Mila Wolpert

Mila Wolpert BA '19



Degree and Class Year

BA ’19


Santa Monica, California


History and French Studies (double)


Teaching Excellence Program, French Club (president), Art Club

Overseas study

Paris, France

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Intimate, Supportive, Inspiring

Life After L&C, June 2019 Update

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for grad school?

L&C prepared me to be a confident applicant for grad school, and my experiences will surely guide me to be poised, knowledgeable, and self-reliant. My studies, my interactions with professors, and my relationships with my friends have all given me perspective on what it means to be a confident and respectful student, learner, and listener.

What have you been doing since graduation?

I am relaxing this summer, and writing applications for the year following my graduate program. I am applying to two art history master’s programs at the University of Cambridge and at the University of Oxford, as well as a 1-year graduate internship at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

What are your career goals?

I hope to one day be the director of a major museum or be an influential figure in the cultural heritage world, working in preserving historic monuments and artifacts throughout the world. 

Now that you’re out of college, what would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?

To be a caring individual who listens intently, thinks deeply, and speaks wisely.

Life at L&C

What’s your favorite class? How has it expanded your knowledge?

My favorite class, which was not easy to choose, is Associate Professor Molly Robinson Kelly’s FREN 410, Libertés, Égalités, Fraternités. This is the class that leads into the French Studies capstone course. It wasn’t until this class that I became aware of some of my favorite French authors. I was inspired by Trois Contes (Three Tales), a work by Gustave Flaubert, and soon realized that I am fascinated by his writing style. The imagery in his books is riveting. I am thankful that I can graduate from L&C knowing that I have come to be deeply immersed in the study of French and Francophone literature. Molly also prioritised that we think about what “liberté, égalité, fraternité” means in today’s world, especially how each word in this saying can be transformed to be plural. I greatly appreciated the strong theoretical framework that worked as a foundation to every reading on which we embarked. In the context of each text, the class thought about what liberty would mean for diverse people, and in turn, what equality and fraternity would mean for these people as well.

Who is your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?

I have two mentors on campus, Associate Professor of History Benjamin Westervelt and Associate Professor of French Isabelle DeMarte. The two of them enable me to feel confident, eager, and active on campus and beyond. Professor Westervelt is my confidant. He continues to prove to me that kindness and sincerity are essential to any partnership, and that intellectual inspiration cannot be passed on without these qualities. I took HIST 223, War/Society in Premodern Europe, and HIST 300, Historical Materials, with Professor Westervelt. In both classes he demonstrated an engaged, interactive, and almost theatrical quality to his teaching style. He brings life to the classroom the moment he walks through the door, and his lectures are never short of entertaining. It is clear that Westervelt cares about his students’ experiences at L&C. Isabelle DeMarte is an extremely warm and vibrant presence in my life at L&C. I first had her as a professor in FREN 321, Introduction to Literature, the second semester of my first year, and now I am in her class three years later as a second semester senior; it is a true full circle experience. Isabelle encourages me to be my best self, and sometimes has to remind me how to best acknowledge my qualities. She makes you think about how you express yourself, and how you put yourself out in the world in the most positive light. I feel very lucky to have met, worked with, and learned from Isabelle; I do not think I will meet many other people like her during my life. Above all, Professors Westervelt and DeMarte are my mentors because they make me feel heard.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I was interested in the international focus. I am half-Serbian, half-American, so coming to a college that nurtured a diverse student body was crucial to me. I have met a handful of other former-Yugoslav students on campus, some turning out to be my closest friends, for which I am very thankful. Being the president of the French club also enables me to meet people from around the world, particularly Francophone students. I have become close to a Lebanese International Affairs major who has made my time here much more meaningful, especially in regards to leading a club whose main purpose is to bring the Francophone world together. I am graduating L&C with a vast network of international students, which I will cherish for many years to come.

If you studied overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience so far?

I studied abroad in Paris, France during Spring 2018. I chose to study in Paris because it would enrich my French Studies major, but also because it was in line with my future aspirations. The abundance of world-renowned museums and artistic organisations in Paris enticed me, and I hoped that I could one day return to work in Paris. Fortunately, this desire of mine ended up coming true! I worked with the Cultural Heritage Office at the U.S. Embassy in Paris for three months during summer 2018, right as I was done with the study abroad program. The program assured that I was comfortable in Paris in any capacity—talking to Parisian natives, using the Métro system, attending concerts, and dining at restaurants. My abroad program instilled a greater sense of independence in me that I would not be able to achieve on L&C’s campus. It was necessary for me to travel to a city where I was not fully comfortable. When I came back to L&C for my senior year, I felt a greater sense of confidence than ever before, and felt very inspired and motivated to commence my last year on campus.

How did Lewis & Clark made you more confident and set you up for success?

I think the 12:1 student:professor class ratio is key in this. In most of my classes, this ratio has been even lower. With every year spent at L&C, you become closer to the students and professors who surround you. Each semester, I walk into my first day of class and recognize friendly faces from semesters prior, making the classroom experience much more intimate and approachable. Thus, I have always felt very comfortable to speak and discuss in class. The professors who you grow close to and perhaps end up taking multiple classes with make the experience much more constructive as well. Not only each semester, but in each class every semester, your confidence as a student is nurtured and strengthened. This is unique to L&C, and I am forever thankful to have chosen a college that enables this kind of close-knit learning. My confidence as an intellectual and as a learner has greatly developed during my four years here, and it is noticeable to people outside of L&C, whether that be an employer, or just any person you happen to meet. People will be impressed by your confidence coming from L&C, and you will have the opportunity to exhibit the various lessons you learned from being a student there.   

What’s next for you?

I will be starting an MPhil (Master of Philosophy) at the University of Cambridge in fall 2019. My particular study is an Heritage Studies in the Archaeology department. I am beyond excited! My History major has set me up for success for studying at a master’s level in a subject that is different than, but directly related to, my majors at L&C. I am eager to continue sharpening my research writing skills. Since this master’s is only one year long, this summer, I will be applying to second master’s programs at Cambridge and Oxford Universites, as well as a year-long internship at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. I will also be applying to a research Fulbright in France at the end of this summer. My Fulbright research proposal stems directly from the work I did at the U.S. Embassy in Paris during summer 2018.   

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Do not be scared to change your major! I came in wanting to study International Affairs since I was sixteen years old, and history ended up falling perfectly into my lap. I wouldn’t change my History major for the world. The history professors and students have taught me so much over my four years at L&C. Also, talk to juniors and seniors about possible courses to take, what to get involved in on campus, and what study abroad trips to possibly go on! There is not enough helpful information being spread around campus, when it so readily can be! L&C is special because people of all ages are friends with each other, so do not be intimidated at all by the older students on campus!

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

My favorite spot is the grassy area of the Albany Quadrangle. One of the structures was part of the original Frank Estate, and is catalogued on the National Register of Historic Places. I remember during my first tour of L&C during spring of 2015, when I was a senior in high school, my tour guide mentioned that Albany Quadrangle is unique because it used to be horse stables. Since then, I have always been infatuated with its architecture. I like to eat lunch with a big group of my friends on the lawn facing Smith Hall, and enjoy the great sunlight in the early fall and late spring. I enjoy how this spot is simultaneously intimate and private, but also open.