Senior Wisdom: Helam Gebremariam

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Today, the 6th installment in our Senior Wisdom series…bringing you a bunch of ’07ers you should have met but won’t have time to. 

uhoClaims to fame: 

Wearing an LLBean backpack with my initials (HAG) monogrammed on the back for most of 3rd and 4th grade, living as an RA in McBain as a SENIOR (I love you McBain 7), facilitating conversations whether or not I’m asked to (shout out to my lovely ROOTEd facilitators). Also, I’m that kid in all the Columbia “look I swear we’re diverse” admissions publications. 

Preferred swim test stroke?  

Whatever keeps you afloat. Some combination of flailing arms and kicking. 

What are three things you learned at Columbia?  

1.  Institutional change rarely (ever?) happens without student action. Columbia’s divestment from South Africa, the establishment of courses in Ethnic Studies, the foundation of the Malcolm X Lounge, and the creation of the Office of Multicultural Affairs (just to name a few) all came as a consequence and as a result of student protest.  

2. TA’s do all the work but don’t even get health insurance.  

3. There is Monet and then there’s Manet. Ohh Art Hum…..

Justify your existence in 30 words or less. 

Living for and working with the people and communities that I love. 

What was your favorite controversy in your time at Columbia?  

I thought the massive uprise following the announcement of our Class Day speaker was a bit out of line. If only people got that heated about the other controversies in our time here. Come on guys, the FED! Hate Crimes! And we get all antsy over THIS?? 

Which professor do you think would be the best kisser?  

Eek. I feel like KJ (Kenneth Jackson) was a Matt Dean back in his day.

What percentage of seniors do you think are virgins?

[Insert stereotypical SEAS joke here] I don’t know. 10%?

Would you rather permanently give up oral sex or cheese?   

Haha. I plead the 5th. I swear my father has a GoogleAlert on my name.

Days on campus memory?

Days on campus and NSOP have fused into one collective memory. I remember CUnity – was that Days on Campus? I just remember it being really warm and everyone being outside. That seems to happen every year, the prefrosh come, see the students on the grass playing Frisbee, decide to come, and then find out that the grass is only available those 2 days out of the entire year.  


Not taking more electives, oh…and majoring in Econ.

If you’re burning for more class of 2007 profiles, check it: Frances Howorth, Josh Bolotsky, Jenni Oki, Seth Flaxman, Maria Baibakova, Karen Fu (scroll), David Chait (scroll), Dan Okin, Anthony Walker, Nick Klagge, Claire Lackner, Paul Sonne, Karina Garcia, and Sakib Khan.

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  1. Freshman  

    Helam was my diversity training person during NSOP. As a result, it wasn't tedious, and I felt good about coming here. what a positive person! great choice bwog.

  2. AWESOME  

    She is definitly one of the most awesome people around!

  3. a fan  

    Helam Gebremariam rocks my world!


  4. yay Helam  

    She's really cool. Also I'm told she's going to Columbia Law in the fall, so she's also going to be a baller.

  5. EOtF  


  6. wien  

    can someone tell whoever planned this stupid street fair during finals that they could not have a worse weekend? thnx....

  7. i think  

    Helam has to be one of the nicest people at Columbia ever. I mean, I could even extend this general comment to the entire wooooorld she's just that nice. And Subash is alright too.

    But what's even more baller is that she's going to NYU Law and she turned down Columbia cause they're a buncha assholes.

  8. Helam  

    really is one of the nicest people I've ever met. Her smile is contagious and she's always so personable. She's got a ton of awards and deserves every last one!!!

  9. Her name  

    kinda means dream in Arabic! How appropriate!

  10. fellow weiner  

    Ya, street fair for small children was a dumb idea during's been a hard week for the people who live on the other side of 116th. First the marching band Thursday night, now this.

    • I think  

      I think CUMB is really inconsiderate for non-Columbia people. They really should stick to just doing in strictly on campus and not in places that disrupt neighbors...or at least don't do it at 1 in the morning

      • whatever  

        grow some thicker skin. ten to twenty minutes of music isn't going to ruin your night. if it does, you probably are a jerk.

        • Hmmm....  

          technically it's only on campus, but the for people who live across from Wien, it might as well be on the street...the fifty or so feet between the street and the front of Wien isn't sound proof. Plus, it isn't just ten to twenty minutes of music. If that wakes you up at 1 in the morning and you can't get back to sleep, then it does ruin your night. I think that it is really inconsiderate of the non-Columbia people that may live in the area.

      • and,  

        they only perform on campus

  11. that was  

    supposed to be I heart Helam. rats.

  12. again...  

    since none of you have thought to say it yet
    I'd do her.
    (I know her and the picture doesn't begin to do justice)

  13. mcbain 7er

    how do i love thee, helam? let me count the ways...
    sharing a wall with you for the past year has been nothing short of spectacular.

  14. bah  

    there were enough protests over the fed etc., they're just not in recent memory. back then there wasn't even bwog and that shit got much more coverage in spec.

  15. p.s.  

    bwog, it was cool last year when you asked people what they'd be doing after graduation. what happened to that question? now we're relying on commenters for that info...

