bates is a little more abstract.” How would you describe it? “It’s the training, the practice you get in thinking big. The details matter, but you need to be able to step back and set a problem or a question into a broader context. In my first months on the job, there were so many times when I could have gotten lost in minutiae, overwhelmed with details. But I knew how to take a different approach.” K e v in T h or s on ’ 1 0
is a consumer investment banking analyst at Piper Jaffray
& Co. in San Francisco. At Bates he double-majored in economics and Spanish; he wrote one senior thesis about debt structure for nonprofits and one about Argentinian cowboys.
The Turnaround A struggle, a pep talk, a blueprint for the future
Is this where you thought you’d be a few years out of college? “In a weird way, yes. I got hooked on neuroscience in an intro course at Bates. I did my senior thesis on the connection between schizophrenia and drug addiction. When I went to medical school, I realized that all the things I loved were the things I’d done at Bates.” What do you carry with you from Bates? “The friends. For some reason, Bates seems to attract smart, down-to-earth, kind and fun people. And the mentors. My thesis advisor, John Kelsey. Or my basketball coach, Jim Murphy. I can’t say enough good things about him.” Maybe say one good thing. “OK. The team was struggling midway through this one season. We had talent, but things weren’t falling into place. At the end of an uninspired practice, he sat us down and gave us a talking-to. His message was: Nothing worth doing in life is going to be easy. That was the moment when the season turned around; we went on to be ranked nationally. That message, that moment, was the blueprint for my future. If I’m going through a rough patch, I know what I need to do. And I know that if I do it, good things will happen.” O l i v i a Z ur e k ’ 0 5
is a resident physician in the Psychiatry Residency Training
Program at Brown University. At Bates she majored in neuroscience and played varsity basketball and volleyball for four years.
Represent Ben Chin puts down roots— and reaches out
What’s your job description? “My job has two major roles. First, I’m in charge of our legislative agenda—figuring out what policies we want to fight for, and connecting people in the state to their representatives. Second, I work on elections. It really does matter who’s in office.” Were you doing this kind of work at Bates? “I was. One of the reasons I came to Bates was that I sat in on a few classes, and students were talking about doing research in the community. The incredibly generous financial aid helped too—but I liked that people were engaged. When I was a sophomore, I helped organize a campaign against an initiative to displace poor people in Lewiston. We camped out on the quad for the month of November, got a lot of attention and the initiative died. That was a transformative experience for me.” Where do you see yourself going from here? “I’m staying. Lewiston—and Maine—is a place where relationships matter, where you know your neighbors and you can get together and figure out how to move things forward. Change is very possible here.” B e n C h in ’ 0 7
is the political engagement director
for the Maine People’s Alliance. At Bates he majored in political science, studied in Uganda and Egypt, and did summer internships with the Alliance. He’s based in Lewiston.
About 2,000 students | 46 states | 65 countries | 33 majors | 20 students in the average class | 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio | 100% of faculty hold highest degree in their field | 100% of students complete a capstone or thesis | 70% of students study abroad | 31 NESCAC Division III teams | 160 community partnerships through the Harward Center | 110 student clubs, open to all | 0 fraternities and sororities | 5-week spring Short Term | 109 acres on Lewiston campus | 600 acres in Batesâ€“Morse Mountain Conservation Area | $27+ million in scholarship aid every year | 43% of students receive financial aid from Bates | 100% of aid is need-based | $38,700 average financial aid package | 24,000 alumni
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Majors African American Studies American Cultural
East Asian Studies
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Women and Gender
Medieval Studies Dance
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Deutsche Securities, Tokyo
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Bates values the diversity of persons, perspectives and convictions. Critical thinking, rigorous analysis and open discussion of a full range of ideas lie at the heart of the college’s mission as an institution of higher learning. The college seeks to e ncourage inquiry and reasoned dialogue in a climate of mutual respect.
Since 1855, Bates College has been dedicated to the emancipating potential of the liberal arts. Bates educates the whole person through creative and rigorous scholarship in a collaborative residential community. With ardor and devotion—Amore ac Studio—we engage the transformative power of our differences, cultivating intellectual d iscovery and informed civic action. Preparing leaders s ustained by a love of learning and a commitment to responsible stewardship of the wider world, Bates is a college for coming times.
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