#senior wisdom
Senior Wisdom: Arvind Srinivasan

Arvind Srinivasan

The other half of the Bwog Tech dream team: Arvind Srinivasan, a man who shatters our previous “cheese-related puns” record.

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Arvind Srinivasan, 510, Bay Area, CA, SEAS, Computer Science

Claim to fame: As a 4 year member of the shadow Bwog government, I ran tech with Sam (Ruby Prince/ Big Deal/ Flat Stanley) Aarons, which meant that I was a voting member on the committee that made Bwog white. For those not around for it, the general reaction was this. I made the decision to give comment trolls the reward of Comic Sans. I was also the president of the Rock Climbing Club. One of the people at Chipotle knows my name, and I have over 250 seamless confirmations in my email (pad thai is the only part of a balanced diet, right?).

Where are you going? Zurich, Switzerland to work at Google on giving Gary Busey something else to talk to. Recognizing that there are Google offices in NYC and Mountain View, this is not a slight on the two places I have lived, which are the greatest and greatest places in the world, respectively. I’m just sick of waking up at 7AM to watch soccer games.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1) If you’ve ever felt that Columbia isn’t giving you your money’s worth extra-curricularly, or have a passing interest in anything remotely athletic, join one of the club sports. Joining the Climbing Club was the best decision I made in the last 4 years (aside from maybe buying a hammock), not only because going on outdoor trips on weekends probably (relatively) preserved my sanity, but because I found a community early-on that turned out to be the greatest group of mentors and friends anyone could hope for (to be fair, I’m sure this is true for other clubs as well). Also, club sports get an incredible amount of financial support from Columbia, and are designed to be as cheap as possible for people to go on otherwise expensive trips.

I was promised cheesy puns.

Senior Wisdom: Sam Aarons

Sam Aarons + jealous bison

Meet one half of the reason that Bwog doesn’t break on a daily basis. This next Senior Wisdom comes from Sam Aarons, who looks pretty fly in a panda hat.

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Sam Aarons, Salinas, CA (no I haven’t read Of Mice and Men, yes I have read Cannery Row), SEAS, Computer Science

Claim to fame: Print@CU, Housing@CU, Courses@CU, WikiCU, this one article, and Bwog Tech for four years.

Where are you going? San Francisco, to fulfill my lifelong dream of starting my own company and being unable to have a vacation for the next 2 years. I’m thinking 1) a social network for Dairy Queen employees or 2) a website that pretends to send your documents to printers on campus.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1) Don’t be in such a rush to graduate early. I’ve had a few opportunities to drop out and live the Zuckerberg Dream™, but each time I decided that I just wasn’t ready yet. Being at Columbia is an immensely personal experience and has allowed me to grow as an individual. You might be able to pull that off in 3/2/1 year(s), but it’s really the constant interaction with others who are going through the same experience that really makes it worth sticking out for.

But how should I meet other Dairy Queen employees?

Senior Wisdom: Anna Bahr

Anna Bahr

Our last Senior Wisdom of the day comes from the beautiful and badass Anna Bahr. If you don’t already know who she is, get ready for some serious learnin’.

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Anna Bahr, Los Angeles loyalist, Barnard, “Political Science”

Claim to fame:  Managing Editor of The Blue and White. Among other things, I wrote stuff about student debt, sexual assault, killing mice, and why I know what I’m talking about. Natural volume of my voice is a few decibels louder than your avg human, so you’ve probably heard me whining with a soft yell in Butler.

Where are you going? Headed to The Upshot at the NYT for at least a bit.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1) Try not to be an asshole. For a long time I thought post-adolescence was an unavoidably selfish time. But we can try a little harder. Freshman year especially can be tough: everybody has the same new shot at being their best or coolest self and everybody knows it’s a little phony and embarrassing and everybody feels insecure and uncertain. There’s a lot to be gained from being kinder and more generous with people than you expect yourself to be. Curb the judgment for at least a minute. Also, try not to pat yourselves on the back for your SAT scores or college acceptance letters. It’s boring.

Tell us the best place to lose a tooth, please.

Senior Wisdom: Renée Kraiem
See: field notes

See: field notes

Another lovely Bwogger shares their Wisdom. If you’ve ever needed some guidance on sunburns, free sweatshirts, or the day after Bacchanal, Renée Kraiem is the woman to talk to.

Name, School, Major: Renée Kraiem, BC ‘14, English

Claim to fame: More famous for getting outed on Bwog than working for it, apparently.

