One in Two Thousand: Larissa Silva ’20

Shaheen Currimjee

Shaheen Currimjee/The Williams Record

Each week, we randomly select a unix from a list of all current students at the College. So long as the owner of the selected unix is on campus, willing to be interviewed and not a member of the Record board, that person becomes the subject of that week’s One in Two Thousand. This week, the computer (using a very simple script in R) chose Larissa Silva ’20.

I know nothing about you, so let’s start with the basics. What are you majoring in?

Chemistry and economics. It is a weird mix — I always liked chemistry, and there’s so much to do with it. It leaves your opportunities open, and I really like that. Economics, I just picked up without any purpose [laughs]. Ultimately, my life will go with my chemistry major. I want to go to graduate school; I may try pharmaceutical science or biochemistry. It seems a little more fun to me. 

Cool, and what about outside of academics? What do you love doing off-campus? 

This year I’ve been consumed by my thesis for chemistry, but I love that. We’re using a technique called ESR [electron spin resonance] to date fossils, mostly animal teeth. In a way, my thesis is my “off-campus” even though it’s my “on-campus.” Otherwise, I love getting outdoors. I go to Mount Greylock as much as I can. I also love going to the lakes, like Onota Lake in Pittsfield. It’s a bit of a distance away but it’s worth it. There’s always dogs there… I might get a dog.

I want to adopt one. I don’t know about the particular type but I have a little dog at home, so it would be nice to have a big dog here. So I can run with it and hug it!  

That’s too cute. Any name ideas? 

It’ll depend on the name that the agency gives the dog — if it makes sense, I’ll keep it. I used to volunteer [at an adoption house] and there was a pit bull named Snowball, and I liked the name, but I felt like she was a tougher dog.

[laughs] Wait, tell me about your dog at home.

I have a little toy poodle. His name is Lucky, and he’s 11 years old. I used to have a yellow-headed parrot, Sabrina. She was my great-grandmother’s and, well, my great-grandmother was old, and so was the parrot. It was definitely older than me. I grew up with her, and she [passed away] when I was 16. You can train them to [talk], but this one learned how to scream, not talk.

Like a human scream?

A little bit, but with a parrot twist. It’s a scream with a parrot voice. But yeah, I liked feeding her peanuts because she would crack them open. When I was little, I would give her pieces of paper and she would shred it into perfect strips! I might get a parrot when I’m settled a little bit. After I have an idea of where I’m going, I’ll definitely get one. I’ll adopt one! 

Peculiar but interesting! Anyway, having been at Williams for almost four years, is there anything you would want to re-do?

A lot. This year has been my best year because I’m focusing on myself and on sleeping. It’s so important, taking care of yourself, going to the gym and being healthy. It feels good and I wish I had gotten into it earlier. I used to go to sleep at 3 a.m. and wake up at 6:30 a.m. But I’ll never do that again. At least seven hours is good, eight is always better, and nine if you can! 

Yeah, I love sleep too. You’re totally right about keeping healthy, it’s super important to feel good about yourself.

Yeah, working out helps me — I’ve gotten more serious about fitness. I used to do it to be healthy but now I have goals I’ve set for myself. I couldn’t do pullups before and now I can do five each way. Now that midterms are almost over, I think I’ll set that goal to seven. It’s small increments, but it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. 

I am so bad about getting over to the gym. Kudos! 

I think the consistency can feel really good. But, we’ve all been there – one week on, four weeks off, one week on, three weeks off. 

[laughs] Hey, spring pre-registration is coming up soon! Any courses you’re interested in taking or recommend taking? 

That’s a good question because my goal is grad school, so I want to take courses that will be beneficial. Animal Behavior seems pretty interesting, but it’s at 8:30 a.m. so I’m on the iffy side because like I said, I love sleep. Biophysical Chemistry is one of the harder classes, but it honestly sounds cool. In the past, I’ve taken random art and English classes related to film. It’s my secret passion. Art classes can be difficult because they do require a lot of time but I would say to anyone who has the time and patience to take an art class. Hollywood Film was also a super fun class — everyone should try it. 

I’ll consider it! I’ve learned quite a bit about you, which is awesome. Is there anything you want to add? 

I’m not the best at giving advice, so I don’t want to do that. I want to give more animal facts… I strongly believe that we should be allowed to have pets on campus more leniently. It’s always nice to come home to someone who is happy to see you. I guess that’s something I would have redone [if given the opportunity]. I would’ve brought my dog with me from the beginning. 

I totally agree with you!

Oh yeah, and this weekend I had a take-home exam and a lab report due, but I decided I wanted to do something a little crazy. So I got my belly button pierced. I don’t remember much about it happening so I can’t tell you if it hurts.

Why not? Were you under anesthesia?

Nope. They just put me in a chair and poked me. But I was kind of panicking, so I blacked out. It bothers me that I barely remember, but it was a fun experience.

Can you put other piercings in?

I have to wait till it heals completely. Your torso generally moves more than other parts of your body, so that piercing takes longer to heal than an ear piercing. But [later] I’ll try different things. Maybe I’ll put a little dinosaur in there.