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Senior Wisdom: Aviva Nassimi


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.

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  • XOXOXOXOXO says:

    @XOXOXOXOXO You truly are the Greatest Lover at Barnard, or probably the world, realistically!! You’re the brightest ray of sunshine around.



  • YAAAAASSSS says:


  • BC '15 says:

    @BC '15 I was in reacting with Aviva my first year and that girl is definitely going places. Emperor for lyfe. Love you Viv <3

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Truly one of the greatest people I have met at this school. You are so loved, Aviva!!!!

    1. Knew I Loved You says:

      @Knew I Loved You On the 1st day of a class about memory and trauma and you joked about how wrong it was you had brought a glittered out Flower Power notepad to write in

      God you bring so much joy to peoples’ lives

  • anon says:

    @anon A true god among men

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous **women

  • Mia says:

    @Mia And she’s a mock trial star

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous This is everything a Senior Wisdom should be, and Aviva is everything a person should be. I don’t even know her that well– we met each other during NSOP and haven’t had classes together or anything since then– but every time I see Aviva she gives me the biggest smile, greets me by name, and asks me how I am in a way that suggests she genuinely cares. Aviva, you seem like a truly special person, and I hope you never lose that one-of-a-kind spark. (Also, the bit about “unlearning” things at Columbia is probably the truest piece of wisdom anyone has ever given in one of these.)

  • anonymous says:

    @anonymous that part about barnard is everything. aviva is such a special person.

  • AVIVA IS JESUS says:


  • -- says:

    @-- Aviva, thank you for your energy and radiance. Don’t ever give that up.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous This is spectacular, Aviva. One of the best senior wisdoms I’ve ever read, written by one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

  • somebody says:

    @somebody thank you for your radiant, positive ~*vibes*~

  • cdm says:

    @cdm I worship aviva and this has me tearin’

  • vivlover123 says:

    @vivlover123 Once again, you manage to simply express what no one else can verbalize! Although I hate to quantify love and appreciation through social media posts and likes, I hope you recognize how much this whole campus has been influenced by you and cares about you. Love you Viv, Barnard will NOT be the same without you!

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