Where are you going? Literally nowhere. I’ll be finishing up credits next fall under a conditional mandate from my parents that I participate in absolutely nothing extra­curricular and make at least what looks like an attempt to become gainfully employed.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1. Send a follow­up email. During NSOP I signed up to get updates for how to get involved with The Varsity Show, and, after never receiving any of said updates, wrote it off as a place to get involved. Through a series of happy accidents I ended up the Stage Manager of the 119th Annual Varsity Show, which gave me a family here and changed the way I think about myself and my career. If only I’d sent a follow­up email, maybe I’d have three sweatshirts instead of two.

Tell us more!

Senior Wisdom: Peter Sterne

Peter Sterne

Another former Bwogger is here to spread their Wisdom: Peter Sterne, who once told the New York Times that “The nice thing is if the world does end tonight, we don’t have to take our finals tomorrow.”

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Peter Sterne, Greenwich, CT, Columbia College, Anthropology

Claim to fame: I was one of Bwog’s managing editors. I hopped lectures, discovered that hammocks are anti-colonial, and briefly turned Bwog into a radio show. I can also tell you who pays interns.

Where are you going? To Connecticut for a few weeks until I find a sublet in the city, and then back to the city to do journalism.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1) It’s good to be critical, but not self-critical. One of the great things about Columbians is that they think critically about, well, everything. From CC discussions to Bwog comments to Spec op-eds and protests on College Walk, Columbians like to think question and problematize the world. But when that criticism turns inward, it can become toxic and paralyzing. You should interrogate your privileges and examine your choices, but don’t let that turn into self-hate. Just be confident in yourself. Of course, you don’t want to overboard and become entitled, believing that people deserve to talk to you or sleep with you just because you’re nice and you go to Columbia and you’ll wait all night for them next to Alma Mater… But do be confident in yourself.

Teach me how to be, Peter!

Senior Wisdom: Conor Skelding
Conor Skelding

Conor Skelding

Future journalists listen up. This next Senior Wisdom is from Conor Skelding, famous in the journalistic community for his baby blues.

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Conor Skelding, River Forest, IL, Columbia College, English

Claim to fame: Published all sorts of stuff (at Bwog and The Blue and White for 3.5 years, at the Lion for 0.5.). Preserved institutional memory by reviving WikiCU. Led COÖP trips.

Where are you going? Continuing to cover City Hall for Capital New York.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1. It’s as important to be for something as against something. (I’m not saying, “Don’t judge,” “Don’t be a hater,” or, “It’s all relative.” There is plenty to be against. I’m only saying that it is as important to build up the good as tear down evil.)

2. If you become highly involved in “the Columbia community,” it can be a fun sandbox to play in—only remember that it is a sandbox. There are, campus politicians (both administrators and students), campus news media, lots of scandals, etc., so it’s easy to get wrapped up in Morningside Heights. But a big shot on campus is not a world-historical figure. Remember that there is a city out there.

Advice to future campus reporters?

Senior Wisdom: Raphaëlle Debenedetti
Raph, living the life

Raph, living the life

Up next for a Senior Wisdom, we have another of Bwog’s own: Raphaëlle Debenedetti, mastermind behind one-thousand-and-twenty.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Raph(aëlle) Deben(edetti), Columbia College, Philosophy & Political Theory. Go to answer since Fall 2010: “I’m a French-American from London.”

Claim to fame: (Failed to have) Made One Thousand and Twenty (1,020) a thing. If the 1(,0)20th Varsity Show has a line about it, that counts as a thing, right?

Where are you going? Right now, to Hamdel to get coconut water and ask Saoul for a Lewinsky. Later, to relocate in another Columbia (DC) and work in anti-corruption law. Much later, wherever my feet take me.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

It’s hard not to be cheesy for this one (that’s what she said…when she answered the “oral sex or cheese” question!)

1) Life is like a game of Chess.

You win some, you lose some. And if you aren’t loosing, you need a new opponent. Learn from your defeats as much as from your victories. With time you will know how to make each move count. Speaking of which, go talk to Ademar and Moise, the two incredible human beings who play chess in front of Orens. I promise you, it’s worth it.

But I’m waiting for a joke about change…

Senior Wisdom: Alexandra Svokos

For our final wave of Senior Wisdoms, we’ll be hearing from a group of people near and dear to our hearts: graduating Bwoggers. Up first to share her wisdom with the world is Alexandra Svokos, former Bwog Editor in Chief and future ruler of the world.


Alexandra Svokos

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Alexandra Svokos, Franklin Lakes, NJ, CC, Economics and Creative Writing

Claim to fame: I got a little involved in college journalism. But you probably know me as that annoying opera fanatic. Or something.

