May

17

Senior Wisdom: Daniel Bonner

Written by

Daniel Bonner

Daniel Bonner

Name, Hometown, School: Daniel Bonner; Johannesburg, South Africa and Dallas, Texas, USA; Columbia College

Claim to fame? Gave you $$ as SGB Vice Chair, spent it as Hillel & Yavneh Prez. Founder, BonnerJams90 Inc.

Where are you going? Staying in the city to work, finally explore below 110th street, and see how long I can stay away from College Walk after graduation (1-2 days, tops – see instagram)

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. In case you haven’t heard me scream this from the Sundial before: things will never be this good. That’s not meant to be depressing — life will be awesome. But rarely, if ever, will you once again have this amount of time to stay up all night “writing a paper” but really just enjoying one extended life talk with friends; to plan a day of activities and land up running into a friend and spend it instead sitting on Low Steps; to introduce yourself to some random person you’ve always wanted to meet and gain a lifelong friend…you graduate from here with a Columbia degree, which is cool, but also with a more intangible, though much more meaningful group of Columbia friends. Would I take out those loans again for the degree? I think so. But for the friends? No question about it.
  2. Speaking of time – I learned not to waste it at the package center. One great option offered last year – order packages to your friends mailboxes and be grateful when they bring your stuff back. But if it’s Amazon, order your stuff to an amazon locker at Rite Aid. You just walk in, punch in a code, and voila. The stuff always arrives on time. It’s amazing. All good if you ignore everything else in this senior wisdom — but follow this advice.
  3. Ask. For. Help. Go to your TA and have them edit your paper; don’t turn in a Lit Hum or CC paper without running it by the Writing Center – those people seem to know exactly what Core professors are looking for even when Core professors don’t know what they are looking for. But more importantly, cast your I-need-help net wider. People here are looking out for you. This extends to your studies, your student groups, your personal wellness, and especially the dreaded job search. There is absolutely, positively zero shame in asking other people for help – to write a recommendation, to make an introduction, to put in a good word – as long as (and this is really important) as soon as you’re in a position to help others, you go above and beyond like people did for you. Keep reminding yourself this, because it’s really all that matters. So I guess I’ll use this public (but less public since the redesign? Kidding, love you Bwog…I wonder if this will even get posted now) space to thank everyone who ever went out on a limb for me on this campus. And to say, if there is ever anything I can ever do for any of you Columbia/Barnardians, say the word.And on that note, in these contexts and in everything, the very worst answer you can receive is no. That should not stop you from making many audacious requests along the way. There are doors everywhere; knock ‘em down.

Back in my day…

  • Bella and Alex of Cafe Nana fame made whatever I asked for (Alex, wherever you are….I miss you!)
  • People thought it was cool when I broke out my South African accent
  • I was the best looking Bonner at Columbia (shoutout to my sister: couldn’t have asked for a better friend on campus. It has been an honor to serve as your personal writing fellow.)
  • Friends came uptown to buy Four Loko at this place called CrackDel
  • I didn’t have a sense of humor.
  • …I guess some things never change.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: When I was 11, CNN did a story on my trip to Washington DC. I wrote some things you read in middle school as a TIME for Kids Kid Reporter. I dropped Reacting to the Past. My paper writing muse is Benny Benassi.

Write a CU Admirers post to anyone or anything at Columbia: Mary Cargill, Butler Reference Librarian (you read that correctly). We’ve never met, but every time I have a paper to start, I write to you for help with obscure sources and for four years you’ve written back with kind, helpful responses. Thanks for being awesome. My diploma is half yours, at least.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Cheese.

One thing to do before graduating: So many things. Pray to the Housing Gods and build yourself the perfect suite. It doesn’t matter where you live – my junior year, 8 of us lived in Ruggles in a space the size of most bathrooms in Texas – which definitely violated half a dozen codes. The people you live with will know you best – they are around for life talks at 3 am, all night paper writing sessions, they steal/eat your cheese (this helped me discover I can live without it) and Gatorades. They are there to call you out for being obnoxious, for not noticing something important, and will talk you into doing things you’ll definitely get in trouble for–and make some great memories in the process. 

At the end of a long day, Morton bags in tow, all you want to do is go home and crash. Do me a favor. Take a friend, walk into the middle of campus, spin round once or twice to get a 360 view, and say these words: this. place. is. awesome. I had a substitute teacher in high school who once told me I didn’t know how to stop and smell the roses. He was right. At Columbia, roses generally come in the form of pre-graduation fertilizer. But smell it anyway. Stop for long enough to realize that you are way luckier than any of us could have hoped to be. 

