Senior Wisdom: Jeff Stern

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Name, Hometown, School, Major: Jeff Stern, Los Angeles, California, CC’ 12, Film

Claim to Fame? I’m another guy who successfully transferred to Columbia from a school in California, and once the admissions office used me for a photo shoot for the “Blue Book” but settled on a picture where all you can see is the back of my head. Also, I wrote sketches for Chowdah, and both XMAS!5 and the 118th Varsity Show.

Where are you going? Staying in NY to break the glass ceiling that has long kept Jews out of the entertainment industry.

Three things you learned at Columbia

  1. Chipotle secretly offers Chicken Quesadillas.
  2. From my three years working in the admissions office: a lot of people would kill to be in your shoes and many times those people scream at me when they’ve sent their SAT scores to GS instead of CC
  3. Sometimes you’ll enter yourself in an online costume contest and sometimes you’ll technically win but will really be the loser when you can’t get the picture of yourself as a super gay Anderson Cooper off the internet.

“Back in my day…” “Moody” wasn’t just a descriptor for President Bollinger, she was our Dean. I once got to sit with Moody-Adams when I introduced her at Columbia fundraiser in California and was taken aback by how thoughtful, well-spoken and genuinely caring she was. Months later, she deliberately went out of her way on college walk to ask me how I was doing. I miss you, MiMoo.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less: James Franco was in my first Columbia class, and the night before the final, he recognized me in Butler and asked me what the format of our test was.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? My junior year, when I lived on the 7th floor of Ruggles, my suitemate decided to organize an impromptu party between our suite and the one next door. Many drinks later, I was walking through the sweaty dance club that was once my kitchen when I suddenly noticed how wet and dirty the floor was. “It’s going to suck to clean this up,” I thought as I watched the floor increasingly get wetter and wetter. Smash-cut to me, swinging open the door to the bathroom. Turns out some kid broke our toilet and that the whole suite was flooding (and I mean, FLOODING) with water. Drunkenly bailing out toilet water at 1 am was not fun, but even after we flooded the two floors below us, I never heard anything about the incident.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? As my good friend, Giraldo (CC ’11)** said: “Cheese can suck my dick.”

**Giraldo may or may not be the fictional peer I created to keep this from being attributed to me on the Internet for eternity.

Advice for the class of 2016:

  • Live in the moment. As trite as that sounds – smartphones and Facebook make it so that we always know what people are up to without us. Stop, disconnect, and enjoy the people you’re lucky enough to be surrounded with at the given moment.
  • Sometimes your best friend won’t make the best roommate, but many times, your roommate can become an incredible best friend (I’m looking at you, Daniel, Liza, and Angelica).
  • Not to sound like NEEEEEV O’ Brien, here but: Find your dream company, intern there, and make friends at said company. It did me wonders.
  • Never forget what it was like on the other-side—how much you wanted to come here when you toured the school and what it felt like checking that admissions decision. Similarly, never forget the family members who have made sacrifices to make sure that a college education could be a reality for you—albeit one in the best city in the world.
  • DO NOT BUY INTO THE “WOE IS ME, I’M IN BUTLER ALL DAY” CULTURE. If you’re consistently staying up until 5 in the morning doing work, you’re not doing college right.
  • To “the boys out there” – coming out my freshman year was one of the best decisions I ever made. Technically it’s none of my business, but I just wanted to reaffirm that you’ll find people here who will care about you no matter what.
  • To the girls out there: he’s probably gay.
  • To the ones who aren’t, a warning: Jamie Stern, CC Class of 2016 = my sister. Watch your backs.

Any regrets? Bacchanal 2011, I got started way too early and ended up passing out in my bed, exhausted, before any of the artists even took the stage (I know – pretty pathetic…but really just funny). Other than that, I really don’t have any. Maybe it’s the fact that I just saw Titanic in 3D pretty recently, but as a transfer student, I really do feel like Jack Dawson winning the poker hand that suddenly changed his life forever. Admittedly, this is probably a terrible comparison as 1) Jack dies and 2) the ship sinks, but I do consistently pinch myself every time I step on this campus at night. I wouldn’t have changed the last few years for the world.