Where are you going? All the way to the top.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1. Sometimes nonfiction writing workshops are quicker and more effective than CPS appointments.

2. Don’t stay friends with anyone who kisses you and calls it a mistake.

3. You guys are so weird. Also a serious word of advice because a surprising amount of people don’t get this: if you put your name on something on the Internet while you are in school — even if it’s just on a college news blog — it will stay there forever (yes, even after you graduate).

Teach us your ways, Svokos

Senior Wisdom: Rakhi Agrawal

Rakhi Agrawal

Up next for a Senior Wisdom: Rakhi Agrawal, who has a metric ton of advice to share.

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Rakhi; West Hartford, CT; BC; Applied Math and Philosophy

Claim to fame: I did a thing or two, here and there. The girl who will love you if you let her.

Where are you going? Right now, to seek out $5 margs at The Heights (meet me there and I’ll buy you one). In life, somewhere other than here.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1) Creating community is an art, not a science. When I first got to campus, “community” and “wellness” were probably terms reserved for use by the Blue Books, admissions sessions, and therapists. My sophomore year, that all changed. I had a friend who, for about a month, I had no contact with. We were both on campus, but I not once texted her to tell her I missed her, or that I was thinking of her, or that she had touched me, or that I needed her, or that I wanted to see her. After that month, I lost my chance forever. Imagine yourself in that situation with not only your best friends here, but also your less close friends. The people who you care about and admire but don’t talk to regularly. If the thought of this feels at all painful to you, try not to let it happen to you. Don’t let your closest friendships dissolve. Love deeply and forgive quickly. If I have learned anything, it is that creating community at Columbia–even a community, a pocket on campus–is an ever-evolving, ever-changing vision. There is no recipe for community–it doesn’t take a certain personality type or a certain amount of resources or a lack of student death or anything. Three essential tools are truth, empathy, solidarity.

LOTS more to learn after the jump

Senior Wisdom: Prashant Dhanraj

Prashant Dhanraj

Next up for a Senior Wisdom is Prashant Dhanraj, who self-describes as “that cute Indian guy” and has some potentially dark thoughts about cheese.

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Prashant Dhanraj, Calgary, Canada, SEAS, Mechanical Engineering

Claim to fame: That cute Indian guy?

Where are you going? Hopefully to Germany to study automotive engineering! I haven’t really ironed out my career ambitions yet, so for now I’m sticking with my childhood dream of eventually becoming a Formula 1 race engineer (basically achieving rocket scientist-status for car nuts).

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1. I believe that the most valuable thing you can get from your Columbia education is the chance to meet the amazing people here. Making relationships with these superstars is one of the best uses of your tuition for sure. There are so many people I’ve met here who are profoundly inspiring and who have made me grow and develop more so in four years than ever before. Never have I met more stellar and multi-talented people before, from all walks of life (and from all schools!). Going to an Ivy League school may not mean that all your professors and all the resources are exceptional, but it does certainly mean that your peers will be astonishingly so.

Any advice on tequila?

Senior Wisdom: Maddy Popkin

Maddy Popkin

Even though finals are over, you can always use a little more wisdom. Today’s Senior Wisdom is from Maddy Popkin, who refuses to capitalize anything.

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Maddy Popkin, (staunchly) Barnard, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Major, Race & Ethnic Studies Concentrator, Spanish minor

Claim to fame: wellwoman peer educator [resident diva cup + armpit hair enthusiast], former q president, outgoing SGA President, creator of cutest millie-the-bear-campaign photos, maintains a stubborn distaste for capital letters.

Where are you going? staying here!

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1. “The university needs what she bears but cannot bear what she brings.”-Fred Moten and Stefano Harney in their book The Undercommons. as students, we have more potential for power than we think we do–or are supposed to feel we do. the white-cis-hetero-patriarchy is real. wellness in the face of that monster is hard, change is even harder. but trust yourself, trust your discontent, and keep acting on it–and do it all carefully because…

But should I shave my head?

Senior Wisdom: Yoachim Haynes


Today’s first Senior Wisdom is from Yoachim Haynes, whose teeth marks are on the floor of JJ15.

Name, Hometown, School, Major

Yoachim (as in “YO! KIM!” not Phoenix or Noah)
Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean, not Africa as some have asked :/)
Environmental Engineering (All about them trees!)

Claim to fame: One question in and I’m stumped…this is gonna be rough.

I like to think of my finest moment as the time I demolished three teeth while attempting to do backflips in my JJ15 double. Teeth marks are still in the floor, which I found out is concrete covered in wood-vinyl, not real wood. I’ve left my mark in the most literal sense.

