Senior Wisdom: Claire Duvallet

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Claire Duvallet

For the last Senior Wisdom of the day we have Claire Duvallet, who made your life a lot better, even if you didn’t realize it.

Name, Hometown, School: Claire Duvallet; Austin, TX (mostly); SEAS BME

Claim to fame? Puppieslawns, and SEAS study abroad

Where are you going? Phnom Penh, Cambodia to work for Engineering World Health as a Luce Scholar next year. Then MIT for my Ph.D. in biological engineering. Hurray for not having to make any life decisions till next decade!

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1.  Quality >> quantity. This goes for words, friends, and time spent studying.
  2. Happiness deserves a spot on your to-do list, and your well-being should be scheduled into your life as much as your millions of problem sets or essays. The amount of work you’ll get done past a certain time at night is less than the amount you’ll gain from your increased productivity the next day because you’re happy that you slept or went out with friends or whatever.
  3. If you want something, ask for it (nicely)! Also and related, every choice you make is two choices: the choice and its consequences. Bitching without acting means that you essentially choose and accept that whatever you’re complaining about is gonna keeping being what it is. Approach individuals in good faith and you’ll be astounded by the response. Administrators at Columbia DO care, it just gets lost somewhere in the trickle-down. When Carolyn and I spoke to the groundskeeper about the lawns, he said he’d never heard these concerns from students before–actually it’s probably just that no one had ever approached him without having already decided he was the enemy (he’s not! He’s such a grandpa!!). Be willing to listen and understand the other side of the story and you’ll see that yours gets through so much easier.

Back in my day…John Jay had waffles err’day, green flags were a myth, and SEAS study abroad seemed impossible.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I believe stories are the currency of life and strive to live accordingly. Also Goldfarb has a picture of me on his phone and free pens exist because of me.

Write a CU Admirers post to anyone or anything at Columbia: To beer and work nights: thank you for making me fall in love with everything that is life. Never thought I’d look forward to doing the work I look forward to the least, but snuggling into my couch with a Magic Hat in one hand and a “alright I need to get this done before I get too drunk to do it” attitude in the other was all I needed! (By the way Columbia I highly recommend this. If I could do senior design over again it would involve a lot more beer.)

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I’m French and Westside’s on my way home. This has been a no-brainer for years now.

One thing to do before graduating: Make your resume work for you and not the other way around. Do what you’d be doing even without pay or recognition, and then find a way to get paid for it/put it on your resume. It’s like that Dr. Seuss quote about the people who matter and the people who mind: the companies/grad schools/fellowships that will snub their nose at your “you” resume are the ones you don’t wanna hang out with anyway.

Any regrets? Not doing the bioimaging track. Also not going to more student performances, but then again one of the things I’ve learned here is to stop guilt-tripping myself about that kind of stuff and instead trust that past me had a good reason for passing on those things (i.e. need sleep/sanity).

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  1. !!!!!  

    Claire is truly the best. Congratulations on everything - you deserve it!!

  2. rebecca gray

    claire, you are a superb percussionist and a superb friend. well. done.

  3. Anonymous  

    WTF BWOG. there has been no barnard senior wisdoms. elitist motherfuckers.

  4. that picture  


  5. yl  

    claire, you are hella modest about this shit so I just want to lay it down: you work hard and want the best for people and want little credit when a ton is due. you respond to emails promptly and are devoted and present and inspire those around you to step up their game because you're got a knack for being an example of having good game. so cheers to you and your salutatorianism and cambodia and really, really good belgian pale ales.

    with puppy love,

  6. Jaded Graduate Student

    This is quite possibly the best photo and one of the coolest seniors right here. Good luck to you Claire!

  7. Another Claire

    You're an inspiration, Claire! Congratulations on your graduation, and best of luck in Cambodia and beyond!

  8. Steve C.  

    Thanks for getting me through Accelerated Physics through keeping things chill when everyone else was panicking or beasting. You're a genuinely great person, and I'm happy to see all the awesome things that have come your way this year.

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