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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Campus Life September 28, 2020

Sophie Friend ’24: Delving into Design

Sophie Friend near Bryant Park in NYC
When it comes to intellectual pursuits, Sophie Friend ’24 says she’s never been able to decide whether she has “more of a math brain or an English brain.”

Happily, Friend—who is one of 528 first-year Smith students this fall—has resolved her dilemma through her passion for architecture.

“Architecture is just such a perfect blend of history and design, science and math,” she says. “And I love that there are so many styles. I can’t understand anyone who would want to see just one style of architecture.”

She enjoys looking at buildings and identifying their features. At Nauset Regional High School on Cape Cod, Friend not only took all of the classes her school offered in architecture, she also helped teach an architectural design course in her senior year.

She discovered that classroom teaching requires a high degree of flexibility.

“What I had planned to do in class was not working, so I had to start all over with a different approach,” says Friend. “Okay, so they don’t want to work through the entire timeline of architectural history. They want to make stuff! So how about we build some models? It was a good lesson for me.”

Friend first heard about Smith from her mother, Melissa Alves, who is a graduate of Springfield College. Friend was already leaning toward Smith when she learned that acclaimed architectural designer Maya Lin is designing the college’s new Neilson Library.

“I almost had a heart attack,” says Friend, with a laugh. “I’ve been obsessed with Maya Lin since 8th grade. Even before I discovered architecture, I always liked her.”

In preparation for her studies this semester, Friend’s parents helped her set up a mini-architecture studio at home in Brewster, Massachusetts, complete with sketching equipment, a drawing board “and all the things you’d see in a studio classroom.”

In addition to a class in architectural design, Friend is taking an art history course, “Gothic in the Modern Imagination.”

She’s also been inspired by her first-year seminar with assistant professor Paul Joseph López Oro, “#BlackLivesMatterEverywhere,” about the African Diaspora.

“I grew up Cape Verdean on Cape Cod and I never had a Black teacher—not even as a sub,” says Friend. “I’m learning so much in this class. It’s having a big impact on me.”

Even in remote learning mode, Friend says, Smith has lived up to her expectations.

“Smith feels authentic,” she says. “I’ve been surprised to find how similar it is to what I signed up for—what I expect my professors and classes to be like.”

She is looking forward to connecting virtually with classmates this semester—and to a time in the future when the community can be on campus once more.

The remote environment may be “a different way to start” her Smith experience, Friend says, “But it’s not how it’s going to end.”