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.