Senior Wisdom: Brendan Hannon

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Name, School: Brendan Hannon, Columbia College

Claim to Fame: I’ve been a freshman RA for three years, so I have close friends in every class. I’m a steps hippie; you’ve probably seen me on the steps playing music with some of my friends when the weather warm, or just bundled up mid-winter trying to generate some vitamin-D.

Where are you going? Right now, the plan is to go out west to visit some friends in New Mexico and Colorado. If I find a job out there, who knows, I might stay. Otherwise, I’ll end up working my way back east and I’ll try to get an entry level job as a geologist. Really though, there’s too much of America, not to mention the world, that I haven’t seen yet. I don’t know where I’ll be exactly, but to quote Calvin, “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy… Let’s go exploring.”

Three things you learned at Columbia:

1. The Sophomore Slump does exist. The cure is to find something you love studying and the people with whom you can do what you love. It’s not an easy cure, but it’s doable.

2. People are interested in things that are not just boring to you, but seem to be absurd wastes of times. Then you realize what you’re interested in is mind numbingly boring to them. I learned how to respect them, but not before telling my CC professor why I wasn’t interested in comparative literature and listing off the things I would rather do at our class dinner after (at least) one too many beers. Man, I wish I learned that earlier.

3. “Your life has a limit but knowledge has none. If you use what is limited to pursue what is infinite, you are in danger.” – Zhuangzi. I first read that in Professor de Bary’s Colloquium on major Asian texts, and it’s really resonated with me. Four years here has taught me that I can’t try to learn everything, but if I learn a few things I enjoy well, I’ll be happy.

“Back in my day…” the Manhattanville Campus expansion wasn’t a sure thing, and NoCo wasn’t a thing. Instead of bedbugs in John Jay, we had baby mice. The roof of SIPA was a great place to go with a friend and bring a growler. Then people started leaving piles of empty bottles up there, so The Man locked it up. I’m not bitter. No, I am.

Justify your existence in thirty words or fewer: I’ve found friends and activities that make me deeply and genuinely happy. I try to be the sort of friend who will make you happy, too.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? As long as Columbia students will try to have fun (always, I think) and the Columbia bureaucracy will try to cover its liabilities (always, I know), there will be a War on Fun led by The Man. I have an interesting perspective on this as an RA. I can say this: there is no overt war on fun from Res Life. The Man is not that obvious.

The Man’s workings are subtle, but here’s what I’ve noticed. There are Agents of The Man. I’ve met them, I’ve shaken their hands, and I’ve played their stupid ice breakers. These Agents of The Man claim to love fun, but they love a debased, diluted version of fun. The Agents’ role is to bring those people who enjoy less diluted fun to The Man’s attention. Then, it gets frightening. See, though The Man lives inside the bureaucracy, a lot of the people who run the bureaucracy are wonderful people who really do love the good, pure fun, but somehow, The Man works his will through them. Terrifying.

Personally, as an RA, I’ve always tried not to bring The Man’s attention down on anyone. And if you were wondering, yes, I’ve received my scars from the War on Fun. I won’t go into any depth, but let’s just say one Slip’n’ Slide party ended too soon.

The bottom line is I’ve had fun all of my four years. If your fun doesn’t hurt or bother people, chances are, it will never be brought to The Man’s attention.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I struggled searching for an answer that didn’t seem insincere or perverted until I realized that giving up cheese would mean no more Spicy Specials, ever.

Advice for the Class of 2015:

Every now and then, take some time and make two lists. On the first, list your top priorities. On the second, list the things you spend the most time on. They should match pretty closely; if they don’t, figure out which one needs to change, and start working on that. It might make you happier.

You have four years at an amazing university, and you can determine what you make of it. Look around as much as it takes to find the things that bring you joy and make you feel productive. If you haven’t found something that you love by the time you leave here, then either you didn’t look hard enough and I’m sorry for you, or you’re really hard to please and I wish you luck.

Do those crazy things you want to do deep down. Just maybe not the ones Freud claims you want to do. Not that deep.

Take vitamin-D supplements in the winter. They’re more important than you think.

Any regrets? I wish I had got back into music earlier than I did. I wish I had taken a photography class and the diving phys ed. On the flip side, I’m glad I know what I missed out on, and life doesn’t end after college, so there’s time yet!

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  1. Hooah  

    This is really great.

  2. troll  

    too long, did not read

  3. BC11

    This senior wisdom read very much like mine would have if Bwog had asked me to write one. I think that means we need to go out for coffee.

  4. Anonymous

    is this the nordic looking guy who always has his shirt off?

  5. Anonymous


  6. couldn't you have just

    ordered the spicy special sans cheese?

  7. denis the menace  

    is actually a very wise man.

  8. This is ridiculous...

    Why are some of these Columbia kids going absolutely no-fucking-where in life?

