Brenna Ketchum

Brenna Ketchum BA '23



Degree and Class Year

BA ’23


Fort Collins, Colorado


International Affairs


Hispanic Studies


Third Culture Kid, Dallaire committee

Overseas study

Spain: Granada (Language Intensive)

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

Global, Connected, Green

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

One of my favorite classes so far has been Spanish Literature in Translation with Associate Professor Matthieu Raillard. I took it in the spring of 2021—one of those hybrid learning semesters. The topic of the class was Argentine authors, focusing on short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and Luisa Valenzuela. It taught me to think in such a different way about literature, thought, and the world around us. Borges is now one of my favorite authors, and I am always telling people about the magic of Borges and this class.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

There were many factors in my decision to come to L&C: the Third Culture Kid network, the international affairs program, and the overseas opportunities, among others. It felt important for me to find a small, liberal arts school in the Pacific Northwest (where my parents grew up, but I had only visited) that would fit my needs and wants in terms of global education. Lewis & Clark checked all those boxes for me (it didn’t hurt that the campus is lovely).

How do you describe the liberal arts?

With the liberal arts, you have a chance to explore so many topics with so many lenses. You can apply social justice to biology, global economics to literature, or anthropology to art history. Each semester, I am able to find numerous similarities and crossovers between my classes, even when I am taking courses from multiple distinct departments. The liberal arts system grants opportunities to see those connections in studying a variety of topics, which I really appreciate.

Where do you find community on campus?

Most groups and spaces where I find community on campus are of an international nature. In my first few years at L&C, I became heavily involved with the Third Culture Kid (TCK) community, and I was the TCK intern in the International Students and Scholars office my sophomore year. That network was foundational to my identity as an L&C student during my first two years, and I am so grateful for the friendships and connections I have retained since then. I also work with the Academic English Studies (AES) department as a classroom assistant, and it is such a beautiful community of students and faculty. Finally, I am a part of the Dallaire/Graham Scholarship committee which provides students scholarships to the AES program, and I enjoy connecting with the staff and faculty on the committee as well as the scholars themselves.

Which residence halls have you lived in? How would you describe the hall’s personality? What is/was the best thing about living on campus?

I lived in Akin my first year, Copeland my sophomore year, and in a West apartment for the first half of my junior year (before I went abroad). Akin was perfect for me during my first year, because of its small size (great for meeting new people), great location (close to Templeton Campus Center and academic campus), and it has walk-in closets (self-explanatory). I also like that Akin is targeted to international students and TCKs with the Multicultural Living-Learning Community, because I met many close friends there. Copeland has a different atmosphere, with each wing having its own personality. My year living there was during online/hybrid classes, so there were far fewer events and community-building opportunities. I would say that Copeland is a great fit for newer students who are hoping to make lots of connections on campus. Finally, the apartments are great, but there is less interest and fewer opportunities to get to know your neighbors. I lived in a two-person apartment, which I really enjoyed. I’ve lived with the same roommate for all three years, and she is definitely the best thing about living on campus. L&C paired us together randomly for our first year, and I just hope that other students are paired with roommates as well as we were.

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

As I write this, I am studying abroad in Granada, Spain. I am actually a student worker in the Overseas and Off-Campus Programs office, so I had lots of resources and help to aid me in choosing a program. I came into Lewis & Clark knowing that I wanted to continue studying Spanish, and that I wanted to apply that knowledge to an overseas program. Lewis & Clark offers Spanish language-intensive programs in Mexico, Chile, and Spain; and the Spain program ended up fitting my wants and needs for a semester abroad. Even though living so far away from my family for five months was difficult, I am so glad that I went to Spain. I feel that my post-grad opportunities have increased immensely and my desire to move abroad again has been heightened. I also returned to the U.S. with new and beautiful connections to people, Spanish history and culture, and food (of course).

Have you been involved with one of our symposia, as an organizer or participant? What was the experience like? How did the event complement your academic experience?

As the TCK intern within the ISS office, part of my job involved planning and hosting the TCK Symposium in the spring. It is one of L&C’s smaller symposia, but we have hosted a number of influential TCK speakers, authors, and educators over the years. Mine was the first TCK symposium to be held online, which had its challenges, but the experience taught me a lot about event organizing, planning, and recruiting. Personally, I learned so much from our external keynote speaker and our L&C panel about my own journey as a TCK, and I hope that other TCKs at Lewis & Clark benefitted as well.

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

I would say that Kaitlin Sommerfeld is a great mentor to me on campus. She is the assistant director of Overseas and Off-Campus Programs, and many students interact with her on a daily basis. She hired me in March 2020, about a week before everything shut down. In being online, and then hybrid in person and online, and then back on campus, she has always worked hard for students and has always supported me. I love working with her, and I cannot wait to see her when I come back to Portland in fall.

Did you visit campus before deciding to come to L&C? How did your visit influence your decision to attend?

I visited campus a few months before I applied, and it helped me realize that I couldn’t imagine myself on any other campus. I worry that it’s superficial to say that I came here partially for the campus, but it’s true (and I’m sure other L&C students can agree). I grew up for part of my childhood in southern India, and Lewis & Clark reminds me so much of that environment—always green, rainy, and so beautiful in the spring. It felt like coming home.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

There are so many factors to consider in picking a college. You never know how you’re actually going to feel until you move in and start school. So, I just advise that you pick somewhere that feels right, that feels like it could be a home for you. That’s how I felt the moment I stepped onto Palatine Hill, and I am so glad that I went with my gut and came to Lewis & Clark.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

I really enjoy walking around campus and the surrounding neighborhood, so I would say that the walk around the edge of campus from the apartments/graduate campus to the law school (then through to Tryon Creek) is my favorite. There are never very many people, and very few cars on a weekend morning. Very tranquil.

How did you decide on a major?

I came to L&C partially for the international affairs major, so I was fairly confident that I was going to enjoy it and stick with it. I held an open mind in my first year and took classes from many other departments to see if I would prefer anything different. I ended up staying with international affairs, and I am happy with my choice. I hope that prospective students and first (or second) years know, however, that it is totally okay to change majors—a great benefit of having general education requirements is that you can take classes in numerous departments and find what works best for you (or just find a new hobby or interest).

How has Lewis & Clark changed you?

Lewis & Clark has given me options, even if I don’t know exactly what I will choose for my future. I feel that I will leave here with great mentors, connections, and options to start a career or further my education.