Senior Wisdom: Reim Salaheldin Atabani

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Name, School:
Reim Salaheldin Atabani, BC

Claim to fame:

I don’t make any claim to fame, but I’m a former MSA exec and RA. I’ve managed to know a lot of people without really being known. And I suppose I’m the last person you’d expect to be from Las Vegas who actually is.

Post-grad plans:

Self-actualization? I’m not sure. I’d like to work for a year. Then I’m convinced I’m going to take photographs and learn Arabic in Khartoum. Eventually, I’d love to practice urban planning in Muslim societies as I listen to the call to prayer five times a day and try to live a carbon neutral life.

Preferred swim test stroke?

I haven’t stepped into a pool in over a decade, by choice, which is one more reason I appreciate Barnard (and swimmers!).

What are three things you learned at Columbia?

1. Even at a place like Columbia University, where we’re surrounded by a certain type of accomplishment, there are still a million different ways to be amazing. No personal effort or experience has to be insignificant as long as it’s a positive contribution, even if just in your own life. So trust your instincts enough to live by your own expectations and values instead of others’.

2. Good character is rewarded far more often than ego. It’s more rewarding, too. I was lucky enough to have friends who proved that to me this past year.

3. The community here is incestuous, so it’s a good idea to be nice as you tell that obnoxious person in Butler to be quiet. She’ll probably end up being your RA.

4. Sleeping at odd hours or not at all for four years seriously impairs your ability to do things, like count properly. Plus, I think college is much more worthwhile when you’re not sleep walking through it.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less.

I might not come to your party, but I’ll help you bake a cake.

What was your favorite controversy in your time at Columbia?

MEALAC/Ahmadenijad/Nadia Abu al-Hajj’s tenure battle/the SIPA graffiti/Horowitz’s two visits/Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week/half the things the Republicans did/Joel Klein, I guess/etc. I think that was every Muslim student’s favorite controversy.

What memory best exemplifies your college experience?

That’s kind of tough. I have lots of really circular, serendipitous stories that embody recurring themes from these past four years, namely, late nights, good people, new experiences, and especially happy accidents.

The flip side to that would be all those awkward times I’ve had to explain why I wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing (“I don’t drink/No, I’m actually not Dominican or South Asian or Ethiopian/I go to Barnard.”) People make lots of assumptions.

Which prof do you think would be the best kisser?

You know, Khalidi’s wife seems pretty happy despite all the heat that couple takes. I think that speaks pretty well in his favor.

Days on Campus memory?

Over the course of one rainy weekend, I fell in love with Barnard, accepted my spot, and canceled the rest of my college visits. I think the deciding factor was the thought that attending college at an old school in New York would be like a mix between some urban summer camp and a happy boarding school, neither of which I had ever attended. That’s probably why I was wrong (though the Quad does feel like a summer camp at times). 


Sure. I wish I had visited home at least twice a year, been less timid, actually mastered Arabic (I wish!), trusted myself to learn a lot of things sooner, and let more people know how wonderful they are. But I can appreciate that some lessons take longer to learn, and in the end I’m simply blessed to have met and loved so many inspiring people. Thanks for a  bright future of being impressive by association.

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  1. WE LOVE  


  2. Reim  

    is the most amazing person at Columbia, hands down.

  3. Mark  

    Reim is an incredible, brilliant, amazing human being. You don't need me to tell you this, because you have just read the proof.

  4. SEV

    REIM!!! where have you been all my life...! Let's go build cities and live carbon neutrally together!

  5. Barnard  

    Let's get the Senior Wisdom of some more awesome Barnard Seniors! What about Laura Stoffel, Remi Coker, or Jane Khodarkovsky?

  6. she is  

    my favorite person ever

  7. Anonymous  

    Wow, she seems great.

    I'd like to read a Senior Wisdom by Poonam Pai. If only because I saw the Non Seq performance, and she seemed pretty remarkable (and what a name!). Actually, they all did. Seeing an a capella performance at Yale convinced me the whole thing sucked. Non Seq changed my mind.

  8. OMG  

    2008, Reim is your most graceful, beautiful senior! if you never got to know her you've missed out

    Bwog, how did I ever doubt you! i never would've expected her interview

    Reim, khalidi is probably a terrible, sloppy kisser! mona probably cheats on him

  9. Yay!  

    Reim is such a kind soul.

    How about Norman Washington?

  10. so amazing  

    Reim is the most amazing person I know on this campus. How is it possible that she won't be around next year?
    Reim-you're amazing and please know that.

  11. reim admirer  

    I, like the rest of columbia, LOVE reim. She is smart, talented, and kind. a TRIFECTA!

  12. Idea  

    How about for next year, Bwog takes nominations for Senior Wisdoms a little while in advance, and then runs lots and lots of them?

  13. the best

    Reim is the best! There could not be a kinder more considerate person in the world.

  14. hellloooooo  

    oral sex or cheese, bitch?!

  15. Barnard

    Other Barnard All-Starts:
    Amanda Rook
    Laurie Rabinowitz
    Shirley Torho

  16. abby now  

    ABBY BROBERG on senior wisdom!!! pleaseeeeeeeee

  17. I agree  


  18. I love Reim

    Reim is the best- a wonderful person and a wonderful friend- consider yourself lucky to know her. Barnard will be missing a great person after this year.

  19. can I be  

    a barnard all-start too?

  20. Anonymous

    Salaams R,

    how could you possibly forget Finkelstein?

    much love,


  21. reim  

    is so cool and awesome.

  22. who  

    the hell is this girl. what has she done besides smile and not drink?

  23. reim is amazing  

    love her!

  24. Anonymous  


  25. CC08  


  26. Reim=amazing  

    REIM I

  27. reim!!

    Reim was my RA, i love her!

    Though she deserves no negativity, i am amazed that there are only positive bwog comments up here. Reim should write a guide to being universally loved in the most snarky circumstances.

  28. big fan  

    knowing reim for 4 years now, i am continuously impressed with this woman. she's intelligent, always well reasoned, and probably one of the most well-intentioned people i have met here. she's one of those people that honestly restores your faith in humanity.

  29. confused  

    what's with the majority of seniors having no jobs lined up?

  30. big fan

    Love, love, love Reim...Columbia is the better for having had her. Good choice, BWOG!

    Now to get Christien Tompkins.

  31. Yes!  

    I want Christien Tompkins! When do we get Christien???

  32. Of Course!

    The next one has to be Poonam. 'Tis a brilliant idea.

  33. Anonymous

    the people want avorn!

  34. now!  

    liz grefath, senior wisdom, now!

  35. Raquel  

    Sakib...I agree. No Finklestein, what's up with that? I'm blessed to have known you. Peace and Blessings!

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