Also, get to know people on this campus. Raj in Butler & Dodge cafes, Claudia in Liz’s place, the random grad students who haunt Cafe Nana – Columbia will be more “yours” if you make it that way. And you can learn something from everyone in the process.

Read outside of class. Start with this, this, and anything by this guy.

Any regrets? Too many to list, but really none at all. This place is amazing. Enjoy every second.

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22 Comments

  1. Zachary Neugut  

    I love Bonner #DBoning

  2. Anonymous  

    how do u pronounce his last name lol

  3. ugh  

    only humanities majors can make light of staying up all night out of necessity

  4. David Fine  

    Good guy.

  5. Anonymous  

    STILL WAITING FOR THE DARK HAND'S SENIOR WISDOM.

  6. Hey Daniel,

    I am proud that you rejected the cheese, hope you are getting some of the other.

  7. Sarah  

    I used to refer to you as the best kid at the school—might need to change that to wisest now. Thanks for making this year awesome #bwithb

  8. Mary Cargill  

    This is Mary Cargill, and I just wanted to say I am so glad I could help--that is my job. And Bwog, I love the tag!

  9. Mary Cargill  

    I just saw this, and wanted to say I am so glad I could help--that is my job. And Bwog, I love your tag!

  10. CC'14  

    I'm sure he's a great guy, but as I get older I realize how important it is to approach these bits of advice with a healthy skepticism. It's important that we all take a moment to acknowledge that these "senior wisdoms"--with the exception of GS. You guys rock!-- are actually just coming from a couple of people <4 years older than any of us; they're still a young 20-something, as much as they may claim otherwise they're still trying to figure out what the fuck to do with their lives, and they're probably every bit as scared of the future as you are.

    To my point: please, please, don't let anyone ever tell you what is or what will be the "best time in your life." Don't let anyone ever tell you how life "works," or the way things "are."The wonderful benefit of our education here is not only the opportunity it provides us, but also hopefully the critical reasoning skills and self-confidence to approach life as the incredible and exhilarating uncharted territory it is. I don't care what you majored in. I don't care what your GPA is. I don't care if you're sad, alone, dejected and or confused; the fact that you were able to successfully weather all the shit this place can throw at you means that you ARE someone and you will BE someone. Learn this, love this, live this.

    I understand and value the point he sought to convey, that your undergraduate years are indeed a unique experience and a marked turning point in life, but every time I hear this argument I can't help but feel how wrong it is. We are all still so young, and have so many opportunities to play and explore and grow and mess up, over and over and over again. No matter how old you get, don't lose sight of this. That's when you know it's time to hand in the towel.

  11. Allison

    Daniel, I wish I had the time get to know you and Eric better after Assaf's class! You are seriously one smart and very cool dude. Good luck in all your future endeavors! Mazel tov! - Allison Richards

  12. What I took out of this...

    DILB

  13. ivan  

    daniel, you are the fucking man, keep on kicking ass at life. i wish that at some point we can have a ridiculous adventure,

  14. anon  

    I was in the same UWriting section as this guy, and based on the things he said and the way he said them, he came across as rather pretentious and conceited. But maybe he's a nice guy outside of class or maybe he changed since freshman year, idk

  15. Anonymous  

    who the fuck are these people? BWOG, can't you choose someone whom everyone knows? Not someone who hangs with his clique of 5-7 friends all throughout college?

    • Phil from Annapolis

      whoever anonymous is (clearly an unpopular coward,) you either don't go to this fine institution (mean girls shoutout) or you have spent the entirety of your time here holed up in your room, butler stacks (not getting any though,) or in Dodge (but not on the squash courts), because not only is Daniel Bonner one of the nicest and most kind hearted people I've ever met (although he may ask a hefty favor of his acquaintances now and again) he is also the single most social and outgoing individual I have encountered in an atmosphere that seems to breed hermits and cold fish. It is truly your loss that you did not have the pleasure of getting to know Dirty Dan, and I can only wish that somewhere down the line you meet him. I'm sure he'll greet you with an extended hand and a big smile.

  16. Nirav  

    Now I can return the compliment insist on paying me, since it works better for you anyway: genius :)

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