And now for the final installment of Senior Wisdom, we present our beloved Bwog and Blue & White seniors: B&W managing editor and Bwog daily editor Mariela Quintana, Bwog Co-editor, editor-at-large, and daily editor Anish Bramhandkar, B&W Editor Emeritus and Bwog features and daily editor Jon Hill, and B&W senior editor Hannah Lepow. Thank you for all the wisdom you’ve given us. We’ll miss you dearly!
Claims to Fame:
Mariela: In 3rd grade, I starred in “The Freaky Mar Show” – I’d wrap up in a fleece blanket and dance in middle of the sharing rug. When I was 12, I won the Camper’s Cup at summer camp. At Columbia, I was the Managing Editor of The Blue and White. And Genghis Khan. I probably peaked in the ’90s.
Anish: Bwog Daily Editor for 3 semesters, Co-Editor for 1 semester, Editor-at-Large for 1 semester, and currently Bwog Grandpa.
Jon: I discovered Santa’s terrible secret. I also wrote those absolutely riveting editor’s notes in The Blue & White.
Hannah: Editorships! The Blue & White, Tablet, Columbia Undergraduate Journal of History
Where are you going?
Mariela: I was considering going to Phoenix to teach, but I’ve had a change of heart. Instead, I’m working at a non profit that provides early childhood education to kids living in housing projects in Brooklyn.
Anish: Manhattan is a playground for 20 to 25-year-olds. I’ll be living in the city working as a software developer.
Jon: Studying/scouting/scribbling on international economics for the Council on Foreign Relations
Hannah: D.C. for a stint in a communications firm, and then back to Columbia for law school.
Three things you learned at Columbia:
1. Don’t bury the lead. Say what you mean and say it upfront.
2. “That’s a great question” is the best compliment. The value of curiosity never depreciates.
3. Where ever you go, there you are.
1. The biggest misconception in the liberal arts is that it’s okay to be bad at math. The biggest misconception in the sciences is that it’s okay to communciate poorly. The sciences and the liberal arts, false dichotomy as it is, need each other and one can’t even begin to appreciate the world without a foot in both worlds.
2. Clichéd, yes, but Columbia’s diversity is one of its biggest assets. That being said, any time activities are divided along cultural, ethnic, or racial lines, it can be more divisive than uniting: a lot of these lines are arbitrary. Do get in touch with your roots if you’re so inclined, but make an effort to ignore the distinctions and spend time with all sorts of people.
3. There’s a lot of pent-up cynicism and bitterness on campus, exemplified by Bwog comments and v114, “Morningside Hates,” caused the disconnect between the administration and students and between the students themselves. It’s a vicious cycle that is caused by and causes our lack of school spirit. Take some time to think of happy thoughts, then get out of your room and go do things. With people. On campus.
1. Westside is the pricey good one, Morton is the pricey bad one, D’Ag is the weird one, Appletree is the disappointing one, Met is the budget one, and Trader Joe’s beats them all.
2. I never actually got far into St. Augustine’s City of God, but after living in McBain, I found it makes an excellent weight with which to trap vermin under a cup.
3. Never underestimate people. Not their intelligence, not their benevolence, not their malevolence. Otherwise, you should get used to being caught off-guard when the jock in your seminar turns out to be piercingly brilliant or when the nice guy across the hall turns out to be the nighttime kitchen thief who is digging out helpings of your lentil soup with his fingers. (That’s right, I know it was you.)
1. Moderation! True productivity isn’t dragging all of your books to Butler and pulling your hair out. A late night just talking with friends is one of the best ways to spend time.
2. The value of asking for help. It seems so hard to do sometimes, but it always pays off in dividends.
3. Opposites attract. Some of my best friends here are studying completely different things than I am, and that’s so, so wonderful.
“Back in my day…”
Mariela: There was a course called Critical Reading, Critical Writing (CRCW). I think when I took it, it was one of those optional requirements for English majors. I think there are a lot of those.
Jon: The Writers’ Strike meant I had to wait three extra months before I could find out why Jack wanted to go back to the island so badly. Then again, three years later, I’m still not sure.
Hannah: There were trays.
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer:
Mariela: Good email writer. Better rememberer. Best listener.
Anish: I’ll always hold the elevator doors for you but I might not make conversation.
