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A knee-high perspective

Mills College Weekly

For Gabriella Toriseva, a typical day at Mills does not involve
attending classes, checking her e-mail at the library, or
participating in study groups like most Mills students. Gabby would
much rather spend her time on campus chasing squirrels behind Mills
Hall, splashing her hands in the fountain in front of Olin Library,
or picking up giant sticks outside of the Tea Shop.

Although Gabby spends about as much time on campus as many
students, she is not yet old enough to be a Mills woman. But at two
years old, Gabby knows how it feels to be a part of the Mills

When Gabby’s mother, creative writing graduate student Jonelle
Toriseva began her studies at Mills last semester, she wanted to
keep Gabby as close to her as possible. She said that English
Department head Cynthia Scheinberg gave her the names of some good
babysitters and eventually, she decided to hire Mills students to
watch Gabby while attending classes.

“She loves being here. It’s such a healthy area. There’s green
grass, eucalyptus trees. I didn’t plan it this way but it worked
out,” Toriseva said.

Gabby often draws the attention of many Mills women who stop to
adore the little girl with the big brown eyes, round, rosy cheeks
and brown curlicued hair.

Sophomore Megan Wheelehan who babysits Gabby once a week said
that many people are drawn to Gabby. “I meet a lot of new people
that way,” she said.

Gabby’s other babysitter, junior Vala Burnett, has seen a
similar reaction from people in the Mills community after she
started babysitting Gabby last semester. “A lot of people love her
and know her. I think she’s the most social two-year-old I’ve ever
met. It may be a result of growing up on this campus,” said

In fact, when Burnett first met Gabby on campus last semester,
she saw Gabby and asked her mother if she could play with her
child. “We played for one and a half hours,” she said

According to the people who know her well, Gabby enjoys many
special talents including singing, painting, and yoga.

Gabby’s mother said that she loves to listen to such songs as
Mary Had a Little Lamb, Polly Put the Kettle On, and Yankee Doodle
Dandy. “We listen to Yankee Doodle Dandy about 100 times a day,”
said Toriseva. As if on cue, Gabby began to sing “I’m a Yankee
Doodle Dandy….” And her mother joined in to sing along with

Burnett said that she spends a lot of time doing art projects
with Gabby. “We paint, we color, we glue things. She likes to lead
the way. I was pretty impressed,” said Burnett.

Wheelehan works with Gabby on her athleticism. “We do a lot of
stretching and running,” she said. Currently Wheelehan is working
with Gabby on the tree yoga pose.

Those who have stopped to meet Gabby on the Mills campus agree
that she is one very sweet little girl. “She’s a credit to her
parents,” said Burnett.

“She’s been blessed with a really good temperament.”

When asked if she could see Gabby as a future Mills student,
Gabby’s mother replied, “I want her to be happy and healthy and to
do all that she wants to do.”