What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?
Columbia is the only college I applied to, so I was really excited to get in and then actually be there. But there were also nerves: Would I make friends? Would I be able to handle the work? In retrospect, I would probably describe my first-year self as a little bit clueless. I really didn’t know what I liked or cared about or wanted to do with my life, but the beauty of my experience at the College is that over the course of my four years there it (thankfully) all came together.
What do you remember about your first-year living situation?
I went to boarding school for high school so I felt pretty prepared for dorm life. But living in Carman was a totally wild and different experience that I was not at all expecting. If I’m being honest, I didn’t love it, but I do feel proud of myself for surviving it.
What class do you most remember and why?
I started taking classes in the Creative Writing program during my junior year and it was honestly life-changing for me. I came to Columbia thinking I would be pre-med and go on to be a doctor, but after I got a C in one of my science classes I decided I couldn’t handle getting grades like that. I decided to take a creative writing class on a whim and it was one of the best decisions of my college career. I’d never considered writing as a viable career option, but realizing how much I enjoyed it helped me focus in a way that made doing it professionally a real possibility.
Did you have a favorite spot on campus, and what did you like about it?
I can’t choose just one! In my time at the College, Wien was probably the “most hated” dorm — it wasn’t particularly nice or new and it was so far out of the way. My junior year I got the job of CPA (community programming assistant) of Wien, which in theory sounded awful, but the one perk was I got this seriously awesome room on the top floor with its own bathroom with a shower. It was in many ways better than actual apartments I’ve rented.
I also worked at the Lerner Hall front desk for my first three years; it was the best job. I got to meet so many people I wouldn’t have ordinarily met and I learned so much about everything that goes on at Columbia — from the clubs that met in Lerner to all the people it takes to make the university run. Working there was definitely a highlight of my college experience.
Lastly, College Walk when it’s lit up during the holiday season is magical. I go back almost every winter with my daughter to take it in.
What, if anything, about your College experience would you do over?
I had a really wonderful college experience. I made great friends, had a lot of fun and learned so much. If I had to do anything differently, I would probably join more clubs. I was very studious and worked all four years — a whopping three different jobs at one point! — so I didn’t have time to participate in a meaningful way. I don’t regret my choices, but I wish there were more hours in the day for me to fit it all in.