Hometown: Hartsdale, N.Y.
Favorite Campus Spot: Van Am Quad
Awards: National Residence Hall Honorary – King’s Crown Chapter Member, Sands Family Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
Clubs: Columbia/Barnard Hillel, JQ, Koach, Columbia University Ballroom Dance Team, CoLab Performing Arts Collective, Columbia University Undergraduate Recruitment Committee
A fascination with the human body inspired many of Sarah Kellner CC’16’s endeavors as an undergraduate, from her choice of major — dance — to her decision to become a certified doula and pursue a career in women’s healthcare.
A dancer since she was 3, Keller took up modern dance seriously at 13. She chose the College in part because she was drawn to Columbia’s interdisciplinary dance program, which allowed her to take both technique and liberal arts courses. Kellner says, “How people move tells you a lot about them. From the way people move their shoulders, for example, you can get insight into what they are thinking or feeling.”
Kellner once aspired to become a professional dancer, but at the College she completed a pre-med curriculum and has plans to attend medical school. Though she has research experience, she would rather “work directly with people” and help make healthcare “more compassionate and patient-focused.” That’s precisely what she’s done for the past year as a doula — a woman trained to assist other women, physically and emotionally, before, during and after childbirth.
Kellner, who “grew up in a family that was really passionate about reproductive justice” and witnessed the home birth of one of her sisters at 7, volunteers as a birth and abortion doula. She also has worked with private clients. “I think women should be supported in any decision they make regarding their pregnancies,” says Kellner.
An ethos of understanding and acceptance also has guided Kellner in her co-curricular activities, including her approach as a resident adviser and a community adviser. She likens those responsibilities to those of a doula, insofar as both roles entail “supporting people and being a non-judgmental person who provides resources.”
Also active in the campus’ Jewish community, Kellner is proud of her work with JQ, a Jewish LGBTQ and ally group, of which she is a founding board member. JQ began during the Fall 2014 semester with small dinners in Kellner’s room in Hartley Hall. During the past year, she says, around 40 Columbia students have attended each the group’s two to three monthly events, which have expanded to include larger group meals and speaker panels. “I thought it was important for there to be a space in which Jewish LGBTQ students could feel comfortable,” she says.