Shelby Ziccardi

Shelby Ziccardi '18



Degree and Class Year

BA ’18


Davis, California


Computer Science and Mathematics


Gender Minorities in STEM Club, Disabled Student Union, Programming Club, Symbolic and Quantitative Resource Center (SQRC) Peer Tutor, Student Academic Affairs Board (SAAB) Computer Science Representative

Overseas study

AIT Budapest, Hungary (non-L&C program)

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

Independent, Empowering, Opportunity

What has been your favorite class so far? How has it expanded your knowledge?

My favorite class so far is probably Geometry with Associate Professor Paul T. Allen. It was a course so different from any other math class I had ever taken and it forced me to think in a completely new way. I had to reorient myself and push my brain in ways I never had to before. I love challenges, and the ones that force me to see the world in a new way are always the most fun.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I knew I wanted a school where I couldn’t hide. I learned very early on that if a professor didn’t care about my learning, I definitely wouldn’t either. I needed the close contact with faculty and classmates that comes with a small liberal arts college. I also knew I wanted some rain and greenery (coming from the California central valley) to continue the hiking and camping I love so much. So, the environment in Portland was a huge draw. Lastly, what made my final decision was the students. The feeling you get when you walk around is that the students are so incredibly passionate, yet laid back at the same time. Lewis & Clark is where you can foster your passions and learn about everyone else’s too.

Have you had the opportunity to do research with a professor? What did you learn from that experience?

I haven’t done research with a Lewis & Clark professor but I was encouraged by my professors and department to apply for research positions on other campuses. I conducted research with a professor at USC last summer in a mixed reality lab where I had the opportunity to design my own research project and work with leaders in the field I want to go into one day. I have never learned so much so fast. It was an experience I would never have had without the support and resources provided to me by the L&C mathematical sciences department.

Describe both of your jobs on campus. How do you fit them into your schedule?

I actually have three positions here on campus. I tutor in the SQRC, work as a teaching assistant for an introductory computer science course, and work as a digital image library assistant in the Office of Public Affairs and Communications. Fitting all of that into my schedule along with a full course load is definitely not easy. It takes careful planning and extreme communication skills. I make sure to keep my hours below the load that I know I can handle, and work with my supervisors to carefully plan my shifts so that I can still make my professors’ office hours. Basically, I schedule everything: how much homework time I have each day and what I’m working on during every session. It also helps immensely that my supervisors are well aware that my academic commitments take priority and are so understanding when unplanned emergencies happen. It’s so important to know your limits and your priorities because you are the one in charge, and commitments you make often cannot be broken later.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

The walkway right after passing the Campus Safety office has a canopy of trees that mostly block your view of campus and instead you see Portland’s city lights at the end of a tunnel of foliage. It makes you feel like you’re in another world.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?

The food!

How did you decide on a major?

I absolutely love my department: the students, the staff, the faculty, the community. Once I experienced it, it wasn’t really a choice, it was like going home.

How do you manage stress?

I make sure to plan times to check out. Basically, I schedule time to turn off my phone, all social media, and either watch TV, read a (fun) book, or listen to music. It helps my brain reset and prepare for more work without getting overwhelmed.

Where do you find community on campus?

Mainly my department. We do a lot of formal community builder events, but our lounge is always a hub of students/professors/food/etc.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Make sure to visit and choose the school that feels right. But also don’t worry too much about your decision, it is not the end of the world if you decide to transfer. You can carve out a corner for yourself in just about any school.