Probably thinking about the Bachelor

For our last Senior Wisdom, we have star former Managing Editor Courtney Couillard, who knows her way around the three D’s – data, drama, and the Diana.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Courtney Couillard, Barnard College, Political Science, Dover, NH

Claim to Fame: Helped run this gossip site at Columbia as Managing Editor. Broke Bacchanal headliner news before Spec. Told Columbia it should pay for my period. Ate more Diana white pizzas in the past four years than I’m proud to admit.

Where are you going? Probably to get a Harvest Bowl at Sweetgreen and watch Great British Bakeoff.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2021?

1) There is a difference between solitude and loneliness. Both are perfectly ok to experience during your time here. I challenge you to seek out the former. This can be through solo walks in Riverside, going to a museum alone, spending the entire day reading a book. As for loneliness- it seems impossible that you could feel alone in New York. But loneliness has its way of tapping you on the shoulder from time to time, and it’s completely normal. Do know that loneliness is not a sign of weakness, and it’s always ok to ask for help when you can’t handle it on your own any longer.

2) Participate in the hard conversations. The 2016 election taught us that the liberal elite, including Columbia, lives in an echo chamber. To live this way and only talk to people who share the same thoughts as you is easy, monotonous, and suffocating. Seek out opportunities to engage with each other on issues you don’t agree upon. But here’s the challenge: go into the conversation without the sole purpose to change the other person’s mind. It’s amazing how much you can learn when you stop shouting over people and begin to listen.

3) Diana serves breakfast every weekday starting at 9:30am. You can get a full meal, including a breakfast sandwich by Benny, oatmeal, yogurt, coffee, and juice, for one meal swipe. Don’t play yourself and eat Hewitt breakfast if your first class isn’t until 10:10.

“Back in my day…” Columbia students used Venmo to buy their weed. Barnard students needed a (male) escort to enjoy JJ’s mozz sticks. You registered for classes on eBear. Orgo Night was performed in 209 (boo, Ann Thorton). Maggie the Magnolia bloomed every Spring. Barnard’s president was a woman.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I may hate drama, but I love my data!

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Modernism with Margaret Vandenburg (or any class with her for that matter.) She is the queen of literature, full of humor, empathy, and passion (plus I read some of my favorite books in this class.) I also can’t speak highly enough about any class with Helene Foley, Premilla Nadasen, and Michael Miller. They all changed how I learn and understand the world. If any of you are reading this: thank you!

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? If I’ve learned anything from watching hours of Barefoot Contessa, it’s that you can never be disappointed by a good cheese board.

One thing to do before graduating: Ask a person you admire out for coffee. This can be someone you like romantically, platonically, intellectually, etc. There have been so many people I’ve shared lectures with that I wish I had gotten to know better. But I’ve also made wonderful friends and had fantastic conversations with the people I’ve made the effort to get to know.

Any regrets? Worrying too much about grades that wouldn’t define me. Not investing more time and love in the people who would define me. Not asking for help more. Not telling my parents I adore them more often (hi mom and dad! You are both brilliant lights in my life.) Keeping my head down and looking at my phone when I could be appreciating the places and people around me.

Photo via Courtney Couillard