Student Profiles


Ellie Oldach '15

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Ellie OldachAfter spending a term at College of the Atlantic as a visiting student during her sophomore year, Ellie decided to make the transition from the west to the east coast. Transferring from another school, she says, gave her critical perspective as well as a deeper appreciation for COA.

Having the comparison has been really valuable. I am happy with how everything has ended up. I wasn’t sure about College of the Atlantic when I was thinking about colleges in high school. People look at a school like UC Davis and they “get it,” but it’s harder to understand a small school offering a degree in human ecology. But the other students and the professors at COA are so inspiring. I appreciate how engaged they are and how much they care about things. At my other school, there was no clear understanding of why a class was important, but I wanted classes that are important to my everyday life—classes that can alter my worldviews.

The Unexpected
Ellie was surprised to discover how much her academic and personal life are interwoven at COA. Ideas and questions she thinks about non-academically are influenced by her course material.

Students can have purposeful and meaningful discussions with faculty and other students. We can talk about what drives us, what keeps us going, and how to engage with opportunities to do those things.

The core idea I took away from Contemporary Women’s Novels is an awareness of “in between places:” seeing the spaces between genders, social roles, compartments in my own life, seeing when things aren’t black and white.

The Significance of Self-Direction
For me, self-direction means doing things you actually care about, not what an outside power is telling you to do. My approach to things like work and class presentations has changed, but I’ve learned that we can also be self-directed in our artistic expression and life experiences, not just in the work we do.

Things Gained
COA has brought out qualities of self-reflection and self-questioning in me—not in a doubtful way, but in an exploratory way. I have more courage in my own voice, especially my creative voice.

Looking Forward
Human ecology will help me in my awareness of different perspectives people have when they are telling their stories. Biology, politics—any field—I can weave the perspectives together to come to a broader understanding.

Example of Ellie's work

"Parallax" - a poem