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Ellie Oliver ’22

Meet the Majors

What started you on your path to studying Portuguese and Brazilian Studies?
I have always loved Brazilian musicians like Tim Maia, Caetano Veloso, Seu Jorge and Los Hermanos, so I’ve been interested in learning the language since I was little. My dad is my biggest academic inspiration, and he’s the reason I decided to start studying Portuguese in my sophomore year. Being able to speak with him in Portuguese has been an incredibly meaningful bonding experience, and I can’t wait to use my language skills on a trip with him someday!

Do you have a favorite saying or phrase? What does it mean?
My favorite word is probably “girassol,” which means sunflower. I’m writing my thesis about the representation of the Brazilian environment in reality television, so most of my favorite words are nature-related.

If another student was considering your major, what would you tell them?
Studying Portuguese at Smith is one of the best decisions I’ve made, because the department is so supportive, encouraging and fun. In my experience, the department places an emphasis on art, from street art to music to literature, and everything in between. So by taking Portuguese at Smith, you learn much more than grammar or vocabulary, you also learn about Lusophone musicians, authors, educators, filmmakers and artists.

By taking Portuguese at Smith, you learn much more than grammar or vocabulary.

What do you see as a potential future dream job or career?
My dream is to one day open a pottery studio near the beach. In the meantime, I would love to work in education, either in admissions or advising!

Where has been your favorite spot on campus to relax? What spot will you miss the most?
It might be cliché, but my favorite spot on campus is the hill overlooking the pond. When walking from the quad to class, it's nice to stop for a moment and admire the view. The place I’ll miss the most is my room, which I've decorated with postcards from my mom, my favorite books and plants on my windowsills.

What’s your all-time (big or small) favorite Smith memory?
Once during my sophomore year there was a snowstorm, and I brought my emotional support animal (ESA) Ruby outside around midnight to look at the snow. It was one of the first times she had ever seen snow, since she was just a puppy at the time. Watching her run around in excitement under the glow of the streetlamp as the snow fell around us felt like something out of a holiday movie.

What’s one thing you wish you could tell your first-year self about your Smith experience?
For my first year, I went to Lehigh in PA, so I wasn’t at Smith. If I could go back and tell myself something I would give myself a pep talk to help me get through my anxiety related to transferring schools.

What do you think has been the most “Smithie” thing you’ve done in life so far?
The most “Smithie” moment of my experience here has been eating one of the coveted Tyler cannoli, sitting on my window seat overlooking the quad and listening to someone blast Lorde from their car stereo.

About Ellie

Hometown: Wellfleet, Cape Cod & Philips Harbour, Nova Scotia

House: Jordan

Pronouns: she/her

Portuguese and Anthropology