Photo cred Daphne Chen

Ladies and gentlemen, your CCSC President.

Name, Hometown, School: Karishma Habbu, Atlanta, GA, Columbia College

Claim to fame? Oddly the most visible thing I did as Columbia College Student Council President was harass you with a weekly email called Lion Bytes (Secret: those things took me 3 hrs each so I’m as glad as you are that they are no more)

Where are you going? Medical school at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, OH

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. The websites Print at CU, Housing at CU, Laundry View, and the Columbia Directory of Courses will all make your life easier (I didn’t know about the directory until junior year!). Both Dining and Athletics have mobile apps if you’re into either of those things. SSOL has a lot more stuff on it than you would think so take the time to click all the buttons. Through google labs you can divide your inbox into unread at the top and read at the bottom = solid gold. Asana is a project managing app that will help you organize your life – if used along with the app Cue, you will never miss a to do.
  2. You can be a good leader without being a politician. One typically requires manipulating those around you while the other does not. I use to think being a leader was about making noise, never trusting the vaguely termed “administration” and generally being aggressive. But here’s the thing; the only way to get people to listen to you is to have them respect you. I learned through trial and error that well-articulated logic, negotiation and compromise will get you much farther than throwing tantrums and telling lies.
  3. It’s not weird to have no good friends, an iffy GPA, and intense anxiety about your future all at the same time. I wish someone had told me that along with the wonderful fact that each of those insecurities CAN AND WILL be resolved over your four years here. Good friends are made through shared experiences and time spent together – of course it’ll take a year or two to find those! You’re in a completely new academic environment that is more rigorous than most grad programs – of course it’ll take you time (it took me 3 semesters) to figure out how to study or write that perfect paper! As for the last one – all you can ask of yourself is your best. Once you know you’re putting your best into your work, applications, etc., there is really no point in worrying. Your self-esteem cannot rely on little successes and failures that will figure themselves out. Life at Columbia is so good once you’re confident in who you are and what you’re doing.

Back in my day… Cubmail was the bane of our existence, Campo was the place to be on a Thursday night, places like JJs, the EC lobby and even that one floor in Wallach just looked different, gender neutral housing and ROTC were not a thing, the smoking ban was STILL being debated , a mega event called Backyard BBQ (including Carnival esque dancers and moon bounces scattered across the lawns) happened every spring – eesh, I could go on. Needless to say, the Columbia campus, its policies and events are dynamic beasts. Change is always possible!

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I was gifted lacy pink underwear with “Prezbu” emblazoned in rhinestones across the top of it. That must mean something.

Write a CU Admirers post to anyone or anything at Columbia:

Addy (Woodbridge), Iqbal (Furnald), Murray (Hartley), Kathy (Furnald) – This was a difficult question because there are so many people – professors, friends, student group members, administrators – who I admire. However, I never told Addy, Iqbal, Murray or Kathy just how much it meant to me that every time I came home, I had a warm greeting and a smiling face to look forward to. Despite the long hours, occasional double shifts, and late nights, these four people maintained positive, generous and even nurturing attitudes toward the students who inhabited the residence halls they were guarding. That’s worthy of admiration.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? My anxiety over providing a witty response to this question almost kept me from writing a Senior Wisdom. Bwog, I got nothing except to say that cheese has never disappointed me.

One thing to do before graduating: Climb to the roof of Low, protest something, fall in love, go to 1020, take a visual arts class, have knowledge darts thrown at you by members of a social justice group, visit Dean Valentini then say hi to him every time you see him, and finally – if you don’t like something about your Columbia experience, or if you have an idea to make it better – don’t be passive! Email my capable successor Daphne Chen and make sure she/the council helps you make the change you want to see.

Any regrets? I’m happy to say that I either knew or recognized at least 75% of the 1,169 people I saw walk across stage one by one on Class Day. I think that’s a good thing, but the reality is that I spent a lot of time at this school creating and maintaining acquaintances. My regret is twofold: that I kept so many of those relationships on a superficial level for so long, and that I let my initial assumptions about people impede what could have otherwise been a wonderful relationship. I did what I could over my senior year to right these wrongs, but there was not enough time. All this boils down to two pieces of unsolicited advice – try not to tack on associations like “superficial,” “snobby”, “hipster” etc. onto someone before giving them the chance to prove your assumption wrong. Also, if you make an acquaintance your freshman, sophomore or even junior year, don’t assume that person has to stay an acquaintance. People typically respond well to the request for a one on one lunch or drink, and taking the time to do so may result in a new and meaningful friendship.