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Senior Wisdom: Sara Lederman

Name, Hometown, School, Major: Sara Lederman, Minneapolis, MN (home of the most genuine hipsters…we wear flannel because it’s cold/we are real-life lumberjacks). Barnard, Anthropology with a minor in Religion

Claim to Fame? Purpled-nosed Reindeer with serious sinus infections in XMAS! 5; went to India twice this year (hanging out with Indian Muppets and then rural sex workers – thank you, Barnard); managing editor for Sanctum, a small religious thought publication you’ve never heard of; having the fluffiest bed at the Bayit.

Where are you going? To quote Noemi Schor: the retirement home. Really, I have no set plans, much to my mother’s chagrin. There are a few options I’m still considering: some involve Nepali street theatre, others involve working with awesome professors, and the most compelling one involves selling everything I own just to pay rent in the swanky East Village so I can sit on fire escapes and belt out show tunes into the night forever and ever.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. Kvetching gets you nowhere: The line separating “criticism” and “complaint” can be dangerously thin. Try to do something positive with your dissatisfaction. Sometimes you need to just let it all out and complain… that’s human. But people do it way too much here, including myself (as I complain about complaining on Bwog). I’ve learned that while Columbia overflows with brains, talents, ambitions, and passion, one thing it definitely lacks is positivity. People have so much to be happy about on this campus… so why do so few people smile or hold elevator doors?!
  2. “Networking” is oh so very silly: No matter what Career Services says, over the past 4 years I’ve seen how contrived “networking” can be. That’s not to diminish the importance of meeting new people and making connections, but it has to be a sincere gesture. Barnard has taught me the importance of developing and maintaining genuine relationships by simply being me — not collecting as many business cards as humanly possible while wearing an insufferably itchy polyester suit.
  3. Celebrate as much as you can: It’s ok to spend days in libraries, but only if you can counter them with days spent outside (preferably on the Highline with ice cream in hand).

“Back in my day…” Construction noises booming from the Diana was white noise. Even in Sulz. All day, every day.  And people still giggled when they said “The Vag”. Scratch that – people still said “The Vag”.

Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I finger-paint and read “Everyone Poops” on a weekly basis. My friends are superheroes. I listen to people debate about whether or not a bagel-cutter is kosher 60 minutes/week.

Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? I have not really witnessed the War on Fun, but I have witnessed the War on Meaningful and Effective Programming. I don’t know why, but I’ve found myself tangled in a few administrative webs. And that can just majorly blow. But once you get over the initial frustrations, you realize that there are so many ways to circumvent the insanely bureaucratized system. It may feel at times that the student-administration relationship is an antagonistic one, but once you find an administrator/professor who wants to develop a real partnership (Rachel Romesburg! Gale Kenny! Tovah Klein! Dean Blank! Megan Goldman! Hell, even D-Spar!), you realize the “war” is really nothing more than a state of mind.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? “Aren’t you lactose intolerant? “ – quote Nava Kantor. Yes, Nava. Yes, indeed I am. I guess that genetic disposition makes my decision pretty easy. I’ll make my Jewish Eastern European Old Country ancestors proud by confidently answering with “oral sex”. Hi, Baubie and Zaide!

Advice for the class of 2016: 

  • You may not find out what you want to be for the rest of your life. But if you play your cards right, you’ll discover who/how/why you want to be. And that’s a pretty spectacular discovery.
  • Also, when people suck (because they will), try coping by imagining them as a ridiculous cartoon character (running around frantically in circles/ramming into walls/blowing steam out of their ears/pianos dropping on them… whatever floats your schadenfreude boat). It’s wildly entertaining.

Any regrets? I think, generally, something I regret is focusing a bit too much on the final product and less on the process. Delusional Sour Patch Kids-fueled all nighters! Endless lab reports on plants you could care less about! Peer editing a mind-blowing, award-deserving thesis when yours is not even close to being done! The results themselves are often far less impressive than the processes. Being goal-oriented is important, but it is also distracting and can be disempowering if it dictates how you operate. Easier said than done, obviously. But so it goes.

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  • Anonymous says:


    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Are you aware that there are people in this world that have a severe medical condition which causes them to be that way? My mother for instance is one of those people. She is a truck driver that has bad knees and a bad back from driving the truck but you probably do not care about that case either. Oh well I am not one of those people I am 6’4″ 245lbs and I exercise every day. I would love to see you say something like to my mother in front of me. Probably never happen though you are probably just an internet tough guy. I doubt very seriously you would say that to someones face. Just my thought.What do you think. Oh I am sorry you probably do not have a brain. I on the other hand will be happy to buy you a plane ticket to come here and see if you have the nerve to say that to someone I know.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous What??

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous …what?

  • Pam Liss says:

    @Pam Liss Uh, duh… Sara Lederman is the most amazing person in general!!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous huh?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous is it just me or does her oral sex/cheese answer not make logical sense?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous i think she just thought the question was “oral sex or cheese?” where the one you pick is the one you’d keep, rather than the slightly less intuitive way bwog phrases it, where you name the one you’d give up.

  • sara's pimp says:

    @sara's pimp i hear she has a huge bed and she knows all the muppets personally. in conclusion: date this girl!!

  • Gratefully yours. says:

    @Gratefully yours. BWOG, thank you. For finally featuring someone of the female sex.

    1. ??? says:

      @??? Andrea Folds did one.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Sara is the SWEETEST person on this campus. Love that girl!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Sara is a genuinely wonderful person. Sweet, fun, and awesome!

  • Laura says:

    @Laura Wooo! So proud of you Sara! What a great combo – sweetest person you’ll ever meet, crazy smart, unbelievably ambitious, and genuinely cares about people. :)

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous for a school that practically 60% women, i’m surprised that this is only the 2nd female senior wisdom in 2012…get it together bwog

  • Rebecca Gray says:

    @Rebecca Gray Sara, you are a wonder and will be missed dearly.

  • Audrey Goldfarb says:

    @Audrey Goldfarb “Sara is special. Sara is special. Sara is special all day long!”

  • I think not. says:

    @I think not. Hates networking… no job.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Agreed. Networking works.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I once wrote an essay about a Lederman hero of mine.

    I would love to write another.

    Though words won’t do her justice…

    So just know this, world, Sara Lederman is my hero.

    So glad she is in this world.

    She makes my heart smile.

  • Networking says:

    @Networking Networking really, really works. I used to think it didn’t either, but then I learned I was doing it wrong. You just have to do it the right way. Exchanging business cards won’t get you anywhere, you have to genuinely engage people and connect on a personal level.

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