FRESHMAN FOCUS: In between academically rigorous courses at Bates College, Jag Lally plays the pepper shaker challenge

(Photo used by permission of Lally)
Serajh Esmail and Jag Lally, both ’16, stand outside of the lower- school building after graduating on June 9.

Find out what the members of the class of 2016 are up to in their first year of college. A college freshman is featured in the Freshman Focus every week.

Jag Lally, ‘16, attends Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He is majoring in neuroscience with concentrations in chemistry and anatomy and physiology.

Q: Why did you choose Bates?

A: I chose Bates for the size, along with its track record of getting kids into good medical schools.

It’s similar to Country Day, where the teachers really want the students to succeed. There’s a lot of one-on-one attention; for example, before every final, teachers meet with freshmen. There are also first-year seminars led by advisers who are assigned to help students based on the major they are pursuing.

It’s just as rigorous in terms of academics as Country Day, which was something I was looking for.

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: Atomic and Molecular Structure/ Lab Chemistry, Calculus I, The Science of Fiction (a first-year seminar in which we analyze the science of books and movies), 9/11 Literature, which is where we take text from books and stuff related to 9/11 and discuss the media’s perception of 9/11 as a disaster, and The Science Fellow, which is a class where I talk about science and get  ready for summer research. The English, chemistry and calc classes are all pre-med requirements.

Q: How big are your classes?

A: My largest class is 35 people. My smallest class is 11.

Q: What’s your favorite class?

A: The Science of Fiction because it gives me an opportunity to look at movies and books beyond their entertainment value. And I learned whether or not it is possible to grow food on Mars from watching “The Martian.” We watch movies, read books and analyze the science in them. We watched clips of “Iron Man,” and one of my final projects was to make a presentation on his suit. I talked about the parts of his suit and made a 3-D printout of the “Arc Reactor.”

Q: Least favorite?

A: (Calc I is) a review of what I have done before. I had decided to retake Calc I because I wanted a light course load and for the requirement for a pre-med major. They only require a semester of calculus.

Q: Have you participated in any school traditions?

A: The Dempsey Challenge is a big deal. (It) is a 5K hosted by actor Patrick Dempsey. I participated in it with a lot of other Bates students.

We’ve done a lot of pepper flip challenges in the cafeteria. We dare people to do stupid stuff, and if (the person daring the other) is able to flip a pepper shaker, (the person getting dared) must do the dare. It’s like the water bottle flip challenge.

I also went on a camping trip with upperclassmen to Acadia National Park in Maine. I made a lot of friends on that trip, and it was a nice way to start the year.

Q: Are you participating in any clubs?

A: I’m currently participating in the pre-med club. You have to apply for a lot of the pre-med research opportunities, so it helps me with my major. They’ve offered me the opportunity to study abroad and do research in either Stockholm, Sweden, or Munich, Germany.

The Helicase club helps you in applying for Bates research opportunities. One of the applications is going to Africa, which is a big trip. I might join Ultimate Frisbee or weightlifting clubs if I feel like it.

Q: What is the overall attitude of the student body?

A: People here are very academically oriented during the week. There are basically no parties going on since it’s a very difficult academic environment. But on the weekends there are definitely parties.

Q: What do you do for transportation?

A: They have a lot of Ubers, so Ubering is really easy if you want to go into the city. But there is no need for transportation on campus. I can walk across campus in about five minutes.

Q: What is Lewiston like? What is there to do there?

A: It’s pretty chill. There’s a hospital really close by, so it’s easy to get volunteer hours, and you can easily shadow a lot of doctors, which is highly recommended for pre-med students. I have an appointment to shadow doctors twice a week in the second semester.

There’s not too much to do, so most people go to Portland, which is a 40-minute drive from Lewiston. Portland is where everything is happening.

Q: What is your dorm like?

A: I got the brand-new dorms that just opened last summer. They have lounge rooms on each floor with three flat screen TVs and Xboxes and an option for personal bathrooms. There are four floors, and on each floor there are three common rooms and a study space. On one floor there’s a total of 28 people, and each room is a 500 square-foot double. I happen to be on that floor.

Q: How’s your roommate?

A: My roommate is chill. He plays on the football team. We had this thing where we outlined our expectations during orientation week for each other and what environment we want to have in our room, and we’ve stuck to it.

Q: What is the weather like?

A: According to the local Maine people, it (is) one of the nicest and warmest falls. They are hoping for a good winter with a lot of snow since it didn’t snow much last year. There’s a really big ski culture here, so they want to have a good ski season.

Q: Has the college lived up to your expectations so far

A: It’s actually gone way beyond my expectations so far. I looked for a college that would help me reach my goals. In terms of that, they’ve set me up with great opportunities to do summer research.

Q: What don’t you like about your college?

A: I can’t think of anything major. The only thing I don’t really like is the gym. It’s really outdated and needs new equipment.

Q: What makes your school unique?

A: The amazing food, the truly kind people and the abundance of lobster. We’ll get lobster rolls from time to time, but (on) important days, such as parent visits, there’s a lot of lobster.

Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?

A: I accidentally submitted a paper with nothing on it instead of my actual paper with writing. It was done online, and we had to send it to the teacher. The teacher let me re-submit it, so everything was OK.

Q: What’s your advice for the class of 2017?

A: Stay away from taking  L’s (losses). College is a new place for everyone and provides a new opportunity to make yourself stand out and be successful. Once you stand out, go to the teachers’ office hours, which changes their perception of you and shows them how much you want to succeed.

By Bryce Longoria

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