  16. not me  

    well, i'm sure that once we get rid of the CUMB, all of columbia's issues with it's neighbors will disappear overnight. manthattanville just wants some peace and quiet.

  17. petting zoo!  

    was amazing, sorry weiners!

  18. what?  

    no one's really been critical of her yet. that's odd since like every other profile had a debate going in no time about the person's qualifications to be profiled, whether they were a douche or not, whether they should pluck/dye their eyebrows, etc.
    why is helam seeing pretty much consensus kindness? i mean were even talking about a petting zoo in her comments section...does it get warmer and fuzzier than that?
    is it because shes serving as some sort of token colored person (sorry the asians dont realy count...not that tao tan isnt whiter than most caucasians anyway)

    • mike  

      well, #15 got deleted, so they probably said something nasty. but yeah, i've met her and she's really nice, but i'm surprised she's not getting the flak May Lin got for saying pretty much the same things.

      My question: who the hell is Matt Dean? Does she mean James Dean?

      • Welllll  

        I'm in Butler so naturally I've been regularly reading the comments, and I don't remember it being a negative comment about her. I think it was about the Fed or something. Unless I'm wrong.

    • meyouher  

      if you know them both, the answer is pretty simple: it's very difficult not to like helam. very hard to say the same for may. that should explain your dilemma.

  19. wirc  

    Hypothesis: it's because for all her activism, she's not self-righteous and you can have a normal conversation with her. Also, her answers didn't come off as obnoxious wanking.

    Which pretty much makes her a person you can't really dislike, right?

    Or she's pulling a Weinberg and posting all of the comments herself.

    • alexv  

      "pulling a Weinberg"? that is a flat out lie. Though I have no ties whatsoever to him, I happen to know for a fact that Alex Weinberg does not post comments posing as someone else and that he's a brilliant, upstanding young man. Shame on you for suggesting otherwise.

  20. helam is great  

    Helam is GREAT! she's going to nyu law in the fall, she's amazing and she's an inspiration to everyone who meets her!

  21. Glenn Thompson  

    Helam is one of the best people on this planet. She is going to do great things for this world. Just wait and see. I will miss her and I wish her all of the best.

  22. first

    off the fed cartoon was actually very provacative (why indeed is black history so often reductionist in its representation?), but that got shouted down, and a productive discussion was never had in the mainstream (maybe it was held in the specially created safe spaces for students of color. I'll never know.) I despised that protest. You were not being silenced. You chose to hold a silent protest. And plenty of people got behind that protest- it was a pretty powerful display, even if I completely disagreed with it.

    Also, Matt Dean? I think you mean James Dean. Please get your white cultural references correct. It's incredibly offensive and oppressive when you project your paradigm of privilege on us like that. Thank you.

    And yes Helam is going to NYU Law next year, not Columbia. in fact, the majority of Columbia undergrads admitted to both schools opt for the change in scenery for law school. Shows that there's absolutely no institutional loyalty, when NYU is effectively tied with CLS in the rankings, (or either one spot above, or below depending on the year and USNews' whim).

  23. a small thing...

    helam cites the "i swear we're diverse" photos; i assume she means to imply that we are not diverse, but the photos pretend.
    columbia college is 11% black
    USA is 12% black
    columbia college is 42% white/non-hispanic, 13% hispanic
    USA is 72% white
    if diverse with respect to blacks means mirroring the nation, then we have essentially arrived, discriminating against whites in the process.

    i agree that affirmative-action photo casting is cheesy. i just want our common wisdom to incorporate the fact that Columbia represents blacks equally compared to the nation--it's no longer "token" when your group's % mirrors US demographics.

  24. aaand

    before somebody pwns me for accusing columbia of racism vs. poooor old white people, i know this is questionable and depends on the definition of discrimination, so here you go:
    "treatment based on category rather than merit"
    and i say the lack of white preference [which blacks receive] is equal to the presense of discrimination. it's not egregious for white people, but it exists

  25. did you  

    stop to consider there may be a reason why the percentage of white students here is less than the national average?
    mainly its because asians are a dominant force to be reckoned with and you should bow down to us.
    but in all seriousness there are legitimate reasons and neither "side" ought to cry "racism! discrimination!"

  26. word to 40

    white whining on this issue is absurd...also, CC should milk its black/indian/whatever students for all the publicity they're worth
    it is funny, though, that people still assume Columbia somehow needs to fake its "diversity" with "token" individuals. PSA: the liberal demographic demands have been met

  27. admissions  

    really only considers race when looking at under represented minorities if at all which typically counts blacks, native americans, and hispanics.
    however if we have basically matched the national proportions in terms of black students then i imagine admissions is not factoring race as much even for those applicants.
    race isnt really considered at all (in favor of) for whites and asians

  28. Looks like  

    Looking at the total undergraduate program: Blacks and whites are both underrepresented. 7% black and 45% white in the undergraduate population. In fact they are both underrepresented by the same amount (61%-62% of the American population).

  29. stats

    came from college board dude
    that's for the most recent class i suppose

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