Jon: I feel naked without a belt on.
Hannah: I can cook. This has justified my existence in a college setting more than I ever thought it would.
Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories?
Mariela: The war on fun will continue as long as senior week lasts three days, as long as Lerner Pub gives out beer at half hour intervals and as long as Butler is open 24/7 for the entirety of the academic semester. I went to Brown my freshman year and there the libraries close at 7 on the weekends. The university literally is telling students to stop studying and have fun. That said, get the fuck out of Butler and there’s plenty of fun to be had here.
Anish: Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? People are complaining less about it now than when it started three years ago but I think that’s just people getting used to the new rules. I’m more of a bottle-of-wine-and-dinner guy on a Friday night and less of a pack-of-Natty-Light-in-a-room-full-of-sweaty-bros kind of guy. So, I haven’t had any run-ins with the Fun Police.
BUT—we lived in Claremont my sophomore year and one night two of my suitemates were very drunk and were being loud enough that someone called the RA on them. The RA came with a Public Safety officer, and upon seeing them my suitemates ran out the window on to the fire escape and headed for the roof, Public Safety in pursuit. They managed to get back down to the street and come back in the building through the main entrance, and by the time Public Safety made it back to the suite they were both sound asleep in their beds. Plausible deniability at its best.
Jon: Until Columbia somehow manages to achieve tort immunity from parents, no, it’s not over. In the meantime, befriend an R.A. Your parties will be nearly un-bust-able if you have someone on the inside.
Hannah: I don’t know if it’s over yet, but the bed bugs will win.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?
Mariela: I really only have an appetite for cheese when I’m starving and there’s nothing else in the fridge. Not so with oral sex.
Anish: With poor hygeine, you can obtain one from the other.
Jon: Uh, do you know how cheese is made? It’s disgusting.
Hannah: I’m allergic to dairy, so I’m spared having to come up with a witty response to this question.
Advice for the class of 2015:
1.What you study in your core classes should grab you, shake you, make you cry – move you to think or feel in some new way. If you’re not getting that reaction, slow down and work through the material again. If you do that, and you’re still not getting anything out of it, switch sections. Seriously, there are plenty of lousy core professors out there, but there are plenty of amazing ones too. Don’t settle for a lousy one.
2. Take Photo I with Professor Roma.
3. Don’t get caught up by your own expectations of what freshman year should be like. You might end up hating the pre-med track. You might not find your first love immediately. You might not be as happy or successful at first as you wished. Cut yourself some slack because there really are no ‘shoulds.’ Undoubtedly it will be different. Let it be different and undoubtedly it will turn out ok.
4. Start a Toast Tuesday tradition. Half off bottles of wine with dinner every Tuesday.
5. Try not to take yourself too seriously. A little goofiness and humility goes a long way.
Anish: Always take care of yourself because no one else will do it for you. After you’ve done that, take care of your roommates, take care of your friends, and take care of your parents (they miss you!). Also, smile and wave at people you don’t know, just to make their day a little weirder.
Jon: No matter how fixed or how sure an outcome seems, you can always find an alternative. In some ways, this is a scary thing because it means nothing is ever final or permanent, but in other ways, this is actually a tremendous relief—it means change (for the better) is always possible. Trust me on this. And don’t be afraid to bend the rules to make that change happen, either. It’s the only way to beat the Kobayashi Maru.
Hannah: You’re very smart, and of course you know that. But don’t be ignorant; understand you need to learn more, and that your classmates, not just your professors, can teach you. If someone mentions something — an author, a theory, an event — that you don’t know anything about, don’t just pretend you know what they’re talking about and nod vaguely. Ask!
Mariela: Yikes. I tend to be too self-reflective, so I don’t want to overthink this one! Anyways….I appreciate the perspective going Brown my freshman year gave me. In large part, it shaped my approach to academic and social spheres of Columbia for the better. But I miss not being here for freshman year.
Anish: Saying “no” more often than saying “yes.”
Jon: Not attending more Columbia athletic events. I realized too late in the game, so to speak, that I had missed out on the impressive achievements of a good number of my classmates.
Hannah: That epic snowball fight my junior year that people still talk about? Yeah, I was in my room probably writing a paper about some problematic 20th century historical event. A friend did come by and throw a snowball at me, but I should have joined the fray.