Taryn O'Connell, Bates College
Taryn O'Connell made an immediate impact on the Bates College women's basketball team, becoming a vital member of the Bobcats' rotation beginning with the first game of her first year. In the third game of her career, she poured in 21 points against the University of Southern Maine. The 5-foot-10 forward remained a rock-solid contributor to the team for four years, finishing with the 28th most points in program history, with 684. O'Connell even set a team record as a senior in knocking down 90.0 percent of her free throws on the season.
Along the way, the Georgetown, Mass., native was building an impressive body of work in her academic studies at Bates. A major in environmental studies and minor in history, O'Connell was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for work in Malaysia.
O'Connell had her first meaningful encounter with an unfamiliar culture as a summer basketball coach working with young Somali women in Lewiston, Maine. "Basketball was the medium through which I became a part of a community that initially treated me as an outsider," she says, "and I’m grateful for the power that sports had to teach me about my players’ culture, as well as providing a means to share my own."
O'Connell is drawn to Malaysia's environmental and religious diversity, and looks forward to the opportunity to develop skills there that, she says, "will enable me to think and act as a global citizen." After Malaysia, she plans to attend a graduate program in environmental law or policy, and ultimately have her career in national or international environmental work.
O'Connell's senior thesis, titled "Place, Class and Culture: A Case Study of Pollution Debates in Lewiston, Maine, 1953-1955" dealt with the 1950s debate over Androscoggin River pollution in Lewiston.