Take Five with Nza-Ari Khepra ’18

Nza-Ari by Heather Hazzan

Heather Hazzan

Nza-Ari Khepra ’18 is a business analyst with McKinsey & Co.. and the co-founder of Project Orange Tree, a gun violence prevention organization that educates young people about root causes and potential solutions. Khepra co-created and organized the project’s Wear Orange campaign to commemorate lives lost to gun violence in Chicago. She majored in economics and concentrated in African-American studies.

What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?

I took my first steps in New York during a childhood vacation, and Columbia was my chance to take my first steps as a young adult. Upon reflection, I was extremely excited, even impatient, to start the next phase of my life.

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

Carman 715-A was truly my home away from home. My assigned roommate, Maranatha Genet SEAS’18, and our chosen roommate, Candace Johnson SEAS’18, and I found solace in those four walls. It’s overwhelming to think about how a barren double and two strangers became the closest thing that I had to a family home in NYC.

What class do you most remember and why?

“Black Memoirs,” taught by Josef Sorett! Professor Sorett commanded the class in a way that consistently engaged me. I loved this class because there was never a moment when I was not excited to read, discuss or write about the content.

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

The elevated platforms that flank Low Steps. I would sit with my legs dangling over the edge or my back nestled into the uncomfortable lamp. From that perspective, I was able to see the campus on its brightest and loudest days but also its darkest and almost silent nights.

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

What really made my experience special was the unparalleled group of people I was able to study beside, learn from and form lasting relationships with. Every single conversation shaped me as a person, and I would not hesitate to relive those moments.