Senior Wisdom: Elizabeth Power
Written by Bwog Staff
Elizabeth Power, powerhouse of this year’s KCST run and the woman who puts all those “JJ 4 life!!!” people to shame.
Name, Hometown, School: Elizabeth Power, New York City, CC
Claim to fame? I’m the current grande dame of John Jay, having lived there for three out of my four years here—this year, I’m actually the RA on the floor I lived on as a freshman. Nifty, right? Full circle! Closure! Back in my salad days, I was in various shows on campus (including V117), but then I realized that I like power and control even more than attention, so I switched to directing! Now my major claim to theatrical fame is that I was the first person in a while (maybe ever?) to direct a fall show and a spring show for KCST in the same academic year. I’m also a champion long-distance blue-binner.
Where are you going? I only very recently realized that I have zero desire to work in theater in any professional capacity, so I’m a little mentally adrift right now. Starting after Memorial Day, I’ll be working for a commercial real estate lawyer in midtown and tutoring while I wrestle with my demons and maybe eventually apply to grad school.
3 things you learned at Columbia:
- The John Jay laundry room will eat your quarters and leave your clothes a weird grayish-blue color. It’s also full of roaches. Until it’s renovated, just go to Hartley. (Pro tip: the Wallach vending machine on the far right will give you quarters if you put in a 1 or 5-dollar bill and push the change button.)
- If you need to be in a library to do work, that is completely fine. I think there’s some real value in separating your life-space from your work-and-stress place. On the other hand, if you’re trimming your bangs in Butler, it is Time To Leave. (THAT IS A REAL THING THAT I SAW ONCE ON THE FOURTH FLOOR.)
- Quit apologizing for your own power/intelligence/authority. Reason 1: It’s self-sabotaging. Reason 2: It’s annoying. This is a particularly important lesson for anyone in a leadership position—”leadership” has become a dumb, empty word, but you know what I mean. If you’re running shit, run your shit and don’t apologize for it. Don’t be afraid to challenge people, to demand and expect good work from them. Make no bones about the fact that you’re going to be demanding, and you’ll get more respect and better results than if you were constantly hemming and hawing and trying to be all buddy-buddy with everyone. The same lesson applies to talking in class: I cringe to think of how many times I prefaced comments with “This might be stupid, but…” NO. If you’re making a statement, own it. Apologizing for your words doesn’t change the fact that they’re taking up your classmates’ time and attention, so just suck it up and take some ownership. I gained so much confidence and self-respect when I finally learned how to do that.
Back in my day….Nothing at this school started before 9:10 AM. NOTHING.
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I rarely consumed media created post-1975 until I was like, thirteen, so I’m kind of a fun social experiment.
Write a CU Admirers post to anyone or anything at Columbia: I’ve never been to Disneyland, but I’m pretty sure EC H205 is the happiest place on earth.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Cheese. (Side note, though: I think this question would be great jumping-off point for an awesome/awful B movie wherein a game of Insane Hypotheticals goes terribly, terribly wrong—because of, like, an ancient curse or something—and the players have to live out the choices they make in the game. This could also be an excellent trashy YA novel, come to think of it.)
One thing to do before graduating: Go to a grad student’s office hours. Yes, some TA’s are miserable pedants, and no, they don’t generally inspire the same kind of cult-like devotion as certain professors. But most of them are just a few years older than we are, so they can offer perspective that’s tempered by an immediate understanding of what we’re going through. And honestly, a lot of them are just cool people: I’ve gotten some solid advice from my TA’s this year, but I’ve also had some fun, fascinating conversations that came out of just showing up to office hours to shoot the breeze for a while.
Any regrets? I spent far too much time clinging to a major I was no longer invested in because I was scared of having to re-think how I saw myself and my priorities. I wish I hadn’t been so cautious about basically everything my freshman year. I never got to take a class with Nick Dames, nor did I ever learn how to keep my room even kind of neat. But really, I’m pleased as punch with how this whole college thing turned out. Everything is a chain reaction: even if I had magical time machine powers, I can’t think of something I would be able to go back and change without losing another something that’s been immensely important to me.