Take Five with Kareem Carryl ’15

Kareem Carryl ’15 is a first-year student at Harvard Law. Previously, he worked at J.P. Morgan alongside a team responsible for advising individuals, families and foundations on a range of wealth management matters. Carryl joined J.P. Morgan in 2011 as a member of the Thomas G. Labrecque Smart Start Scholarship Program. At the College, he was a member of the Columbia College Student Council, which included his role as senior class president, and the Executive Committee of Columbia College Student Ambassadors. He received the College’s Leonard A. Pullman Memorial Prize in 2015 and King’s Crown Leadership Excellence Awards for Principled Action and Community Building.

What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?

Despite being a Brooklyn native, Columbia and its surrounding community still felt foreign to me. I didn’t do the pre-orientation programs (COOP or CUE), so naturally, I feared that many people already had their friend groups when I moved in. This fear was reduced just a little bit as I was hauling a blue bin from one end of campus to the other on a sweltering August day with my parents. I felt somewhat connected to the other families similarly trying to navigate the chaos of move-in.

Looking back, I remember being both excited and nervous. I could not fathom how life would be in a school with such a storied reputation and history, but I was eager to take advantage of every opportunity it would give to me.

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

I lived on the 12th floor of Carman. I wanted to live there because it was known as the more social of the first-year dorms, and I can say that it lived up to the hype. There was no shortage of characters roaming the halls, making my time there feel more akin to a TV show. I couldn’t have had a better introduction to dorm life. Many of my closest friends to this day lived in the building with me that year!

What Core class or experience do you most remember and why?

The Core played a big role in shaping my academic experience. My most memorable class happened to be my first one — Literature Humanities with Professor Edward Mendelson. His class demonstrated the power of our institution to bring together some of the best minds around the world to discuss texts and questions that have shaped the world we live in. He required engaged participation from all of us, which helped to bring texts like the Iliad, The Odyssey, Don Quixote and what ended up being my favorite, Confessions, to life in a way that felt relevant. His class gave me the confidence I needed to feel as though I belonged at the College and that my contributions were valued. Additionally, he brought apples from the farmers market on Broadway for all of his students, which was much appreciated!

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

Surprisingly, my favorite spot on campus was Kent Hall (though College Walk when the trees are lit is a close second). Trying to avoid the stress of the libraries during finals season, my friends and I would usually take over one of the classrooms in the building so we could study in a more relaxed environment. I wouldn’t say we were the most efficient with our study time there, as we would often get lost in random conversations, watch YouTube videos, play music way too loudly and most importantly, send someone out to make the HamDel run (someone had to stay back to open the doors, lest we all get locked out). Nonetheless, the many late nights in the building helped us bond and get through the stressful times.

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

I don’t have many regrets. During my four years there, the College, the campus and the wider University became a place I was able to call home. The learning that took place in the classroom was equally matched by the learning that happened out of it. I was able to serve in student government, which allowed me the opportunity to speak in front of and to my fellow graduating seniors at our Class Day ceremony. I met some amazing professors, inspiring alumni and some of my best friends. Most importantly, I learned about myself. I couldn’t have wished for a better time.