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Aug. 12, 2010

Look Who's Coming to Smith College this Fall


Smith will welcome 748 new students during Opening Convocation at 7 p.m. on Sept. 6, selected from among 4,015 applicants, the most in college history. Among them: a clown, late-night television regular and a phantom valentine.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – February nights in Montpelier, Vt., can be a bit chilly, admits Izabel Nielsen. But that did not stop the incoming first-year student from papering the town red one night each year.

IzabelSince she was in grade school, Nielsen has been a force in bringing the anonymous “Valentine Phantom” to life by posting thousands of ruby red hearts on windows, doorways, mailboxes and fence posts around the city.

“At midnight on Valentine’s Eve, under cover of night and chilling temperatures, a few of us secretly plastered Montpelier… uniting a community, erasing boundaries and raising the spirit of the city,” said Nielsen. It was a secret guarded closely by Neilsen -- an otherwise quite public poet, dancer and self-employed caterer -- and her co-conspirators.

Nielsen is among some 641 talented, high-achieving and vibrant first-year students, and an additional 68 transfer and 39 non-traditional age students, who will enter Smith in the fall of 2010. In all, 4,015 students applied to Smith’s Class of 2014. In addition to Nielsen, the college’s newest students include the following notable young women.

The Class of 2014

Maria Cecilia Gonzalez of San Salvador, El Salvador
Gonzalez is among the 17 percent of students in the Class of 2014 who are from families in which neither parent graduated from a four-year college.

MariaNot only is Gonzalez a multi-instrument musician and a four-year member of a National Tournament Champion Knowledge Bowl team, but she is also an avid reader. This, despite the fact that, Gonzalez says, “I am constantly being deprived of good books… With most of the resources in our national treasury being devoted to fighting violence and poverty, we really don’t have the money to spend on public libraries.” As her English teacher explains, “She is the kind of student who reminds me of why I wanted to teach in the first place. Her excitement for the class made me put even more effort into my lesson plans.”


Kamila Rahimi, Montezuma, N.M., and Afghanistan
Rahimi is a citizen of Afghanistan, which is one of 28 foreign countries represented in this class. 

Rahimi’s father, who had been a part of the Afghan military, was killed by the Taliban in 1996, leaving her illiterate mother to raise three children. As a result, she spent time in a Pakistani refugee camp and did not go to school until the age of nine. As a Davis Scholar from the United World College, Rahimi is committed to earning her degree and going back to Afghanistan to educate girls. She says she would like “to bring a positive change to the education system of my country.”

Kellye Rowland of Seattle, Wash., entering as an Ada Comstock Scholar
Rowland is one of 39 Adas who will enter Smith this year.

Known as Kellye to some, Rowland is known by Monica Lewinsky by most after comically portraying the infamous White House intern for two years on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” After taking the last few years to be a Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society member at Seattle Central Community College, she plans to major in theater at Smith.

Briana Murphy of Wasilla, Alaska

For eight weeks every summer, Murphy works at her family’s fish camp, rising at 4 a.m. and enduring the long hours, the physical reality and the mental exhaustion of a fisherwoman. During other times of the year, Murphy can be found ashore as the co-founder of “Tuesday Talk with Teens,” a weekly political discussion group.

Francesca Petronio of New York, N.Y.

Having been the captain of and a cross examiner for her high school debate team, Petronio has had plenty of opportunity to be serious. Her opportunities to be funny, however, are even more plentiful as a graduate of N.Y. Goofs Ultimate Clown School. Clowning around is actually what led her to Smith. “I first heard of Smith while schmoozing at a comedy club where I had a serious discussion with a fellow clown who happened to be a Smith alumna,” she said.

Ariana Ehsan of  Vacaville, Calif.


Three years of high school does not seem like enough time to accomplish all that Ehsan has accomplished. She is the founder and lead tutor for Head 4 Success Tutoring center, a volunteer for Girls Inc., and a boxer at her local gym. Planning to pursue biological sciences as a college major, Ehsan was attracted to Smith’s Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP), which she attended in 2008 after fundraising the $2,000 cost of the program. She graduated from high school a year early and is the first in her family to attend a four-year college.


Kylie Boazman of Boise, Idaho

kylieNot too many young people can claim the title of “wish-granter,” but Boazman has done so six times. One of the wishes she granted on behalf of the Make-a-Wish Foundation was that of an 11-year-old boy with spinal muscular atrophy who wanted to direct a cinematic spoof on “Star Wars.” Her community service work has also included collaborating with a group of peers to write IMessages: A Practical Cancer Guide for Teens by Teens. The book was developed from a series of interviews with teenagers, social workers and health professionals and is intended to inspire and support teens dealing with cancer.


Nadia Belkin of Lakewood, Colo.

An adopted Indian child raised by a Tanzanian-born Muslim mother and a Jewish father from Brooklyn, Belkin is far from a “typical” American teenager. After earning her International Baccalaureate diploma from Lakewood High School, Belkin chose to defer her admission to Smith one year in order to pursue her dancing career with Colorado Ballet. This fall, she’ll join the Smith community with hopes of studying international relations.

Ellice Amanna of Greenfield, Mass., entering as an Ada Comstock Scholar

After being employed for 20 years in journalism and politics, and taking an 18-year hiatus from work to raise four children, Amanna is pursuing her undergraduate degree. She hopes to eventually use her education to return to politics and work on social justice issues in Washington, D.C. , where she has already made inroads through her work as the Chief of Staff to the Supervisor of the Providence District and the Chief of Staff to Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Congressperson Gerald E. Connolly wrote, “Without her guidance and good counsel I would not be in the U.S. Congress today.”

Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. One of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,800 students from nearly every state and 62 other countries.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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