Professor Interviews: David O’Connell

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TAs are people professors educators, too. Sophomore Scrutineers Clava Brodsky and Raph Debenedetti sat down with gold-nuggeted  PoliSci grad student David O’Connell to find out, well, why. If there’s a professor (grad students and TAs included) that you’re dying for us to ask nosey questions to, send us an email at [email protected]

Bwog: Can you tell us a bit about TA life? How long have you been TAing? What’s the best part of the job?

David: I’ve TAed for four years and seven times for “Introduction to American Politics.” My favorite part of the job is seeing students grow—to see them developing intellectual and writing skills.

Bwog: Recently, the humanities and social sciences have taken a lot of heat at the expense of the hard sciences. Can you tell us why students should study political science (and American politics in particular)?

David: Studying American politics is useful because it helps gain understanding of how the real world works. When you’re frustrated with what Congress is or is not doing, we offer helpful understanding about the exercise of power. Furthermore, you’ll learn how to write in a clear and efficient manner.

Bwog:  Any advice for students or for TAs?

David: For students—take a reasonable number of classes so that you can actually focus on the material and learn from it. Try not to engage in a competitive stress-game. Decide to enjoy your time here- Columbia is a special place and you only get to experience it once. For TAs—be a professional, look presentable and take the job seriously! Go above minimal expectations—have review session and extra office hours before the exam. And don’t even view your TA responsibilities as a burden or as a distraction—every TA is lucky to have this incredible opportunity.

Bwog: Any great college memories?

David: I’d say that my favorite college memory comes from the spring of my last year at Penn.  A good friend and I cut our econ classes for the day and went to the Phillies home opener instead.  It was a beautiful day, uncommonly warm for April, and an exciting game.  I had not one, but two Geno’s cheesesteaks.  I was well aware that life was going to be changing for us pretty soon so I appreciated the experience even more because of that.

Bwog: Secret talents?

David: As a child, I could do a pretty good Cher imitation, but I’m really not sure why.

David O’Connell via columbia.edu

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  1. Anonymous  

    I LOVE DAVID O'CONNELL!! i'm surprised he didn't mention his love for disney world and the miami dolphins (he mentions them quite frequently in class). but really--he is an amazing TA. gold nugget is well deserved.

  2. Anonymous  

    I LOVE DAVID! Wish he would stay even longer!

  3. David O' Connell is  

    the best of TAs.

  4. A gentleman and a scholar  

    David was hands down the best TA I had here. Reasonable, nice, passionate, interesting-- he had all the qualities that a student wants in a TA and a friend. I don't think he's going to be a TA after this semester, but if you can find a way to be a part of his class or at least hear what he has to say: DO IT. He devotes so much time and effort to his students (a six hour office hours before every exam!!). He even brought us Crumbs cupcakes for class (he always brings food). That alone is enough to make him a cut above the rest. I'm sure I'm going to one of the many raving reviews of David in the comment section. He deserves every bit of praise.

  5. Anonymous  

    such a shame that he is not TA-ing after this semester. He is the best TA I've ever had in columbia

  6. Truth  

    Why can't all TA's be this professional and cool? David seems like the idea TA and will make a great professor where ever he goes!

  7. Anonymous

    His advice for students and TAs is great. Never met him but he seems like a really cool, genuine guy. I wish more professors were like this.


    he is legitimately the best TA i've ever had, and better than many professors. he makes an effort to get to know all of his students and really help them grow. he will definitely exceed in whatever he decides to do in the future.


    Nicest guy in the world! Columbia is incredibly stupid to let this guy go.
    Although he's a Dolphins fan which kinda sucks for him..

  10. Anonymous  

    he's kinda dreamy... i get lost in his eyes and his beautiful smile

  11. ...  

    i've yet to find another institution where minimum courseload to graduate on time is 5 per term. it's really interesting considering that there's pretty much a torrent of research that supports the idea that humans perform at their worst when multitasking...

  12. Sam the Eagle

    DJO is the best TA ever.

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