Aviva Nassimi

Your Sunday night wouldn’t be complete with at least one more senior wisdom. Next, we bring you some wisdom from Aviva Nassimi.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Aviva Nassimi, Barnard College, Psychology/Political Science Minor, Long Island, NY

Claim to fame: Maybe I was your RA, your TA, your speaking fellow, or the girl you saw searching “Puppies vs. babies” and “Tie-dye Your Hair With Kool-Aid” on YouTube in Butler.

Someone once called me the greatest lover of Barnard but I like to think she said “Greatest Lover at Barnard.”

Where are you going? Well the only job I have set in stone is an entry level position as a gastronomical voyeur.

(but real talk I’m in the city all summer so let’s hang if you’re around!)

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

1. I have unlearned more than I have learned at Columbia. I have unlearned 18 years of misguided, and often harmful, ideas of what it means to be successful/ to be ‘doing college right’/ to be a good daughter/ a good friend/ a woman/ an ally/ to be beautiful/ to be smart. Do not let your time at Columbia be just an affirmation of who you are when you begin as a first-year, and resist settling for any definition of who or what you should be when you leave.

2. Our fears are often more similar than you think. Every year as an RA for first-year students, I made my residents do an anonymous icebreaker that required everyone to write down their biggest fear. Year after year, the answers were almost identical and a majority of the fears concerned loneliness and a lack of belonging. They were often so similar that residents had trouble remembering which were ones they wrote. During your time at Columbia, we all, at some point, learn how deeply unhappy we can be as students here. What if we were all more honest and upfront with each other about the fear and shame and pain that can sometimes keep us up until 4am on a Wednesday? All I know is that “shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased.”

3. There is work in sometimes just sitting on the lawn with your friends. One of my wisest friends who already graduated once taught me that “work” doesn’t just mean schoolwork or homework or work-work, like internships and clubs and all of that — there is work in waking up every morning and there is work in being where you are, and work in resting, and work in taking chances, and work in dreaming and work in those tiny moments that we forget are so valuable as we build our lives bit by bit everyday. Maybe you are not yet an award-winning New York Times journalist, or you haven’t cured cancer or you don’t work for NASA (congratulations to the three of you on this campus who have/are/will.) But never ever forget that you have done (and will continue to do) so. much. work. here.

4. (Also, I cannot tell you the full story behind this, but trust me, clear your browser history and most visited sites before any class presentation in which your computer screen will be projected.)

“Back in my day…” I must have had really beautiful hair, because perfect strangers used to wait for me at the Columbia gates when classes were over to tell me how amazing my hair looked that day!!!!!!!!!!!! (“Ms., WOW you are so beautiful. Can I talk to you about our new shampoo?!”)

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I haven’t paid for a single book in college (thanks Borrow Direct,) once I farted right outside the oval office and nobody noticed and I have probably hugged (and kissed) 99% of this campus.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Reacting to the past with Marc Carnes, History of the City of New York with Kenneth Jackson and African American Literature with Farrah Griffin

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? ~*~ forever prov-alone ~*~

One thing to do before graduating: Get to know Barnard’s campus. To everyone at Barnard: Sometimes this school is hard to go to. Maybe you feel unnecessary, not a part of “the college,” or less deserving of being in this place at this time than other people around you because of things a small minority of people here might say or do. Never listen to that external voice. To that small minority: You live across from a historic school of amazing people doing amazing things. Please just recognize how lucky you are for that.

Any regrets? Well, I’m still not exactly sure what people are referring to when they talk about “the market”, and I have yet to spell “bourgeoisie” right on the first try. But, no, I have no heavy regrets. I only wish I were better able to express just how much gratitude and thanks I feel for you: strangers who have totally rocked my world with their contributions in lectures, neighbors who have indulged me in conversations about everything and anything at 3am sitting on the floors of our dorm hallways, and for friends who make midnight Tom’s milkshakes worth the digestive problems.