Name, Hometown, School, Major: Emily Nagel, Ridley Park, PA (Just outside of Philadelphia), CC, Drama and Theatre Arts, English
Claim to Fame: Leading prefrosh all over campus, RA/CA’ing in Carman and Furnald, and probably more visibly, writing XMAS!5 with Jeff Stern and directing XMAS! 6, 3-year VShow Alum (directed 117), refusing to make a normal face in any picture, much to the chagrin of my close, personal friends, and for brightly colored cardigans and the phrase “Live your dreams.”
Where are you going? Hazlehurst, Mississippi to teach elementary school with Teach for America.
Three things you learned at Columbia:
Sleep does not mean you’re weak, it doesn’t mean you’re not dedicated, and it doesn’t mean you’re worse than anyone else. Sleep means you’re human. Which, you know, you are. You’re not a robot. Same goes with eating. It’s okay to put your physical health as a priority. I learned that the hard way in my junior year when I pushed myself too hard and made myself pretty sick. Be well.
You choose your attitude. It’s okay to be the radical who likes things, who’s not complaining, who has a positive attitude. Just because everyone else is cranky or stressed, doesn’t mean you have to be. Just because everyone else hates Herodotus, doesn’t mean you have to. If you enter every class expecting that you will learn, you will. If you enter into every group meeting and performance expecting your peers to do amazing things, you’ll see your peers do amazing things. Have the courage to be positive. College is too short not to be.
Your peers are amazing people. You are an amazing person. You would not be here if you weren’t. You can’t define yourself in comparison to others, but only in comparison to yourself. Step back and really appreciate all that you and your friends are accomplishing, and define success on your own terms, not anyone else’s.
“Back in my day…” Smoothies at JJ’s were full size and you ran out of dining dollars by the second week of the semester.
Justify your existence in 30 words or less: I am a New Yorker, a Columbian, and a Phillies fan, and I believe in love, grilled cheese, doing good, working hard, dogs, stickers, and you.
Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? There was never a war. Asking people to be smart, safe, and responsible is not a war, and neither is trying to abide by federal laws is not a war. The university is not a lawless, Dionysian green world, and we all know it. I don’t think anyone comes here seriously expecting to be allowed to do whatever we want. If you stand back and look at the efforts the administration makes not to tell us what to do but how to do it responsibly, you see how much we get away with. I think you would be astonished by the effort it takes to get into any serious trouble with this administration.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Much like Liz Lemon, I would never abandon cheese, and how dare you try to make me?
Advice for the class of 2016:
Above all, celebrate the tremendous things that you and your peers will accomplish. Support each other, reward risk taking, and appreciate the hard work all of you put into things that often few will notice.
Take care of yourself. Ask for help when you need it. You didn’t come here to be coddled, but that doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to assistance. If you want a different advisor, get one. Get to know your professors. Ask upper classmen for advice.
Varsity Show was one of the most rewarding experiences in my time here at Columbia. I was blessed to share it with a really wonderful group of people. That is not always the experience. Which is all to say, try the things you want to try, and do not be deterred from others’ experiences. Do what you like and what you believe in and when you neither like nor believe in it, then stop doing it. But get out of Butler.
ESPECIALLY in seminars and in Bwog comments, but in general, try to understand, not to be understood.
You are allowed to make mistakes. In fact, please do. Try new things. Take risks. Learn to fail. Learn to dust yourself off and try again. Hold fast to your principles, but realize that a lot of times things aren’t black and white. Don’t be afraid to say you’re wrong, or to change your mind.
As a wise professor once told me, don’t let your schooling get in the way of your education. Do what you love. Love what you do. Get out into the city. Seriously. But don’t get too cool for Columbia traditions. Tree lighting, Bacchanal, Homecoming, Varsity Show, KCST’s Spring Show, Holi, Orgo Night, Pillow Fight – go to them.
A little gratitude goes a long way. Work hard. Be generous. Do good. Have fun. If you love Columbia, which I hope you will, find a way to use your talents to give back. If you don’t like something, take steps to make it better. Complaining doesn’t do anything. Leave your community better than when you found it. I truly believe you go the the greatest college in the world. Make the absolute most of your four years here – of the city, your professors, and most of all your peers. Wear your light blue with pride.
Any regrets? Had some growing pains, but no regrets. I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything. Thanks for an incredible four years, Columbia.