Ally Engelberg

Ally Engelberg

Here is our second senior wisdom of the day, brought to you by Barnard senior Ally Engelberg.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Ally Engelberg, Barnard, American Studies/Film Studies double major, Lexington, Massachusetts (yes, home of the Shot Heard ‘Round the World, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, “the Redcoats are coming,” Paul Revere— you know the drill).

Claim to fame: Producer of The 119th and 120th Annual Varsity Shows, Vice President of the CU Performing Arts League, the girl who changed the name of SDT’s talent show benefitting Prevent Child Abuse America from “Greek Beats” to “Quest for the BeSDT,” and permanent resident of the Lerner 5 and Lerner 7 administrative offices (s/o to Vicky Zabriskie and Rodney Mirabal for being my ride or die clique for four years).

Where are you going? Nowhere, ever.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2019?

  1. Use Google Drive, because it means that you’re collaborating and making stuff with your peers. Sophomore year, two friends and I (whom I had JUST met) decided to write a full length parody of a musical in three days and it’s one of the best Google Docs in my Drive because to me it signifies the start of our wacky friendship. Someone also once told me that my meticulously organized Google Drive was hot, so I guess that’s a perk too. As a total aside, you know who you are, I’m ready to marry you please.
  2. Stay friends. I have found myself lucky beyond belief to have people in my life who’d travel for me, drink with me, and create with me at a moment’s notice, maybe less. They’re going abroad? They graduated? They’re interning in Tennessee this summer? Keep in touch because it matters. Your peers at Columbia will be people you’ll still want to know when you’re 75. So pick up the phone and make plans. Now, do it now.
  3. Notes of appreciation go a long way. To friends, professors, administrators, advisors— anyone who’s working hard for you, and there are usually tons of those people at any given time. Actually take a pen and paper and physically write down a sincere thank you. People keep those notes forever; I do. And yes, I am already your Jewish mother.

“Back in my day…” The Varsity Show’s West End Preview was at Havana Central. Aaron at Barnard Print Services would print you a million color posters for $0.0001 by 9am the next morning. Ferris had this terrible staircase where you had to engage in mano a mano combat just to bypass one person in order to get to the bulk of the— oh wait.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer When I was a kid, I dreamed of working at the NASA Mission Control Center. You know, so I could tell the astronauts what to do. And when to do it. Etc.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? I first really understood the meaning of “tough love” in the Fall of 2014 in my Film Studies thesis seminar with Annette Insdorf. Tough love, I learned, is when a professor cares about your ideas so much that she won’t put up with anything less than literal perfection. Which I, of course, never achieved. And so my favorite class was the one in which I received the worst grade. We spent seven (7) weeks scrutinizing one (1) film and it was the most riveting intellectual experience of my life. Also, honorable mention, do not graduate without taking Andrew Delbanco’s Foundations of American Literature. SEAS kids, I’m looking at you.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I choose to keep cheese because cheese has never texted me at 2am to come watch Netflix and “chillz lol.”

One thing to do before graduating: I won’t say see the Varsity Show, because that’s what you thought I was gonna write. So don’t just see it, get involved. The Varsity Show is the hardest and simultaneously most rewarding thing I have ever done. It taught me how to be a leader, how to attack an issue with both the question and the answer, how to think 100 steps ahead, how to be the most ambitious person in the room. Most of all, though, it taught me how to love Columbia, and it gave me my family. It’s worth it. I’d bet my life on it.

Any regrets? I regret not saying “yes and” to more sleepless nights. College is finite, and to quote one of my favorite Varsity Show songs that never made it to the stage: “College won’t last / There’s only one truth / I will hold fast / To the spirit of youth”