Senior Wisdom: Valerie Pinkerton

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We’re going on another Senior Wisdom bender for the next two hours. Enjoy, and play nice in the comments!

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Valerie Pinkerton, Toledo, Ohio, Columbia College, Triple Concentrating in E3B, Economics, Political Science

Claim to Fame? Effusive COÖP leader, Valedictator of Bach Society (sorry I’m not sorry about “bringin’ sexy Bach’), Greenborough house coordinator, blatantly typecast in LateNite/KCST, occasional CMNUCE, majoring in everything

Where are you going? As many places as I possibly can! Next up is a month traveling in India, then working for a few years before grad school to study development and environmental policy.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. Believe in yourself with everything you’ve got. The worst reason not to try something is because you’re afraid you’re not good enough. Don’t be too preoccupied with the realm of possibility and go after whatever you are passionate about.
  2. The key to actually getting your maintenance request completed is to somehow relate the issue to an illness.
  3. I learned to love learning at Columbia. I maintain that I did not know how to read before Professor Sacks spent our first day of Lit Hum talking about the first page of The Iliad. The passion my professors showed for their subjects has condemned me to a lifetime as a student, and I couldn’t be more grateful to all of them.

“Back in my day…” Jokes weren’t exclusively told through formats dictated by the interwebs. Gifs? Tumblrs? Memes? I’m a big believer in good old fashioned puns.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I first learned to scuba dive illegally with treasure hunters in the Dominican Republic. I rely on my sense of adventure and love of the environment to redeem me.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? The truth is that Columbia only perpetuates the image of a War on Fun to reduce their enforcement costs. In reality, facilities is composed almost entirely of guardian angels who will enable all those bold enough to pursue campus adventures. When my friends and I were locked in Low around 1am after hanging out on the roof, a janitor escorted us out past the security desk without asking any questions.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I fear my Swiss citizenship would be revoked if I said cheese. Gouda never disappoints.

Advice for the class of 2016:

  • I have general advice and then a series of mantras that I have accumulated over the past four years that my friends and I tend to fall back on in times of trouble.
  • Lay out the classes you absolutely can’t graduate without taking. Declare whatever combination of majors/concentrations best fits those classes. If your major/housing/friends/extra-curriculars aren’t inspiring and enriching your time here, burn everything and start over. Do COÖP.


1.) No fear

2.) Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it

3.) Exclusively bold moves

3.) Shine, shine, shine

4.) There comes a time when you want it more than you fear it.

Any regrets? It took me until my junior year to realize how much power I had to take control of my own happiness by making the changes I needed. I missed out on a lot of what Columbia had to offer while I was still suffocated by a fear of making a mistake and the misconception that my education and my time here were means to an end. Also, the wonderful Sonal Mallya and I actually met at a dinner during NSOP, but didn’t get to know each other until we lived together senior year!

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  1. head over heels  

    Valerie. Oh Valerie. Beautiful, brilliant, witty, and oh so glamorous. Jeez I'm so hopelessly in love with this girl.

  2. D  

    val is the greatest person ever.

  3. Sonal  

    I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! So glad we got a second chance at friendship!

  4. I frequently mis-hear things.  

    Let's make love!

  5. WL  

    Thank you for mentioning Professor Sacks. Love you and that man.

  6. valerie  

    I wish I'd met you sooner! youre awesome!

  7. Steele  

    Exclusively bold moves. Fuck yeah. Gonna' miss you champ!


    Pinkerton = the most underrated Weezer album!

  9. I hear you like puns  

    That is a Gouda answer to the oral sex or cheese question

  10. opinionator

    tip of the hat for triple concentrating. that requires a very rare mix of love, dedication, and work ethic.

    what i really didn't like:

    "is to somehow relate the issue to a life-threatening illness. For example, feign epilepsy if one of your lights is flickering."

    Yeah, because that is hilarious. I hope you realize how douchebaggery that is to do or say, Valerie.

  11. Adrenaline Sister

    Valerie is brilliant and bold, fun-loving and dedicated. Girl's got some killer abs and a spirit for adventure. In another life, she was a pirate.


  12. Anonymous  

    Valerie was the first person I met at Columbia and I was immediately struck by her vivaciousness, zest for life, charm, and generosity. She's the type of person you can text at 4 in the morning to watch the lunar eclipse from the roof of NoCo. The type who cares about everything she does and is smart enough to walk away when need be. Love this girl to infinity and beyond.

  13. Anonymous  

    I was lucky enough to have Valerie as a COÖP leader. We haven't really kept in touch but I wish we had. Still one of my favorite people at Columbia.

  14. Chris  

    Val you're the best! You better go become a superhero or something, because any other profession does not have nearly come close to meeting your levels of swag. Will miss you loads!


  15. Anonymous  

    Exclusively bold moves! It was crazy when we went surfing and the giant jellyfish wrapped its tentacles around your entire body, but you took it like a champ!

  16. Serena  

    Val you are amazing! You are going to be amazing and represent OHHS and Columbia so well in whatever you pursue. Congrats, you will be missed!

  17. Anonymous  

    whoops- amazing 2x a bit delirious from finals but that is what you are!! xx

  18. This is probably  

    the most love that a Senior Wisdom is ever going to get... but it's much deserved so I'll add to it. You rock, Valerie!

  19. Jake

    "Gouda never disappoints."

    Valerie Pinkerton, you are wonderful.

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