Senior Wisdom: Emily Nagel

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Name, Hometown, School, Major: Emily Nagel, Ridley Park, PA (Just outside of Philadelphia), CC, Drama and Theatre Arts, English

Claim to Fame: Leading prefrosh all over campus, RA/CA’ing in Carman and Furnald, and probably more visibly, writing XMAS!5 with Jeff Stern and directing XMAS! 6, 3-year VShow Alum (directed 117), refusing to make a normal face in any picture, much to the chagrin of my close, personal friends, and for brightly colored cardigans and the phrase “Live your dreams.”

Where are you going? Hazlehurst, Mississippi to teach elementary school with Teach for America.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. Sleep does not mean you’re weak, it doesn’t mean you’re not dedicated, and it doesn’t mean you’re worse than anyone else. Sleep means you’re human. Which, you know, you are. You’re not a robot. Same goes with eating. It’s okay to put your physical health as a priority. I learned that the hard way in my junior year when I pushed myself too hard and made myself pretty sick. Be well.
  2. You choose your attitude. It’s okay to be the radical who likes things, who’s not complaining, who has a positive attitude. Just because everyone else is cranky or stressed, doesn’t mean you have to be. Just because everyone else hates Herodotus, doesn’t mean you have to. If you enter every class expecting that you will learn, you will. If you enter into every group meeting and performance expecting your peers to do amazing things, you’ll see your peers do amazing things. Have the courage to be positive. College is too short not to be.
  3. Your peers are amazing people. You are an amazing person. You would not be here if you weren’t. You can’t define yourself in comparison to others, but only in comparison to yourself. Step back and really appreciate all that you and your friends are accomplishing, and define success on your own terms, not anyone else’s.

“Back in my day…” Smoothies at JJ’s were full size and you ran out of dining dollars by the second week of the semester.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I am a New Yorker, a Columbian, and a Phillies fan, and I believe in love, grilled cheese, doing good, working hard, dogs, stickers, and you.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? There was never a war. Asking people to be smart, safe, and responsible is not a war, and neither is trying to abide by federal laws is not a war. The university is not a lawless, Dionysian green world, and we all know it. I don’t think anyone comes here seriously expecting to be allowed to do whatever we want. If you stand back and look at the efforts the administration makes not to tell us what to do but how to do it responsibly, you see how much we get away with. I think you would be astonished by the effort it takes to get into any serious trouble with this administration.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Much like Liz Lemon, I would never abandon cheese, and how dare you try to make me?

Advice for the class of 2016:

  • Above all, celebrate the tremendous things that you and your peers will accomplish. Support each other, reward risk taking, and appreciate the hard work all of you put into things that often few will notice.
  • Take care of yourself. Ask for help when you need it. You didn’t come here to be coddled, but that doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to assistance. If you want a different advisor, get one. Get to know your professors. Ask upper classmen for advice.
  • Varsity Show was one of the most rewarding experiences in my time here at Columbia. I was blessed to share it with a really wonderful group of people. That is not always the experience. Which is all to say, try the things you want to try, and do not be deterred from others’ experiences. Do what you like and what you believe in and when you neither like nor believe in it, then stop doing it. But get out of Butler.
  • ESPECIALLY in seminars and in Bwog comments, but in general, try to understand, not to be understood.
  • You are allowed to make mistakes. In fact, please do. Try new things. Take risks. Learn to fail. Learn to dust yourself off and try again. Hold fast to your principles, but realize that a lot of times things aren’t black and white. Don’t be afraid to say you’re wrong, or to change your mind.
  • As a wise professor once told me, don’t let your schooling get in the way of your education. Do what you love. Love what you do. Get out into the city. Seriously. But don’t get too cool for Columbia traditions. Tree lighting, Bacchanal, Homecoming, Varsity Show, KCST’s Spring Show, Holi, Orgo Night, Pillow Fight – go to them.
  • A little gratitude goes a long way. Work hard. Be generous. Do good. Have fun. If you love Columbia, which I hope you will, find a way to use your talents to give back. If you don’t like something, take steps to make it better. Complaining doesn’t do anything. Leave your community better than when you found it. I truly believe you go the the greatest college in the world. Make the absolute most of your four years here – of the city, your professors, and most of all your peers. Wear your light blue with pride.

Any regrets? Had some growing pains, but no regrets. I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything. Thanks for an incredible four years, Columbia.

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  1. Back in my day  

    "You ran out of dining dollars by the second week of the semester"

    How is this not still true?

  2. Anonymous  

    This is the best senior wisdom

  3. Anonymous  

    I love Emily so much. She's a great friend and every single piece of advice that she gave here is absolutely true. Best of luck in the future, Em, we're all going to miss you!

  4. Carman 11-er '09-'10

    Emily was my RA my freshman year and she really is as great in real life as she sounds in her Senior Wisdom! She's definitely touched a lot of people here, myself included!

  5. Lisa

    Emily Nagel. Your passion and care for everyone you know and everything you do has inspired me so much these past four years. It's people like you that make me beyond proud to be a Columbian.

    Go kill it in Mississippi! I just hope those kids realize how lucky they are to have you.


    also: you+me> phillies game. next year, 50 years from now, and every year in between.

    • Allie  

      I am going to take you and Lisa to a Mets game this summer :)

      But for real, thanks for being an amazing frosh RA, mentor, and friend! Have fun in Mississippi, but come back soon because Ill miss you!


  6. Anonymous  

    Love you Nugget!

  7. furnald 2  

    Emily was my CA this year, and I absolutely love her! She's the greatest and I have nothing but respect and admiration for her; such a kind and lovely soul.

  8. "killer"  

    not that anyone online has the right to objectify women or reduce them to their physical appearance but emily is secretly pretty. learn to take a picture, nagel.

  9. Anonymous  

    emily is awesome!

  10. She is...  

    ...going to be the next Liz Lemon
    Even if it isn't in the world of comedy, wherever she goes, she will take that snarky spirit and sense of humor with her. Go get 'em, Emily!

  11. Anonymous

    BWOG- can we get a few more athletes??

  12. Anonymous  

    Also definitely had a crush on this girl this year... hmm.

    All the best, Emily.

  13. Anonymous  

    "It’s okay to be the radical who likes things, who’s not complaining, who has a positive attitude."

    An interesting comment, coming from one of the snarkiest, most negative people I've ever met at this school... The idea that liking everything and believing the world is a perfect place is a "radical" position is inane, and Emily Nagel complains about pretty much everything.

    • elizabeth logan  

      yeah emily nagel does complain a lot. she's not like those classy people who write mean things online so that they can insult others without being vulnerable themselves. i suppose its her negativity that inspires her to be a leader in res life, theater and teach for america. and if you don't know many snarkier people at columbia, you should meet me! i live in mcbain. let's chat.

    • Lisa

      Have you met Emily?

      She is THE most positive person I know. She believes in everyone and brings out the best in people. She can expect a lot, but only because she wants everyone to meet their full potential. This is what makes her such a great leader and a great friend.

      By snarky do you mean hilariously sarcastic? Because she is really funny, I'll give you that.

    • Bella  

      I honestly can't think of a time when I heard Emily Nagel complain. Except maybe about rude anonymous commenters on Bwog.

  14. Anonymous  

    emily always struck me as one of those girls who had NO IDEA how attractive she really is. that's a pity, really, because she is quite lovely.
    she has an awkward/snarky first impression but when you get to know her, she's incredibly understanding and hardworking. she's destined to do great things.

  15. dearest emily  

    there is power in being concise. just fyi

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