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From the Issue: Brandon Thompson

Keep your eyes open for the October issue of The Blue & White, which, after a delay from the printers, has finally arrived to campus! In the meantime, Bwog will honor our heritage/amorous affair with our mother magazine by posting highlights of the upcoming issue online. Among the treats to look forward to: Knickerbocker Motorsports: a surprisingly gripping history, an examination of Columbia’s updated sexual assault policy, and the festive search for magic on campusIn Campus Characters, the Blue & White introduces you to a handful of Columbians who are up to interesting and extraordinary things and whose stories beg to be shared. In the current issue, staff writer Sam Herzog profiles the ever energetic Brandon Thompson, CC’12. 

A boss.

Illustration by Maddy Kloss

Brandon Thompson, CC ’12, has a credo. “Senior year: get yours.” But everyone who knows him will tell you that Brandon has always “gotten his.” He’ll make anyone self-conscious about their resume.

“There are very few people in this world that don’t need to sleep,” laughs friend and suite-mate Alexa Goldson, CC’12, “and Brandon is one of them.”

That’s helpful, then, because Thompson’s extracurricular engagements leave little time for rest—let alone a quick nap. He juggles his positions as Undergraduate Recruitment Committee Co-Chair, Vice-Chair of the CC 2012 Senior Fund, and Campus Campaign Coordinator for Teach for America (a position he’s held for three years). He plays varsity squash, researches for history professor and race, identity, and resistance specialist Natasha Lightfoot’s new book, and is involved with the CU Bach Society. In the spring, he will turn in two theses for his double major in American History and Hispanic Studies. It is rumored that he has a key to Low.

As Meredith Kirk, CC’12, puts it, “I’ve never known anyone so dedicated to his work.”

And while he’s invested in his work, he’s equally eager to find the next generation of Columbians—working with the URC, he genuinely enjoys showcasing dear Alma for fresh-faced high-schoolers. He’d probably be able to tell you why you said you wanted to come to Columbia. “It’s actually kind of sad, now that I’m Co-Chair,” he bemoans, “I don’t really get to give tours anymore.”

When celebrities stumble onto campus, though, Admissions calls in the big guns. And you can be sure that when Thompson leads a tour he gives Butler just a little extra love. It is currently, after all, his primary residence.

“All the janitors and staff know my name,” he comments. With the way Raj at Butler Cafe smiles at him and says “a tea for Brandon,” it’s clear that he always has a spot in 310 waiting for him. You will be leaving long before he does.

That poorly lit palace of self-loathing for most students is where Brandon feels most at home. There’s nothing he loves to talk about more, except maybe Rihanna’s new music video. “California King Bed” is his top played song on iTunes, but to his surprise. “Honestly, I thought it would be ‘S&M,’” he muses.

His history with the library goes back to what he calls his pitiful freshman year. “I honestly didn’t know what I was doing,” he reminisces. “For the first few weeks I actually went to 209 every day.” It wasn’t until his first spring that he discovered the fifth floor, which he claims determined his academic destiny. Spending time in 502 and 503, the American History and Literature and Latin American Studies reading rooms, proved providential.

“I thought it was so cool that my interests were right next to each other. That’s how I picked my academic career here. My relationship with Butler has just shaped my education.”

Brandon Thompson is undoubtedly determined (especially in reserving spots in the library), but his accomplishments, academics, and daunting schedule are not what define him in the eyes of his friends and peers.

“Let’s talk about his interpersonal qualities for a minute,” Goldson beams. “He’s a really good listener, a great friend, he remembers everything you tell him, and he’s a really good body-roller.” He leaves nothing out, she continues: “Brandon does everything that he wants to do, never sacrifices anything for any reason whether it be to sleep or to party. He can do it all.”

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous by any means necessary.

  • Impressed says:

    @Impressed Am now on a mission to see this man’s GCal.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous i heard he uses outlook!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Dear Bwog,
    I am sure that Brandon is a perfectly nice and genuine person, but by elating people who “get no sleep” you are directly contributing to the unhealthy campus culture of perfectionism and never-enoughism that are at the root of so many people’s unhappiness here. You should instead tell our community that you don’t need to fill your resume to the brim to matter and that all you need to do to make your time here worthwhile is pour your heart into a project (or two) that you find truly meaningful and make the time to be a good friend.

    1. Very true. says:

      @Very true. Until it comes time to think about post-college life.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous No. Even when it comes to post-college life, it is better to do a few things that you are truly passionate about then to have a lot of things to put on your resume. Many of us have goals that aren’t directly tied to earning potential, like teaching, writing or being entrepreneurs. That is what makes Columbia great.

        I am not saying that Brandon doesn’t care about the things he does, I do not know him and I choose to assume he is passionate about his activities. I am merely saying that Bwog (and the Columbia community) should praise him for his passion and devotion to his activities, not for the sheer number of them on his schedule or the how little time he devotes to sleeping. That is unhealthy and is not fair to the great diversity of our community.

        1. I fear says:

          @I fear that you’ve missed the point of the article. Brandon isn’t being praised or missing out on sleep because of the sheer number of his activities. Rather, it sounds like he’s so deeply involved in several things that he doesn’t have much time for himself; if he were involved with a number of different activities superficially, he’d have time. Thus Bwog is highlighting his serious commitment to these various groups, and not just his membership.

          More generally, if people are consumed by “perfectionism and never-enoughism,” then that’s something they need to handle for themselves. As a mature individual, I’ve accepted the fact that, no matter how much I do or how hard I work, there will always be situations where another person is better prepared. Such is life, no? University is as good a place to learn this as anywhere.

          1. Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous I mean to say that not having time for yourself should not be a point of pride.

            I also think you are incorrect in thinking that people should handle unhealthy university standards by themselves. I think we should talk the pressure that we impose on each other to be the best of the best so that we can actively fight against it. If you do not feel this pressure, then I commend you for it and I hope that you will take the time to share with other people how you manage to keep a cool head. If students (particularly underclassmen) realized that they are not alone maybe the rate of depression on this campus would dip ever so slightly.

    2. truth says:

      @truth why can’t we like this comment bwog?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous also, look out for his tramp stamp!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Every single one of these Blue & White profiles has made its subject look like a complete douche…which may be true, but then do we really need to know? This segment needs to be put to rest already.

  • But wait says:

    @But wait What’s a body-roller? I’ve only heard about the foam kind…

  • two things says:

    @two things first, while the comment thread above is desperately needed (we do need to change our campus culture) i feel like this story is not necessarily the place to do it. how much of bwog content is about libraries and how stressed we all are? i’ve definitely felt shame for being unable to relate to that. on the other hand, brandon is someone who is doing what he wants to do, how he wants to do it. we should be able to appreciate our peers achievements without making them the standard. brandon is unique, that’s why we appreciate him.

    secondly, i know Brandon casually and wow, i had no idea about almost any of this (his 2 theses being the exception). you can add humility to the list, he’s got it in spades, wow.

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