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Senior Wisdom: Peter Wallerson

Next up, Don Cheadle Peter Wallerson. Nomination form here.

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Peter Wallerson, Brooklyn NY, SEAS Biomedical Engineering

Claim to Fame: Hotel Rwanda, Crash, Ocean’s Eleven, Brooklyn’s Finest, most recently House of Lies…

But really though, the other day I went to see Seminar on Broadway (got Alan Rickman’s autograph and it was awesome, but I digress). I was waiting outside with the CEAA NY group to see him, and this woman is standing next to me and she says: “…Mister Cheadle?” Now, after years of people saying every possible iteration of “hey, you look like Don Cheadle,” this couldn’t really be happening right? Maybe I’m just hearing things. Then she tapped me on the shoulder and asked again.

Where are you going? Dreaded question number one. Well, still looking for a job I suppose. I have some interviews lined up but we’ll see. And if I don’t get a job, oh darn I have to stay in New York City.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  • Don’t let school get in the way of your learning. There’s so much opportunity here, and there’s always time to do something new. There are so many ways to develop yourself that school simply doesn’t provide, and kind of gets in the way of. Pick up a language, learn a new instrument, join a few clubs! Do you really want to leave here with nothing to show for it but a degree?
  • When confronted with the opportunity to do something awesome, ask yourself “why not?” Too many people pigeon-hole themselves into one way of thinking, and are afraid to deviate from that, and are afraid to take a leap out of their comfort zone every once in a while. It’s very boring, if you ask me. To quote the wisest teacher of them all: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” – Ms. Frizzle.
  • Always be open to meeting new people. No matter where you are in life. No matter what you think the other person may be like. You never know where or when you’ll meet someone that’s going to be your lifelong friend.

“Back in my day…” There were 151 Pokemon, and that was enough (now they’re at 649, can you believe it?) Campo was Campo, Pinnacle was Pinnacle. NoCo wasn’t even a thing. And of course, back in my day Gateway was an absolutely useless course.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less: Tough question. My life is all about improving the happiness and lives of others; it’s why I’m doing biomedical engineering. So far so good if I do say so myself.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? Yeah I think I missed the War on Fun. I mean, rooftops and tunnels are still very accessible. There are so many events on campus that are always fun. And people do their own thing all the time and there’s no harm done unless people get absolutely trashed and CAVA gets called, in which case how can Columbia not respond? I don’t think the War on Fun is real; I’ve had a fantastic time here.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Well I mean, there are other types of sex. But cheese is cheese, I could never.

Advice for the class of 2016: 

  • You have four years to be an undergraduate in the greatest city in the world.
  • See the city if you haven’t. Explore it if you think you have.
  • Free food and free t-shirts are two of the most valuable things you’ll encounter here. Take advantage of them whenever you can.
  • You don’t have to make all of your friends during NSOP. I remember before I got here, people were like “make friends during orientation or it’ll be impossible.” While it’s true that I made some truly awesome friends during NSOP that I’m lucky enough to still see pretty much all day every day, I also made some friends by way of Hartley 2A a full year later that make me wonder how I ever existed at Columbia without them. So if orientation’s over and you haven’t quite found your bestie yet, it’ll happen.
  • It’ll get done. Really, it’ll get done. You’re going to have a lot of work to do. But there’s also a lot of fun to be had. So you hang out with your friends and have to stay up late doing homework the next night. Do it. I wouldn’t take back the time I’ve spent with my friends for anything, especially for more time to do schoolwork.

Any regrets? Yeah, no. I don’t do regrets. There are things we’ve done that we probably shouldn’t have. There are things we haven’t done that we probably should have. I don’t regret either of them; they’re both essential to who I am. Lessons learned, right?

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  • maebe funke says:

    @maebe funke MARRY ME!

    (but actually, meet me at the sundial after the CC class dinner tomorrow night)

  • Not done reading article, says:

    @Not done reading article, but I saw Ms. Frizzle and I knew this was a winner.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Do people really say you have to make friends during NSOP? All I did during NSOP was get drunk and I ended up with plenty of friends (none of whom I met during NSOP)

    1. That's what I thought says:

      @That's what I thought but then again…

      maybe I did meet them during NSOP?
      (Twist courtesy of M. Night. Shyamalmadingdong)

  • Gateway says:

    @Gateway is still an absolutely useless course

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Yeah Peter!

  • Written from Butler says:

    @Written from Butler IT’LL GET DONE. IT’LL ALWAYS GET DONE. (even if you’re reading Peter’s senior wisdom rather than writing your essay… what?)

    But for real, Peter is the greatest. It’ll Get Done is my motto for life.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous This is my favorite one so far :) Very well written in an entirely non-pretentious way, and it’s so nice to hear a positive attitude every so often…

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous This is my favorite Senior Wisdom so far as well! I agree.

  • Dear Peter, says:

    @Dear Peter, I break my no-comment policy to say that you win at life. Thank you for being my friend and always reminding me that it’ll get done, so I might as well just throw up my hands and chill with the gang.

    1. seconded--with a gif binge says:

      @seconded--with a gif binge where “it will get done” has gotten me:

      from the first inebriated viewing of the lion king to everything since (, thanks for making my time at columbia awesomely unusual and memorable.

  • Q says:


  • S says:

    @S I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again: Peter is legitimately the coolest guy you will ever meet (+ his suitemates. +Ray). Cooks like a pro, dresses like a boss, and is the absolute nicest guy you will ever meet. He’ll help you tape up christmas lights in your suite, let you borrow his cooking utensils (and ingredients), come to your parties and laugh at your jokes even if theyre stupid.

    I’m so glad I met you Peter! I only regret not knowing you (all of you) sooner, but here’s to the countless memories of Mafia and samosas we’ve heaped these past few months :)

    You guys need to get the rest of the brosuite.

  • IT'S ME says:

    @IT'S ME dear peter,

    in my four years of knowing you, i never once thought of a don cheadle double. now i’ll never be able to look at you without thinking of him.

    you were one of my first friends at columbia. my deepest wishes and gratitude are for you.

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