Meet Kaitlin Hickey CC’18, an American history and French and francophone studies double major, from Trumbull, CT.
While at Columbia College, Hickey was involved with the Columbia Women’s Business Society, an undergraduate women’s organization that aims to create a business leadership network; a tour guide with the Columbia Undergraduate Admissions’ Undergraduate Recruitment Committee a member of the Class of 2018 Senior Fund; and a peer advisor in the Office of Global Programs and Fellowships.
What are your favorite memories from your time at Columbia College?
My favorite experience was definitely the time I spent abroad at Columbia’s Global Centers in Paris and London.
I spent the summer after my first year in Paris, where I participated in the inaugural program of Art and Music Humanities at Reid Hall. I split my junior year between London in the fall, on the Columbia in London program, and Paris in the spring, at Reid Hall. Over the course of the year, I took courses on a wide range of topics, ranging from “Anglo-American Relations from 1939 to 1973” to “Political Life in France.” I was able to pair my coursework with travel throughout Europe and North Africa.
A good friend of mine said to me, “Studying abroad both expands and condenses your world,” and that really resonated with me. My time abroad “expanded my world” in that I was having these incredible experiences. For example, I wasn’t just studying the 2017 French presidential election in a class, I was living through it; my professor wrote for one of the leading French journals and took our class to various political rallies. At the time, I was living with a very engaged host family who always discussed current events over dinner. But at the same time it “condensed,” or rather, allowed me to focus in on what I was truly passionate about, and for me, it helped me decide what sort of opportunities I really wanted to pursue post-graduation.
While in Paris, I took a seminar called “Diversity, Power, and Emancipation: Trans-Atlantic Perspectives” with a law professor at Sciences Po who specialized in discrimination. My research in this course centered on French education theory and assessing the ways in which existing programs at Oxford, Columbia and Sciences Po — which aim to provide equality of opportunity in education and a diversification of elites and aid students from lower socio-economic backgrounds access higher education — could be improved. This research marked a turning point for me, because I realized that this was not just a topic I could study, but rather a process that I wanted to become actively involved with, and it was this experience which ultimately led me to apply for a Fulbright to France.
What surprised you most about your Columbia College experience?
I suppose my entire trajectory has surprised me in a way. Most of my decisions were the result of happy accidents or haphazardly signing up for classes that I heard were worth-taking from one friend or another.
One example of this was how I became pre-law as a sophomore and took President Bollinger’s class, “Freedom of Speech and the Press,” which is designed to mirror what the first-year of law school would look like (using the Socratic method, being cold-called in class, studying cases, etc). I really enjoyed it and my reasoning was. “Okay, well if this is what law school is like, I would thoroughly enjoy three years of classes structured like this,” and that’s honestly how I started thinking about law school.
What will you miss the most about Columbia College?
I will miss the connectivity of campus the most — constantly bumping into friends, classmates on College Walk and having quick little updates on all the amazing things everyone is up to.
What are your post-graduate plans?
I will be in France next year with a Fulbright Award, teaching English and helping high school students in underserved communities access higher education. After that, perhaps law school or foreign service.