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  1. me


  2. Anonymous  

    Is it just me or are like 70% of this year's Senior Wisdom's gay? I think that says something awesome about this school.

  3. HE'S GAY?  


  4. Anonymous

    What year did this guy year transfer?

  5. Anonymous

    I meant what year did this guy transfer? It is obvious I need sleep.

  6. cc '16

    All of these senior wisdoms make Columbia seem like a gay paradise... there will be hell to pay if every other boy isn't gay. HELL TO PAY, I TELL YOU.

  7. John Goodwin CC '12  

    Jeff is an amazing writer, comedian, and friend--and he is going to DOMINATE the entertainment industry. I'm certain of this. I literally spent 5 hours a day with him, every day this semester... and if you can come out of that still liking someone, they're a keeper.

    Love ya, brother. 118 fo life.

    • Anonymous  

      I also know Jeff through his writing of the Varsity Show. I gotta say, I love John Goodwin and Jeff Stern. And their illegitimate love-child Lexi Goodstern.

  8. Jenny Singer BC '15  

    I loved this. Funny and sweet and smart. Rock on, Jeff.

  9. Angelica (Jeff's roommate)  

    The key to winning Jeff's heart: back massages.
    The way he won mine: bear hugs.

  10. never met you but  

    the varsity show was AWESOME. props to the brilliant writers. <3

  11. Anonymous

    this has been the best senior wisdom yet. Jeff, you rock. So happy we used to do improv in LA together. you know who this is... if you are reading.

  12. TK  

    is one of those you notice on campus all the time because he's so good looking, and you start to say hi but then realize you've never actually been introduced.
    Good to know he has a sense of humor and a healthy attitude towards life.
    All the best.

  13. Anonymous  

    "Jews" -- (why does it matter?)

    "Glass ceiling" -- (passé?)

    "Entertainment INDUSTRY" -- (without a question, that's a problem)

    ...and that's why there's a 'glass ceiling,' perhaps...

  14. Anonymous  

    This is the second person who has ruined Titanic for me! Spoiler Alerts are not optional film majors!

    (sidenote: This whole Senior Wisdom was brilliant)

  15. Buckley  

    The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks, represent!!

  16. Anonymous  

    "Never forget what it was like on the other-side—how much you wanted to come here when you toured the school and what it felt like checking that admissions decision"

    ...if we skipped out early on our tour because we grew up in NY and had been to Columbia before, and we really never wanted to come here because we hate the core, and in the end we only ended up here because we would give up basically anything to be in New York City, then do we have the right to roll our eyes at the prospies?

  17. Land and Sea Party  

    ended with the perfect ironic twist. Toilet water is the true enemy in the war on fun.

  18. hmmm  

    i wonder how your sister got in..

  19. Anonymous  

    Staying in NY to break the glass ceiling that has long kept Jews out of the entertainment industry.

    brilliant. Good luck!

  20. Anonymous  

    trannies 4ever.

  21. I still  

    talk about the night shit water rained from our ceiling. Worst night ever, especially cuz drunk Columbian's don't know how to unclog (or turn off) toilets -.-

  22. Emily (clark kerr)

    this is hilarious jeff!! missed you at Cal, but i'm so happy you loved it so much at columbia :)

  23. remy

    jeff, you are so talented and such a friendly, sweet person. i can't wait to see what amazing things you do next :)

  24. Anonymous  

    Jeff you are the man. I aspire to be like you one day. You are hysterical, brilliant, kind, and thoughtful. If I match you at one of those things by the time I'm a senior I'd be incredibly stoked. Thanks for being such a great guy and friend during the whole V118 process, it was an honor reading the words you (and John) wrote. Have blast shaping the entertainment industry, I know I'll have a blast watching you do it.

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