Name, Hometown, School: Sarah Ngu. Malaysia (first 10 years). Irvine, California (7 years). Now in Long Island (3+ years). Columbia College. American Studies & Political Science.
Claim to Fame? I like to think about questions, search for answers and create forums for people to discuss them, whether as the president of the Veritas Forum or as a journalist for Eye/Bwog. Also I do wellness things as a Resident Advisor (East Campus) and as a (retired) Nightline peer counselor.
Where are you going? I’ll be chilling at home with family to thankfully read books and watch movies, and after a few years of work (start-ups, journalism, who knows), I’ll apply to seminary to get a PhD in some theological topic. I’d like to end up teaching in a secular university some day.
Three things you learned at Columbia:
Organizing Innovation, a class offered by David Stark, transformed the way I think about any organization I’m part of and how to structure organizations in a way that fosters innovative ideas. That said, leadership matters above all.
I came into Columbia as a fairly hardcore individualist, but have since accepted the fact that our identities are irrevocably shaped by lots of things outside of ourselves (ideas, upbringing, social norms and structures, etc).
Since I can be quite the hermit, I’ve surprisingly picked up in my time here a public, civic commitment to improving the campus community, inspired by my peers and leaders. If I see a problem, it’s almost second nature now to gather a few people, put together a solution, and talk to the right administrator (who is generally willing to listen).
“Back in my day…” Wellness wasn’t as much a priority as it is now; students were less involved/concerned with how this university functions; Spicy Special didn’t exist; Joe’s wasn’t there to rip you off.
Justify your existence in 30 words or less: This is silly; no existence needs to be justified.
Is the War on Fun over? Who won? Any war stories? I’m really not a good person to ask this question (as an RA, I was written up for going to 40’s on 40 – womp), but I’m pretty sure what limits us is less the administration and more our creativity.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Did I mention I plan on going to seminary?
Advice for the class of 2016:
Don’t double major: double concentrate, and no one will know the difference on your resume.
So much of college is about you and your issues and your goals. Do one service activity that puts in direct contact with those you are serving (Nightline was that for me).
In thinking about what to major in or simply how to spend my time here, I found asking myself this question helpful, “What can I get / do in my time here that I can’t get / do anywhere else?” That has meant friends + humanities classes (because no one cares about that stuff afterwards!) + a few clubs/causes that are important to me.
The American Studies Dept is fantastic because 1) the faculty actually care about undergraduate teaching 2) they carry a sense of civic values in their teaching 3) it’s interdisciplinary which is great if you’re curious about lots of things and like to make connections. Also, sometimes they give out free cookies in the Center.
Always be up for a new experience, but eventually, start being really picky. Figure out what kind of fun you like having, whom you enjoy being with or learn from, whom you can hang out with without a filter, what you care most about, and what you want your academic experience to be about.
It took me awhile to realize that while the big problems of the world need people to fix them, sometimes that person is not you. By that time I had taken too many Poli Sci classes. Flourish where you are placed, where you find yourself drawn to, even if you can’t justify it.
Not hopping on at the tail-end of Kenneth Jackson’s bike tour.
Not spending more time doing things that are reinvigorating for me, like walking in nature and talking about theology.
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