Welcome to Alumnihood, Class of 2023

One of Columbia College’s most memorable traditions is Class Day, a special celebration filled with excitement, memories and a strong sense of Lion pride. We salute the professors who challenged and inspired us, the friends who became like family and the moments that shaped us.

Class Day is not just about the past, however; it’s also about the future — a time to look forward to new adventures and opportunities as you step into the world as alumni. To our newest graduates, just as your time at Columbia has been transformative, being part of the alumni community will enrich your life. You automatically become members of the Columbia College Alumni Association, as well as Columbia College Young Alumni, which comprises the 10 most recent classes of graduates. CCYA offers different ways to connect with peers as well as opportunities to stay involved with friends, classmates and faculty. It provides a rich network of advisors, whether you are navigating a new career, graduate program or community. And it offers special programming that focuses on the interests of young graduates.

As you take your next steps as proud graduates, we want to introduce you to some of CCYA’s talented and successful leaders. Here, they offer advice and share what’s been the best part about being in CCYA.


Brandon Shi ’22

If you’re able to, I’d recommend taking some time after graduation to slow down and unplug before continuing on to wherever you’re going next — whether you’re starting a job, going to grad school or pursuing some other passion. After four years of undergrad and reaching such a significant milestone, you deserve some time off to hit the pause button, recharge and relax!

It has been really rewarding to stay in touch with College friends and mentors through CCYA, especially those who work in different companies and industries, whom I feel I can turn to for advice and a sense of perspective. It’s been a good experience going to alumni events and reconnecting with familiar faces.

Rita Zhang ’17

Here are some things I learned that help keep me in check when I’m nervous or unsure: People who inspire and better you are usually the kindest ones you’ll meet. Keep them in your circle. Savor the moments of private joy, seek feedback and don’t believe every criticism you receive. Jot down quotations that move you as you are reading; they’ll come in handy. Tell someone in person how much you appreciate them. Call your mother.

I’m on the Engagement Committee of the CCYA board, so I get to create fun social events for young alums. Recently, we organized a rooftop happy hour, a private museum tour at Neue Galerie and a tech social at The Columbia Startup Lab. It’s a special joy to see our gatherings spark conversations between participants. The environment we help curate is a direct reflection of the board’s collaborative dynamic. We always make sure to take time to celebrate each other’s efforts and turn an alchemy of creative ideas and diverse interests into events/initiatives.

Maria Sun

Marvin Clark ’19

As a brand-new alum, you should get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The early part of your career is full of opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. This process will repeat itself endlessly as long as you continue to take on new challenges. There will be times when the space between where you are and where you want to be will feel like a chasm; you should be kind to yourself as you make your way, and remain confident that you will make it and that you already are exactly who you need to be to continue. This is your path and no one else’s. You contain multitudes waiting to be discovered, and the unearthing process can get rocky.

The most fun thing about being part of CCYA is reconnecting with my peers and the Columbia community, and making new friends through the programming we put on. I probably had more fun at Homecoming after I graduated than when I was a student. That’s nostalgia for you, I guess! But more than that, I have enjoyed many run-ins with classmates at CCYA events and taking the opportunity to catch up with them. The pandemic definitely put things in perspective and has made me appreciate all of the communities I am part of so much more.