Apr

26

Senior Wisdom: Will Brown

Written by

Will Brown

Here’s Will Brown, a Bwog veteran.  To make your nominations, just click here.

Name, Hometown, School: Will Haldean Brown. Antwerp, Belgium. Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Computer Science

Claim to Fame: I’ve done props, lights, set, sound or makeup for around 50 shows at Columbia. I’ve TAed about half the rising sophomores and juniors in CS. I’ve built a robotic helicopter and a 3D printer. I’m making pretty pictures for Senior Week. I run about on jumping stilts. I stage managed Maker Faire. I, uh, yeah.

Where are you going? Sydney, Australia! I’ll be working as a software engineer at Google. Fun fact: Sydney is only 2500 miles away from the antipode of New York City, the farthest point on Earth from where I now sit, writing this email.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. Hard work is satisfying, but only if you get something out of it other than bragging/complaining rights
  2. Having a roommate is great, especially once you get into upperclassman dorms. Seriously, living in Woodbridge with a roommate is like having a real big-boy grownup apartment with a kitchen and a bathroom and stuff, and the only downside is that you have to live with someone who will do 50% of the dishes — sometimes more (thanks Andy!) and sometimes less (you know who you are Lila).
  3. There is no shame in having nothing to do. You are not better for getting no sleep, and you are not cooler for having more work. Enjoy yourself.

“Back in my day…” The restaurants were exactly the same but had different names, and the questions on Senior Wisdoms were awfully similar to these ones. Also apparently that was three years ago? I dunno.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I once talked to a New York Times reporter for 15 minutes in a last-ditch attempt to make us look like we like each other.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories?  There was never a war on fun. I’ve worked as a Lerner Tech for three years, and in my time there I’ve learned that there’s always a reason someone’s asking you to get off the stage, or to please quiet down, or that you only have the space booked until midnight and I’m going to have to turn off your party lights now. A lot of people at this institution have been burned by letting students get away with things, so now they’re playing it safe, and I don’t think anyone should hold it against them; were I in their position, I’d do the same.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Oral sex. Next question.

Advice for the class of 2016? 

  • Build things. Doesn’t matter if it’s out of wood or metal or code or beads or papers and pens or whatever, but try to make stuff.
  • Do things outside your comfort zone. I had a tiny bit of experience working in technical theater before I came, and then freshman year I thought “what the hell, I’ll sign up to do lights for Varsity Show”. Apparently they were strapped for people, because they took me on, and I learned so much in the mildly painful 3 months that followed.
  • Don’t do Varsity Show. It’s not fun.
  • I know everyone advises the opposite of this, but be careful about overextending. There’s nothing worse than having to choose between letting down your peers and letting down your professors. Ease into things — start by making commitments to one thing your first semester, and if that goes well, do an extra thing next semester. Continue adding until it feels like it’s getting difficult, then take one out.
  • Speaking of peers and professors, make some of your professors your peers. Being a TA is, in my experience, the best way to do this–if you work hard and are friendly, they’ll be friendly back, and it’s great. You’ll learn a ton and maybe get some free coffee out of it.
  • Our computer science department is awesome. Seriously. The professors took us all out to fancy Italian dinner. Seriously.

Regrets? Sure, some, but nothing I’d do differently. At least not significantly. Maybe I’d go back to January and tell myself to stop slacking off in Chem Lab, because I wish I could slack off now. Also I’d have skipped fewer PE classes so I could sleep in tomorrow.

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25 Comments

  1. Lulz  

    "A lot of people at this institution have been burned by letting students get away with things, so now they’re playing it safe, and I don’t think anyone should hold it against them; were I in their position, I’d do the same."

    It's a unique Senior Wisdom when someone defends Columbia's contemptuous treatment of its students. Nice one!

  2. Anonymous  

    I'm one of those CS kids. Will is quite possibly the best CS TA I've ever had -- always friendly, always helpful and really makes an effort to help you understand. I take this advice to heart just as I take his advice on Turing Machine reductions to heart.

  3. Undersecretary of the Will Fan Club  

    Yay Will! You're awesome!

  4. Best Answer...

    to the "War on Fun" question...ever! I love Will! He is mature and honest. I think it's time we put this question to bed, Bwog.

  5. Anonymous  

    Loved this one -- he sounds like a cool guy. I especially liked this: "There is no shame in having nothing to do. You are not better for getting no sleep, and you are not cooler for having more work. Enjoy yourself." Woorrrrddddd.

  6. Anonymous

    Are there any senior wisdoms from WOMEN this year?

  7. "Don’t do Varsity Show. It’s not fun."  

    Ok

  8. Anonymous

    will is great, but DO the varsity show. it isn't always fun, but it's mostly fun, and it will greatly shape your experience in columbia in the best way.

    • I  

      think Will was actually saying "don't do the 115th Annual Varsity Show," seeing as that's the only one he's done.

      There's a different team of people working on it every year, and just because one group wasn't fun, doesn't mean they all aren't.

  9. The Student Theatre Community  

    We love you and will miss you.

  10. OMG:  

    Will Brown is literally one of the coolest people I've ever met. He's competent, kind, and doesn't take shit from anyone. You go, Will Brown.

  11. anon

    Will is an awesome TA!

  12. Anonymous  

    Will Brown is literally my savior. You're a joy to have in the theater.

  13. Anonymous  

    the times article that Will is referring to is the http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/nyregion/with-obama-to-speak-at-barnard-strong-emotions-at-columbia.html?_r=3" rel="nofollow">obama at barnard one.

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