One in 2000: Liz Frank ’16


We sat down with self-proclaimed board game fanatic and science fiction nerd Liz Frank ’16 to talk about oranges, Lord of the Rings, and the struggles of being a short person in a big world.

So what are some of your hobbies?

I really like to play board games and read. Those are probably my two biggest hobbies. I read almost exclusively science fiction.

And what are some of your favorite board games? 

My two favorites are probably War of the Ring and Twilight Struggle. … They are both two-player games. In War of the Ring, one person plays as the shadow and the other player plays as the free peoples of middle earth, and you essentially go through the entire war of the ring from Lord of the Rings, and Twilight Struggle is a Cold War game where one player plays as the United States and the other is the USSR, and you go through all the stages of the Cold War, with different events happening and basically you have to try to win the arms race and build bombs and stuff.

Would you say you’re competitive? 

Probably, but there are some games that I just don’t mind losing. They’re too fun.

And your siblings, your family, they make fun of you a lot, right? 

Yeah, mostly for being short. It started with these things my brother calls “Elizabeth doors,” which were any small doors he found, and he would take photos of them with him standing next to them, usually squatting, and send them to me from wherever he was. Like when he was abroad in Russia, he sent them to me. But then the term “Weenie” was assigned to me and has to do with anything that I do that is weak or small-person related. Like not eating enough or just being short.

Do you not like the name “Weenie?”

I wouldn’t say I like it, I suppose it’s appropriate given my last name is Frank, and weenie is a hotdog also.

Is it hard for you, being short?

Yeah, sometimes, yeah. Things aren’t made for short people. Although I will say that on my gymnastics team I was considered tall. Sort of…

How did you get into gymnastics?

Well, my parents put me in tumblebugs classes when I was two. I’ve seen videos, and I definitely didn’t have natural talent. But I refused help on many instances and would fall a lot. Apparently I started walking when I was seven or eight months old, so I was this really tiny girl, one foot tall, with tiny bruises and cuts and stuff because I fell so much.

How did you get more involved?

Yeah, when I was seven or eight, the coaches from the team at the gym asked me if I wanted to try out, and so I went the next week to a practice, and they said I could compete if I wanted. And apparently at my first meet, which I actually do remember, I couldn’t compete on bars because I couldn’t do enough of it by myself, and I fell off the beam like five times, but you know, I practiced a lot. I got pretty into it throughout middle and into high school. … [and] I competed at nationals from level five to eight.

So like Stick It?

Yeah, exactly like Stick It. The most accurate movie I’ve ever seen … No, I’m just kidding. But when I was in middle school, we did quote that movie a lot in practice.

Is that your favorite movie?

My favorite movie, well, is of course Lord of the Rings. Last weekend, I went with my family to Lincoln Center in New York, where they were showing the movies one a night with a live orchestra doing the music for the movies. It was pretty sweet. It was amazing. I totally geeked out the whole time, translating the Elvish for my dad when appropriate.

Do you speak Elvish?

I don’t speak Elvish, no, though I totally wish I did. But I know a few words in each dialect.

There’s more than one dialect?

Yeah, the two main dialects that Tolkien came up with are Sindarin and Quenya.

Is that one of your life goals?

To learn Elvish? Sure!

What are some of your other life goals? What do you want to be when you grow up?

Well, when I was little I wanted to be an astronaut, but I’m too short for that. But actually I want to be a doctor at some point. Pediatric oncologist, hopefully.

What got you into that?

I really like kids, and also last summer I worked at the Ronald McDonald house in New York City, which is a home away from home for kids getting treatment for different cancers and their families, so they have a place to stay close to the hospitals that they are at. So I just helped out with the kids during the day and planned fun activities for them.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you at the College? 

Well, I have chronic pain, and I had a flare up last year, a pretty bad one. And so I was on some opioids for a few days to get me through the worst of the pain, but I think they might have given me too large of a dose because I might have overestimated my weight by accident, but they hit me pretty hard. They helped with the pain, but they also made me super loopy. … Yeah, [that’s] probably an understatement, but I basically needed a babysitter for a few days and couldn’t hold my mouth. So I just kept calling people out for stupid things they said. Being really confused about where I was, I called up Sarah [Wieman ’16] in the middle of her lab once, and I was on the sidewalk, and I was like, “How do I get home?”

Was class hard to sit through?

Oh yeah, I was really bad at staying quiet during class. Someone had to whisper to me continuously to not say anything during class. And I was really good in one class, but then in my next class, I thought I was whispering the whole time to the person next to me, but they told me that apparently I was just talking normally the whole class, and I had no idea. I was trying really hard to stay quiet and take notes, but I guess I just couldn’t.

Is there anything that you really hate?

I hate oranges! I think it’s genetic, my brother hates them just as much as I do. But my sister likes them. I don’t like being near oranges, I can’t smell oranges, I will not touch oranges.

What do you do if you’re in class and someone opens an orange right next to you?

I know, and people get them from Grab and Go and sit next to me and eat their oranges. But yeah, I can control myself.  Literally, worst memory ever – well, not quite – my mom called me and my brother in from outside, we were playing in the backyard, and handed us each a paper cup full of orange juice, and made us drink it. It was torture.

And your dad kind of tortured you about not liking oranges, too, right? 

Yeah, he got an annoying orange from the YouTube video and hid it in my car. And I was just so confused. At first I thought it was a real orange, but then it had a face on it, so it was ok, it was plastic, but it was still terrifying. Could have been a disaster, big disaster, sort of like when my brother and I got an Edward Cullen cardboard cutout for my sister for her birthday while she was away at camp, so we put it in her room, right behind the door. And she came home, and she flipped out because there was some guy standing in her doorway, and it was just Edward Cullen, cardboard version.

How do you think people on campus would describe you?

Similarly to [in] high school. I don’t think that many people know who I am, which I actually stated out loud for a senior speech in high school. But probably just a giant nerd … wait no, a small nerd.

  • Ian McKellen

    Remember, Liz, that even the smallest nerd can change the course of the future.