Take Five with Irena Ossola ’10

Irena Ossola '10 is a professional cyclist, currently on the Canada-based team SAS-MACOGEP, with a goal of competing in Tokyo 2020.

Irena Ossola

What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?

I was a pretty innocent kid, excited for adventure and the challenges of college life as a student-athlete in the big city. I wanted be the best at everything — running, school, exploring the city, social life. I quickly learned it was a harder reality.

What do you remember about your first-year living situation?

I lived in Carman, 12th floor. I remember making friends quickly and loving the people on my floor. It felt like one giant sleepover: Hanging out, doing homework together, eating — and no bedtime or chores.

What class do you still remember and why?

I remember Lit Hum and my sustainable development classes the most — Lit Hum because it was a constant discussion about questions that would never be completely answered. It challenged us to think and question all that we learn, know and encounter. And sustainable development because I discovered that my passion for science could be applied in a field I really enjoyed learning about to then help the world.

Did you have a favorite spot on campus, and what did you like about it?

I think — like almost everyone that goes to Columbia — The Steps. The best people watching and view you can ask for.

What, if anything, would you do over about your College experience?

This is a tough question because I really cherish all that I experienced at Columbia: the good, the bad, the tough and the fun. But I think I would have gone into the city more and taken advantage of events. It’s easy to say in hindsight, as I was focused on athletics and school, but I would have tried to take more time to explore outside the Columbia gates.