Elliette Barrows: Fitting In and Standing Out

By Megan Doherty – 1851 Contributor

Elliette Barrows in WLAS’ Radio Station. Photo by Megan Doherty

When Elliette Robin Barrows, Ellie for short, went on a trip with Lasell’s radio and television production clubs, she learned that sometimes you just have to take every left turn, and see where you end up.

When things halted the club’s original plan to go to Roxberry, LCTV and WLAS’ faculty advisor, Dr. Brian Wardyga, didn’t let that stop their adventure. “He said, ‘ok, we are just going to take every left turn, and see where we end up,’” said Ellie.

Only a freshman at the time, she didn’t know that crazy trip that took them to a lake, graveyard and Chinese buffet, would have such an impact on her. “I felt a shift in my life at that point… It was really the push I needed… I look back on that day, and it’s just like, the people I was with, are people that I didn’t know at the time would be people that I just love so much… It’s an important day for me in my memories, and I think that would be my favorite memory since coming to Lasell,” Ellie said.  

Ellie, now 21 years old, is a senior at Lasell University who will be graduating this winter. Ellie has earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a focus in radio and video production in only three and a half years. During her time at Lasell, Ellie has been very involved on campus. She now finds herself a straight-A student, resident advisor, WLAS’ Program Director, and the host of LCTV’s show, Between Two Torches

Ellie, right, DJ-ing at Lasell’s friends and family weekend with best friend Simone Landry, left. Photo courtesy of WLAS Secretary Meghan Conroy

Even as a child, Ellie would take her family’s video camera and become the star of her own show. She would make up news stories and commercials for items she found around her house. In high school, that passion for filmmaking and performing was still alive as she was a part of her school’s theatre department and television production club. With her love for content creating, it is surprising to learn that she didn’t always major in radio and video production.

Ellie first came to Lasell majoring in fashion merchandising, and spent her freshman year feeling very out of place. “I hated it; not because there was anything wrong with the program. It just wasn’t the right fit for me,” said Ellie.

With apprehension, she decided to change her path her sophomore year, and major in communications with a focus in radio and video production. “I was nervous to major in com just because I know it’s a really competitive field, especially with what I want to do,” said Ellie, who dreams of either directing movies or being a television news anchor.

Ellie is the quintessential small-town girl whose big dreams pulled her away from tiny Litchfield Connecticut, her hometown. Ellie was drawn to Lasell due to the similar tight-knit community feel that Litchfield offered her. “My graduating class was 63 kids in high school… I was always a big fish in a small pond, and I’m still a big fish in a small pond, but the pond is a little bigger now,” said Ellie.

From the start, she knew she wouldn’t thrive in a big school. Ellie said, “I knew my limits, and I knew that if I was going to a really big school… it would be too much for me.” It turns out that the small school was the perfect fit for the small girl, with big passion and lots of moxie, who stands at only 5’1”. 

Ellie posing in the Arnow Quad. Photo Courtesy of Ellie Barrows

Despite her small stature, her heart is big. Ellie describes herself as loving and compassionate, and those in her life agree. When asked about Ellie, her friends, teachers, and family all pretty much jumped to the same word first: sweet. Niamh McEwan, 21, a junior at Lasell, and WLAS’ new Production Manager, who has known Ellie since her freshman year said, “She’s very sweet and down to Earth and one of my favorite human beings.”

Another friend, Mike Maruk, 20, who will be taking over Ellie’s role of Program Director for WLAS said, “Ellie is a kind, light-hearted person with a lot of personality and a strong will. She can be sweet, but also very into what she does, so passionate, I would say… Ellie has had a pretty huge impact on me, especially as my Program Director for the radio and as a friend at Lasell.” 

Ellie has truly brought a sense of community into WLAS. Dr. Wardyga attributes this to her feminine nature. “I don’t want to sound sexist saying this, but I think it’s a female thing. When I think back to the last time that we had this sense of community, and ideas of having a party or dinner together, was when I had a female in that position… Prior to that we had a lot of males in that role, and that whole part of it kind of got dropped,” said Dr. Wardyga.

In-spite of the positive influences she has brought due to her femininity, Ellie still had troubles during her time at Lasell, leaving her needing to prove herself and her capabilities. “I’ve definitely felt pushed out of certain positions and talked over, I’ve been talked over a lot, and my voice hasn’t been taken as seriously because of being a woman,” said Ellie. However, she hasn’t let that stop her success, and continues to power through life and every challenge thrown at her.

Despite all of her accolades and experience, Ellie is still worried about leaving Lasell. “I am scared of just not succeeding. I feel like a lot of people think I’m gonna do really great things, and I really do want to do really great things, but I’m scared that if I don’t I’ll be disappointing people,” Ellie said.

As she moves on from this stage in her life, albeit anxious about what is to come, she discusses what she wants her legacy to be. She said, “I want people to just remember me as someone that made people feel safe, made people feel like they were heard. I’m the type of person where I feel like I never was heard, and I want to make sure that people know they’re safe with me… I want to have an impact on people, on their lives. I don’t want to go around doing things that don’t matter. I want to help the world, I want to make it better.”

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