    My brother who applied with me back in HS had 800V, 800M, 710W SATs, played in a rock band, was named a winner of a Siemens science competition, was our HS soccer team's co-captain, graduated 4th in our class, was a well known comedian in Philly's bars, and the list goes on and on and on and he would have LOVED to have carried on Columbia's world-renowned research prestige with his science ambitions but even he WAS REJECTED.

    and then i see that most of these senior wisdom kids are either going back to live with mommy and daddy or doing something shitty or just gonna spend their lives chilling aorund the city.

    what the fuck, seriously.


    • This is ridiculous...

      Just letting you all know, my brother eventually transferred to Yale from UPenn. He really really really wanted to come to Columbia and he would have made an awesome alum this year as he will be going on to Harvard for grad school and is now involved in an awesome green energy research project with his former prof involving solar. Would've made an awesome Senior Wisdom this year.

      Better luck next time, SEAS admissions team.

      - Pissed off CC Guy, '11

    • you are ridiculous...

      Maybe you've heard the job market is still shit, even if you have 800v, 800m, and 710w SATs. Also, I think your brother seems like an amazing kid, but if Columbia only accepted people like him the school would look and feel a lot different than it does, and I think that's a bad thing.

    • yeah right  

      "Your brother"...sure thing. Just get over it, dude. When the admissions rate is below 7%, it's almost impossible to tell who's going to get in. But I have to say, if you (or "your brother") are really this petty, narrow-minded, and judgmental, it's probably a good thing you didn't get into Columbia. I don't think you'd be happy here.

    • who the hell  

      are you? And since when did your SAT scores mean anything post high school?

    • Anonymous

      The short answer to your complaint is: Columbia does its best to admit real people and not robots. As you can see, Brendan is a real person and your brother probably didn't differentiate himself from the robotic masses. This isn't to say that your brother isn't a good guy. He probably just looks like a study-bot on paper.

      Mildly unrelated, but I had my heart set on going to a different Ivy League school. I used to live abroad so I wasn't able to visit either that school or Columbia. I applied to both and got rejected from Columbia. After visiting the other school (because my parents now live near it) and attending Columbia, I'm so glad I got rejected because I'm far too pleased to be attending Columbia. Sometimes things that seem shitty are actually what is best.

      The longer answer is:
      We have a real diverse student body here. Some people go on to do really high profile things while others pursue a different path in life. Just because Brendan has no plans to do some high profile science research, it doesn't mean that your brother would be a more worthy student at Columbia. Also, Brendan's unique disposition and approach to life may lead him to do some stuff like Kerouac.

      But more importantly, Brendan has had in invaluable impact on other students while at Columbia. In his three years as an RA on campus he has been nothing short of amazing. Whether or not he goes on to accomplish things that you deem worthy of a Columbia graduate, he has touched the lives of hundreds of students in ways that no one can fathom. The futures of those people would not be the same if it wasn't for Brendan and that's a large part of the potential that the admissions officers saw in him. It's not all about what you do after college. Sometimes being there to augment other peoples' experiences is the most important part of it.

  9. This is ridiculous...

    hey admissions,
    fucking step up your game!

    - Frustrated CC Senior who Wished His Deserving Brother Had Got In, '11

  10. Anonymous  

    Brendan you are the light of my steps life! Don't leave!

  11. as a senior  

    ... it makes me very bitter to notice that people are measuring "success" in life based on your accomplishments immediately following college. What in any way makes your "brother" a more deserving candidate than this guy who has a genuine interest in being nice to people, as well as seeing the world? Just because he isn't off to a Harvard grad program in the fall doesn't make him any less deserving of a graduate. In fact I commend him for his openness and willingness to see the world outside of the bubble of academia.

  12. Anonymous  

    this kid wrote me up..

    • Anonymous

      Brendan has never written anyone up who didn't deserve it, then was forgiven by Brendan and not written up, and then done something else to deserve being written up.

  13. anon


  14. wtf

    'Your brother' is going to hit a pretty steep mid-life crisis when he wakes up and realizes he never once fucking tried listening to what his heart truly wants. Let him run around now chasing this notion of 'success' like a pathetic rodent trapped in a rat race. Trust me, it'll hit hard.

    In the meanwhile, Brendan, I love you for quoting brotha Zhuangzi. Keep going.

  15. back to brendan...

    We love you Brendan!!! And you will be missed!!


  16. Anonymous

    Great advice on the 2 lists thing. That, truly is a way to ensure happiness!

  17. Waxima Perez

    Brendan is the man!

  18. Love

    the Zhuangzi reference. Props for getting something meaningful out of the Global Core!

  19. CUST

    will not be the same without you!! when you find yourself back in nyc, come back for a monday night at 1020!

  20. silly rabbit  

    Giving up oral sex can also mean no more spicy specials, ever, my friend.

  21. Anonymous

    we did a slip-n-slide last year in carman and didn't get caught. all it took was a bucket of water and some laundry detergent to create one of my favorite memories so far here. fun lives on!

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