Ashleen Smith

Ashleen Smith BA '23



Degree and Class Year

BA ’23


Madras, Oregon






Financial Aid and Admissions student worker

Overseas study

Siena, Italy, Spring 2023

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

Adventurous, Globally-focused, Nurturing

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

I think my favorite class that I’ve taken at L&C was Major Periods and Issues in English Literature, taught by Professor Rishona Zimring. It was my first ever college English class. I came into college knowing I was going to be an English major, but I was nervous about what the classes would be like. As a first-generation student, I was worried about fitting in or not sounding “smart enough.” Stepping into Rishona’s class felt immediately familiar and comfortable. Discussion and exploration were very encouraged, and it was just a great introduction to the department and to the liberal arts in general. She was so open to new ideas and I felt so welcomed and heard. I learned so much about the texts we discussed, but more importantly, it set me up to think and write about them in new ways and to have the confidence to share my thoughts.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

Honestly, it wasn’t anything particularly profound for me. I knew I wanted a liberal arts school for the small size and wide-ranging approach, and I knew I wanted to be in the Portland area. I love it here, it’s the perfect distance from home without being too far away, and I spent a lot of time here growing up and wanted the opportunity to explore the area on my own more. L&C, in particular, was attractive to me because of its beautiful campus, its excellent English program, and its warm and welcoming environment. I got accepted to L&C, and they gave me a great financial aid package. I committed before I ever visited the campus, which felt like such a huge risk. But when I did visit about a month after committing, I immediately knew I was home. I just fell completely in love. It worked out perfectly, and the past few years have only confirmed that I made the right choice.

How do you describe the liberal arts?

I would describe the liberal arts as expansive and supportive. You’re given the opportunity to explore a wide range of subjects, as well as the support to further dive into your personal passions. The liberal arts make it so easy to personalize your education around what inspires and interests you, while also getting you out of your comfort zone.

Where do you find community on campus?

I find community on campus in the English department. It’s so amazing to be able to spend time with professors and classmates who have similar passions. It creates an instant sense of belonging.

Which residence halls have you lived in? How would you describe the hall’s personality?

During my freshman year, I lived in Copeland. I would describe it as diverse. It’s the largest hall on campus so you get a lot of different people with different interests and personality types living within a few doors of each other, even if you’re separate from them. It’s also where a lot of first-year students live, so it’s nice to feel like you’re living with others who are figuring things out as well. Most of my friends also lived in Copeland my first year, so it was great to be in the same building as them. I also lived in Manzanita (Manzi), last year. Manzi is a small hall, which I appreciated. I would describe it as feeling connected and relaxed. I knew the names of everyone who lived in my hallway, and we’d have little conversations when we ran into each other in the common areas. I currently live in the East apartments. The apartments are great because they allow for more independent living than a residence hall while also giving the benefit of being close to all the resources and activities the campus has to offer.

What is/was the best thing about living on campus?

Living on campus is great because of how close you are to everything! Friends, classes, the library, your professors, events. It makes it really easy to feel connected to everything that’s happening around campus and to be a part of the community. It’s also just such a gorgeous environment to get to live in. There are so many great spots on campus to study outside when the weather is nice, and I love my morning walks to class!

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?

I’m very excited to be going on the Siena, Italy, program next spring. I chose this program because it complemented both my major and minor really nicely. Italy is a hugely significant location in the Classical world. It’s also a location that was frequented by many important figures in the modernist literary movement, which is the area of focus within my major. This program is an amazing opportunity to be immersed in a new culture while also furthering my personal passions.

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

I have two professors on campus that I consider to be mentors, Associate Professor Gordon Kelly in the Classics department and Professor Rishona Zimring in English. I’ve taken classes with both of them since my first year. Gordon has really nurtured my interest in the classics and has helped me personalize my major in a way that reflects my passions. Rishona has been wonderful in helping me develop a focus within my major and in supporting me in developing my research and writing skills. Both of these professors have been understanding and supportive during times when I’ve struggled. I know they genuinely care about my well-being, both academically and in general, and they’ve become integral parts of my support system on campus.