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Senior Wisdom: Isabel Rothberg

The bright smile of someone with bright ambitions

Earlier today, we posted the Senior Wisdom of a campus politician. Now, we’re posting the Senior Wisdom of an off-campus politician: Isabel Rothberg, who dropped out of school for a semester to work on the Clinton campaign.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Isabel Rothberg, CC, *concentration* in political science (ask me about how I had to change my major January of senior year…), Croton-on-Hudson, NY.

Claim to fame: Dropped out of school to work for the first woman to win the popular vote in an American presidential election. Dedicated three wonderful, crazy years of my life to CU Dems. Gave many, many campus tours. Was an annoyingly confident freshman who knew way too much about Columbia (just kidding, I will never apologize for being confident.)

Where are you going? Nothing set in stone yet, but hopefully spending some time outside the east coast liberal bubble.

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

1) Overcome FOMO. Taking the fall semester of my senior year off to work on the Clinton campaign full-time was the best decision I made in college. Leaving behind my friends and community and cutting my senior year in half was scary and hard and yeah, I missed my last homecoming and a few senior nights. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that, despite the outcome, I don’t regret for a second. (On that note, please, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to chat about taking time off for pursue professional opportunities – it is a little known but extremely rewarding option that I could talk about for hours.)

2) It’s okay if your first friends aren’t your best friends forever. You don’t need to meet your future bridesmaids during NSOP. Orientation friends are mostly born out of convenience – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Don’t worry if it takes time to meet “your people.” I met many of my closest friends sophomore and junior years. Similarly, it’s okay if your friendships change or dissolve over the course of college, that’s just a part of life. That said, do make sure to put time and effort into the relationships that you care about. Friendships will not sustain themselves without work. There’s no excuse for losing good friends because you couldn’t be bothered to grab lunch every once in awhile.

3) Choose classes for the professor, not the subject. Courses that you might not take otherwise but are taught by amazing professors at best, might really inspire you, and, at worst, will be an entertaining excursion into a new subject that you knew nothing about before (Economics of Gender with Professor Homa Zarghamee!). And on the flip side, seemingly incredible courses will be made dull by a dud professor. Also, if you’re not a morning person, don’t try to talk yourself into taking 8:40s. Just don’t do it. You’ll be miserable and tired and won’t be able to focus and it’ll just make you hate the class.

“Back in my day…” You had to take the subway to get to Shake Shack (which I did, not infrequently).

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: My sophomore housing group had lottery number 44 and picked into McBain doubles.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Core classes aside, Freedom of Speech and the Press with PrezBo and the Radical Tradition with Professor Eric Foner. Also anything with Professor Judith Russell.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Every year for Christmas my parents put a chunk of fine, imported Parmesan cheese in my stocking.

One thing to do before graduating: Write thank you cards for the professors, advisers, and friends who helped me along the way and made my four years here so special.

Any regrets? I regret not going to office hours more. I regret not getting a meal plan senior year (shoutout to my friends who swiped me in for Sunday brunch in John Jay). I regret the number of people who have told me that they thought I was mean or aloof when they first met me- it’s just my RBF, I promise!

I also really regret not getting more involved in campus politics. I dedicated most of my time to politics off campus and, though I followed student council happenings through my friends, tended to look down on it as unimportant compared to “real-world” issues. The fact of the matter is, Columbia is our “real-world” for four years and I wish I had done more to make life on this campus a little bit better.

Photo via Isabel Rothberg

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  • word says:

    @word Totally agree with the point about taking classes for the professor and not the subject matter!

  • love you isabel, you ray of motherfucking sunshine says:

    @love you isabel, you ray of motherfucking sunshine omg sophomore housing group 4ever!!!!

  • love you isabel, you ray of motherfucking sunshine X2 (guess who) says:

    @love you isabel, you ray of motherfucking sunshine X2 (guess who) lol by four years you really mean 3.5, right?

  • @Frannie Lydon You will be missed. Thanks for everything. You make me proud to be a part of your graduating class.

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