A tradition dating back to 1941, Bowdoin’s Sarah and James Bowdoin Day recognizes and honors students of high academic achievement. Internationally renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa delivered the keynote address, “Becoming Dr. Q,” and physics and English double major Dan Palken ’14 delivered the student address, “Delightfully Useless.”
The ceremony was held Friday, September 28, 2012, in Pickard Theater, Memorial Hall. Sarah and James Bowdoin scholarships are awarded each fall on the basis of work completed the previous academic year.
The award is given to the 20 percent of all eligible students with the highest grade point average. Book Awards are presented to every Sarah and James Bowdoin Scholar who earned a GPA of 4.00.
The Award bears a replica of the early College bookplate serving to distinguish the James Bowdoin Collection in the library. A total of 270 students were named Sarah and James Bowdoin Scholars, with 17 of the Scholars earning Book Awards.
The Almon Goodwin Prize, presented to a member of Phi Beta Kappa chosen by vote of the Board of Trustees of the College, was awarded to Ben Ziomek ’13. A German and economics major from Arlington, Va., Ziomek is a member of the German Club and the Finance Club, and has worked as a writing project partner.
Other Phi Beta Kappa members from the Class of 2016 are:
Emma MacKinnon Cutler
Joseph Stanley Durgin
Katherine Bevier Kinkel
Sarah Butler Levin
Danica Jade Loucks
Nathan Louis Meyers
Matthew Ross Spring
Asher Mason Stamell
Sheela Phansalkar Turbek
Sarah and James Bowdoin Day speeches are delivered by a highly recognized practitioner in one of the liberal arts disciplines and an outstanding Bowdoin student.
This year’s speakers were Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, internationally renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, professor of neurosurgery and oncology, and the director of the Pituitary Tumor Center at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; and Dan Palken ’14.
Twenty years ago, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa was an impoverished illegal immigrant who hopped a border fence from Mexico into this country to become a migrant farmworker. From those humble beginnings — and a journey that included living in the fields in a broken-down camper he bought for $300 — Quiñones-Hinojosamade a new life for himself. It started with English classes at a community college — and did not end there. After stops at U-C Berkeley and Harvard Medical School, where he would deliver the commencement address, “Freddy” — this one-time illegal immigrant, who at five years old was working at his father’s gas station, had become known as “Dr. Q” — an internationally renowned neurosurgeon and neuroscientist who leads cutting-edge research to cure brain cancer. He has written about his journey in the book Becoming Dr. Q — also the title of his Sarah and James Bowdoin Day talk.
Dan Palken ’14, of Northborough, Mass., is a physics and English double major. A runner, Palken is a member of the cross-country, and indoor and outdoor track teams; he’s also a member of the cycling club, an avid hiker and a downhill skier. Palken spent a summer studying at Cambridge University in England and a spring break on a service trip to Guatemala.
In his talk “Delightfully Useless,” Palken shares his observations on the degree to which science, and for him, physics in particular, is capable of making one ask persistent and important questions — “Why does this matter?” and “Why is this important?” Read the text of Palken’s remarks.
President Barry Mills congratulated the scholars on their academic achievements and encouraged all to be fearless learners, whether that be questioning conventional wisdom or visiting the Museum of Art. Read the text of President Mills’ Sarah and James Bowdoin Day welcoming remarks.
During the ceremony, pianist and Beckwith Artist in Residence George Lopez performed the processional and recessional, and accompanied the audience as they sang the alma mater, “Raise Songs to Bowdoin.”
The recognition of James Bowdoin Scholars was begun in 1941 to honor those undergraduates who distinguish themselves by excellence in scholarship and to commemorate the Honorable James Bowdoin III (1752-1811), first patron of the College. James Bowdoin III, who asked that the College be named after his father, was an agriculturist, an art and book collector, and a diplomat who served as Thomas Jefferson’s minister plenipotentiary to Spain from 1804-08. In 1997 by faculty vote the commemorative day and distinction as scholar were changed to recognize both Sarah and James Bowdoin, who were married from 1780 until his death in 1811. Like her husband, Sarah Bowdoin gave many gifts to the College, including most of the Bowdoin family portraits, which were bequeathed to the College upon her death.