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Sierra Steinwert ’23J

Meet the Majors

Other clubs, sports and activities you’d like to mention:
WOZQ Specialties Department Director, Co-Pitch of the Noteables

Describe Exercise and Sport Studies (ESS) for someone who has never heard of your field before. 
ESS looks at exercise and sports from every lens possible! We study psychology, sociology, history, biology, chemistry, and everything you can think of as it relates to sports.

Did you ever have trouble deciding on a major/minor? What, ultimately, helped you decide?
When I first arrived at Smith, I had no idea what I wanted to study. What helped me decide was my advisor. I initially took a class with Erica Tibbetts in my second semester and was fascinated by ESS. However, ESS does not have a major program, so I spoke with my advisor and they were able to help me create my major with exactly what I wanted to study!

What I love most about ESS is that it focuses on holistic well-being—not only for athletes, but for everyone.

What's one thing about ESS that people often get wrong?
People often think that ESS is just about high-level, competitive athletes. What I love most about ESS is that it focuses on holistic well-being—not only for athletes, but for everyone—and how we can support physical, psychological, and emotional well-being through sports.

>Is there a style of dance you wish more people knew about?
I grew up being a professional and competitive hula dancer (no, not hula hooping; the traditional dance from Hawai'i) for 14 years. Because I spent so much time doing such a culturally rich dance form, I have loved getting the opportunity to take classes like tango, salsa, West African, and flamenco here at Smith.

How do each of your fields help inform each other? 
I have a special interest within my major in studying “aesthetic sports” such as dance, gymnastics, and figure skating, which score competitors based on ability as well as appearance. This is particularly fascinating to me because these athletes not only have to perform well, they have to look a certain way while they do it. Attempting to take apart what creates, perpetuates, and changes this kind of judging—and whether or not they are useful measures—is a very complicated and interesting process.

What’s your favorite Smith memory?
Making a giant Thanksgiving feast with my friends/roommates in our Friedman apartment when we were back on campus together in the fall of 2022!

What was your favorite class outside of your major?
I took both “Intro to Set Design” as well as the seminar called “Production Design” with Ed Check and they were some of my favorite classes! I had never done any sort of architectural drafting before and it was so different from anything else I had ever done. It was a fascinating combination of artistic interpretation and practical building skills.

What spot on campus will you miss the most? 
The practice rooms in Sage Hall, particularly the ones in the basement. The little rooms with a piano in them and heavy wooden doors always feel like a good place to hide away from the world and practice some music!

If you could tell an incoming first-year anything about Smith, what would it be?
Don't take anything too seriously! Classes and grades are important, but Smith has a great network of people to help you if you're struggling. Try to meet as many people as you can, join a bunch of clubs, and figure out where your place is at Smith because there's somewhere for everyone, it just takes a little time to find that place for some people—including myself!

What do you think has been the most “Smithie” thing you’ve done in life so far?
I'm guilty of cutting all my hair off, a.ka. the classic “Smith Chop,” and I have absolutely no regrets!

What do you wish older alums knew about the class of 2023?
The class of 2023J and 2023 are some of the most resilient people I've ever met. We had COVID hit in the middle of our college experience and many of us came out of it with altered graduation timelines along with all the other personal things we went through during the pandemic. Determined and resilient are the two words I would use to describe this amazing group of people.

About Sierra

Hometown: Oakland, California

House: Off campus (previously Cushing and Ninomiya)

Dance Kinesiology