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Senior Wisdom: Joseph Powers


not even graduation bleachers can stop that smile

Joseph Powers – known to many as Bwog’s former Internal Editor (or, Bwog Dad), and to many others as the guy who wrote that weird deer overseen a couple of years ago – discusses posts that probably shouldn’t have been published and experiences with math TAs that should. (If some of this advice sounds like it’s coming from a charming Southern grandpa without an unfriendly bone in his body, that’s because it kind of is.)

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Joseph Powers, CC, Applied Mathematics, Alexandria, VA

Claim to fame: As Daily Editor, Arts Editor, and finally Internal Editor of Bwog, I respectively: wrote a post about a deer inspiring the historic campus dialogue “I don’t want to drag this lyrical post down, but in this part of the country deer in Riverside Park mean Lyme Disease in Morningside Heights…”; reviewed the Varsity Show, my thoughts themselves favorably reviewed as “This is the weirdest review. It’s like a CC class post.”; and helped oversee a site universally acclaimed as “better when I was a first-year.”

Also: a truly cringeworthy photo in the Spectator included in an article (incorrectly) implying I starred in a one-man show.

Where are you going? As of now, no idea! It was finance for a while, and then in a moment of liberation and short-lived catharsis I realized it was not. I suppose I will split my time trying to enjoy the city and worrying about my future, so living the Columbia lifestyle in an apartment basically.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2020?

1) It’s amazing how much we can affect the lives of people around us. Even in a moment we might never think about again, we can turn someone’s whole day around. On one hand, this means we can cause a lot of hurt if we’re careless, and we have to be aware of that. On the other hand, though, kindness really does matter, and a friendly word or an extra bit of understanding go so much further than it seems like they could. If I could stress only one thing, that’s what it would be.

Since I get three things, on a less serious note:

2) I have never had a TA who collected my problem sets on time, most have waited until the next afternoon, and the doors of the math building are incapable of locking. Do what you will with that information.

3) The green dumpling cart across the street from Barnard gates will sell you something like 20 dumplings for $5, and they are pretty decent.

“Back in my day…” Renovations had only just started on the rotunda at the center of Grounds, so streaking the Lawn was much more majestic. The scandal of the year was Beta’s decision to abandon a long tradition as a dry house, and we wore bow ties to all of the football games.

I transferred from UVA.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer. I’m lucky to have played editor to Henry Litwhiler, Betsy Ladyzhets, Anika Benkov, and Edward Hintze, and other writers whose future success I claim partial bragging rights to here.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? I’m a sucker for the core, so it’s going to be a tie between ArtHum with Julia Siemon (who is just amazing) and MusicHum with Ramin Amir Arjomand (who is genuinely inspiring).

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? That answer stays between myself, my girlfriend, and John, my cheesemonger at the Broadway farmer’s market.

One thing to do before graduating: Make a friend off campus. I love this school, but sometimes our culture is more like a shared anxiety. An off-campus friend is a breath of fresh air, both in the perspective they can offer and in the literal fresh air you will find when you leave Butler to visit them. And there’s always the chance that by your senior year you realize your off-campus friend is actually your best friend.

Any regrets? It depends. I’ve acted in ways I’m ashamed of, let opportunities pass me by, and published more than a few Bwog posts that never should have seen the light of day. I also wouldn’t change a thing. The last thing I’d want is to go back to who I was before I learned from those experiences and when I consider the life I have now I am so thankful and so at a loss to explain any of it. Honestly, years in and about to graduate, I’m still surprised and delighted just to find myself here at Columbia.

Bwog Dad forever and always via JJP

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  • JJP's former ME says:

    @JJP's former ME This guy is one of the most considerate people I’ve met at Columbia. Best of luck JJP <3

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous The math building DOES lock! But right about TA’s collecting on time.

  • So lucky says:

    @So lucky to have met this extraordinary person. Definitely one of my favorite people at Columbia and I can’t wait to see what he does next!

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