Where are you going? Existential crisis in 3…2…1…

If my work authorization comes through (fingers crossed), I’ll be in NYC for a few months working with a clean-tech consulting and events company. After, I’ll likely be off to San Fran with the same company and eventually back to Trinidad.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1. My friends have shaped the person that I have become. More than anything else, the people I have kept close to me have had the most significant impact on my life. I’ve learned the most about the world, life and myself from the conversations I’ve had with them. The crazy thing is that you don’t really get to choose who enters your life, as a fair deal of it is chance encounter and placement. You do have agency over who stays in your life however. Please… PLEASE… don’t waste time on people who aren’t worth it and try to ensure that the people in your close circles want the best for you and you for them.

Two more things—what could they be?

Senior Wisdom: Arvin Ahmadi

Our next Senior Wisdom is from Arvin Ahmadi, who completely changes our perspective on Loraxes.


Arvin Ahmadi

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Arvin Ahmadi, Centreville, VA (“outside DC”), CC, Political Science, Computer Science

Claim to fame: President of Ivy Council. Former reporter/blogger/columnist/photographer for Spec. I once joked in a Spectrum post that the ultimate mark of success is to have shirts made with your face on them, and now, thanks to a 21st birthday surprise from Nicole Bleuel, there are approximately 35 #Arvining shirts floating around campus with my face on them. That makes me fame-ish, right?

Where are you going? Scotland for six weeks and then back to New York. I’ll be working on a small startup within a somewhat larger startup called Yext.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1) You learn the most in uncomfortable circumstances. I’m not saying you should turn off your AC in July or try driving through Times Square – those are New York City nightmares. But do get out of your comfort zone. Whether that’s taking a job you’re not totally qualified for (check), traveling alone to a foreign country (check), or sampling that caffeinated drink everyone is so obsessed with (both coffee and Four Loko changed my life), throw yourself into situations where you can’t predict the outcome and watch yourself grow.

But where can I find the best chicken sandwich on Earth!?

Senior Wisdom: Claire Kao And Mahima Chablani
ClaireMahima ClaireMahimerson

ClaireMahima ClaireMahimerson

Name, Hometown, School, Major:
ClaireMahima ClaireMahimerson (Claire Kao and Mahima Chablani), Santa Monica, CA and Pittsburgh, PA, SEAS and CC, Civil Engineering and English

Claim to fame:
Claim to flame, you ask? Collectively we’ve infiltrated each other’s worlds of COÖP, GSAPP, WKCR, and Carman 7 (2012-2013). But we’re probably better known for NOISE: If you hear anyone around you screaming “Uncle !” in place of curse words or “Thanks, Mom !!” to a stranger, that’s us. And why do we scream intimate names at sometime-strangers? Because addressing people as family automatically makes your day warmer, it’s fun you should try it.

Where are you going?
Community Food & Juice for huevos rancheros, then home for 5 seconds, then NYC for hopefully 20 seconds or more.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1) To find, cultivate, and gather The Good People. You’ll know who they are. Your freshman year floormate who helps you move out, even though you exchanged five words all year. The girl from your NSOP group who isn’t afraid to say “hi” to you three years later. The boy who walks the extra block with you because you were mid-thought. The Good People may not be your best friends, and they may seem invisible, but they’re usually in the most obvious spaces. Hold onto them. They may be situated in a different world than your own, but your shared values allow you to intersect from time to time.

More wisdom from the dynamic duo

Senior Wisdom: Gerardo Romo

Our next senior wisdom is from Gerardo Romo, zine-lover and activist extraordinaire. 


Gerardo Romo

Name, Hometown, School, Major:
Gerardo Romo, Perris, California, Columbia College, Ethnic Studies

Claim to fame:
The brown gay guy that told Bollinger students of color didn’t feel supported on campus despite being Columbia’s image of diversity and progress and then wrote an op-ed about it that no one really got the point of?? Also member of the infamous Q House. And 3 year board member of Proud Colors (read our zines!) and angry gay ex-political/gender&sexuality chair of Chicano Caucus. :)

Where are you going?
I’m not sure yet. I’m still looking for a job to stay in the city with the bae *keep your fingers crossed*

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2018?

1). Isolation is temporary.

There’s been many days, weeks, and even months during my time here that I felt that the loneliness I felt would last forever, that the emptiness would never leave. But I’ve learned that, eventually, it always does. That’s not saying it didn’t hurt or traumatize me or that it wasn’t the most difficult I’ve ever experienced, but there is always a light at the end of this oppressive tunnel.

Spoiler: an actual answer to oral sex or cheese.