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From the Issue: Erik Nook

Be on the lookout for the February issue of The Blue & White, on campus now! Bwog will again honor our heritage/amorous affair with our mother magazine by posting features from the upcoming issue. Such treats include the first part of a discussion on the Columbia School, an investigation into Columbia’s animal testing practices, and a talk about, well, self-pleasure. Here, Carolyn Ruvkun introduces you to someone whom you may not know—but should.

Illustration by Maddy Kloss, CC '12

“I want to perpetuate good feelings,” exclaims Erik Nook. A certified massage therapist, bartender, ballroom dancer, cheesecake baker, scarf knitter, and classical saxophonist, the Columbia College senior radiates happiness. “Or I could just be crafting myself into the perfect wedding planner,” he jokes.

Born into a “family of healers”—his dad is a chiropractor and his mom is a veterinarian—Nook grew up in an 800-person town in Iowa, where, he recalls, “everyone was white, Christian and straight.” His father’s job sent the Nooks to Kloof, South Africa, and Perth, Australia; their itinerant lifestyle resulted in the “Nookism,” “Hey, we’ve been there!”

Nook speaks reverently of his parents, who promote the self-care and balance he treasures. After getting his requisite eight hours of sleep, Nook wakes up to family photos and inspirational quotes decorating his dorm room walls. He upholds the maxim “life is good.”

But you often affirm an idea once you have been forced to challenge it. “The mantra came from my coming out experience,” Nook explains. After graduating from an Australian high school in November 2006, he decided to take a gap year. “I had this compulsion to rework my understanding of the universe,” Nook recalls. He spent the year reconciling his “previous me and present me” before realizing that, “you can nuance any identity to make it exactly what you want.”

“I take balance and wellness very seriously,” the compassionate confidant continues. He credits psychology and philosophy, his eventual major and concentration, with helping him reach this understanding: “if I can’t heal myself how can I heal other people?” Nook’s friend, Hannah D’Apice, CC ’12, marvels, “I think he has done really great things to improve the wellness on campus before this whole wellness movement even started.” A Peer Educator in the Sexual Violence Response Program and coordinator of Stressbusters, Nook remembers prepping for the dog-therapy study break last semester as a favorite Columbia moment. After receiving one of Nook’s massages—complete with his signature move, the Russian effleurage—one girl felt so relaxed she curled on the floor and fell asleep. “I took that as a compliment.”

“I try to cultivate gratitude in my own life,” he adds. Until pressed, Nook does not even mention his induction into Phi Beta Kappa academic honors society or membership in the psychology honors program. “He gets very bashful when others praise him,” says D’Apice. But Nook would argue that external forces are enabling him to achieve because “there is no ‘I’ doing anything.” Instead he reasons, “there’s the energy that has come to me through my parents, the things that I have learned, and the experiences that have allowed me to do stuff, and stuff has been done!” Personal success is the product of “something greater that is interested in things going well […] That makes the world much less scary,” he laughs.

A conversation with Nook leaves you feeling full. After reflecting questions back on this reporter, he listens actively, gesticulating emphatically and responding with understanding “mmhmms” in his characteristic slow soothing tone. “It just makes me feel good to spend time with someone, and leave with both people feeling positive.”

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  • an awful person says:

    @an awful person who is THIS wholesome and good?

    bonus awfulness: I’ve taken a story about someone who’s clearly wonderful and reframed it around myself.

    1. an awful person says:

      @an awful person clarification: Mr. Nook is clearly a WONDERFUL person. the “awful” referred to myself, the commenter.

      1. ? says:

        @? get outta here

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous he seems saccharine

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous he is

          1. and so what!? says:

            @and so what!? we need a little sweetness ’round here

      3. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous M, is that you?

        I miss you

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous four for you, Erik Nook!!! you go, Erik Nook!!!!!!


    @ERIC FUCKING NOOK You are one of the most spectacular people I have had the pleasure to meet here at Columbia. I will tell you this in person, too, but this is the digital equivalent of shouting it from many Columbia rooftops. So.


    1. ERIK says:

      @ERIK 15 hours of sleep in the past days. Forgive.

    2. SECONDED says:

      @SECONDED Erik is probably the most genuinely kind and positive people I have met while at Columbia! SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS MAN

  • All I can say says:

    @All I can say In the few times I have interacted with Mr. Nook, he seemed very nice.

  • I don't know you, Nook says:

    @I don't know you, Nook But reading this made me feel a bit better about where my life is right now.

    A Fellow Product of External Forces Who Has Resolved to Work Both in Collaboration with and in Spite of Those Forces to Become a Happier, Healthier, More Hopeful Me.

  • Erik says:

    @Erik is really pretty. Dancing does great things for the butt. Just sayin’

  • Straight Guy says:

    @Straight Guy Is he gay? he looks one….

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous yeah he’s pretty flamboyant. nice guy, nonetheless.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous “nonetheless”? how kind of you to like him in spite of his sexuality.

        1. A gay guy says:

          @A gay guy To be fair, flamboyant and bitchy tend to go together, especially around here.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Yay Erik!

  • i love this says:

    @i love this campus character, Erik…..I also think the writer is pretty fab too.
    love from a friend of both

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I feel warm and fuzzy inside after reading this.

  • ERIK NOOK. says:

    @ERIK NOOK. You will not find another one like this man in your four years at Columbia. Takes on the craziest workload, lives life passionately, and still finds time to be the nicest most hospitable guy on campus.

    Also, if you haven’t gotten a back rub from him yet… what are you doing?

  • ERIK NOOK says:


  • Erik Nook says:

    @Erik Nook aka the sexiest wildebeest to roam Columbia’s campus. Also, the nicest guy ever :)

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous spent an entire summer working with Mr. Nook….the guy radiates happiness. It’s actually really ridiculous.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous He gives off the same impression as a person as that joking “the most emailed new York times article ever.”

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Really an incredible leader and so compassionate to everyone he meets. Yay Erik!!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous GO MADDY!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous ERIK NOOK I LOVE YOU!!!

    Best Stressbusters Coordinator EVER.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous nothing but love and admiration for Erik. hes the best.

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