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21st-century scholar

November 12, 2012

Olivia Capello

Name and Class Year: Olivia Cappello, 2014
Hometown: Woburn, MA
High School: Austin Preparatory School, Reading, MA
Major: Government
Minor: Biology
Campus Activities: Smith Democrats, Peer Sexuality Educators, Chapin House Council, Gold Key Guide


Last Movie Seen in Theaters: Trouble with the Curve

Favorite Movie: Persepolis

Favorite Song: Changes all the time, but right now it's "Same Love" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Smith House: Chapin

Last Book Read: Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

Favorite Book: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

Hobbies/Interests: public health, food, reading, running, reproductive justice

Favorite Place on Campus: The Smith Botanical Garden and Lyman Conservatory

Favorite Campus Dining Location: Chapin, of course!

Fondest Smith Memory So Far: All of my activities with the Smith Democrats have been essential to my Smith experience, but a campaign trip my first year really stands out. We had gone to Plymouth, MA, to work on Governor Patrick's campaign the weekend of my birthday. After a long day of canvassing, everyone surprised me with a cake! That trip sealed my commitment to Smith Dems, and the women that I went on that trip with are now my closest friends at Smith.

Another favorite memory is attending the launch of the Women in Public Service Project in December 2012. I not only saw several of my idols, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but I met many amazing Smith alumnae who work for the State Department. The entire experience was really inspiring and confirmed to me the value of women's colleges. It also increased my desire to engage in public service.

Favorite Quote: "The greatest question in life is, 'What good will I do with it?'" —Benjamin Franklin

Where did you grow up and what was life like there?
I grew up in Woburn, MA, which is one of the oldest towns in Massachusetts. It is home to the oldest church steeple in the country, and our library is in the National Registry of Historic Places! It was great to grow up in an area with a lot of activity and such easy access to Boston. The city is only twenty minutes away by car, and my family took full advantage of that by going to museums and events often.

How did you discover Smith?
My father's cousin graduated from Smith in 1986, and my parents brought me for Preview Weekend because she loved it here and has done so well in her career. It was the first college visit I went on, but I left extremely impressed. Smith quickly became the standard by which I measured other schools and stayed at the top of my list throughout the application process.

What were your first impressions of the College? Do you find they are still true today?
I knew from the start that Smith was a place for strong, intelligent women, and I thought that attending a women's college would be empowering. I did not fully appreciate that until I actually became a student at Smith. There is such a great emphasis on educating women to be leaders, and that has made all the difference in how I view myself and my future.

What Smith professors, coaches or advisors have inspired you?
My STRIDE (Student Research in Departments) advisor, Professor of Chemistry Kevin Shea, has been a great source of support. In addition to giving me a great research opportunity in his lab, Professor Shea helped me explore my options at Smith and beyond. While I did not end up majoring in chemistry, he is still my pre-medical advisor.

My major advisor, Greg White, is one of my favorite professors. I took International Politics with him my first year, and it was instrumental in my decision to be a government major. Greg is always so excited about what he is teaching, and he loves discussing it with his students. He really looks out for his advisees, and on more than one occasion he has forwarded amazing opportunities to me. I feel that I can talk to Greg not only about my academic and career interests but also about what is going on in my life. He is a fabulous resource for me, and I really treasure my relationship with him.

What are your plans after Smith?
My plan is to go to medical school after working in health policy for a couple of years. The United States has huge health care disparities, and I am very interested in practicing in underserved communities. I plan to focus primarily on women's health.

What perspective would you share with alumnae?
Every day I have been at Smith has given me new perspectives on the world and what I can do to change it. I am so grateful for all the opportunities that the college has provided for me, from my amazing professors to my Praxis internship. None of that is possible without the generosity of our alumnae. Gifts to the Smith Fund provide me and many of my friends with substantial financial aid packages that allow us to attend a world-class institution. Because I know how important this funding is, I have already given back to the Smith Fund. While it is only a small amount, I know that my gift will join thousands of others to help young women like me and my peers continue to attend Smith.