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Senior Wisdom: Alangoya Tezel

The wise Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus once said, “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.” Learn about how senior Alangoya Tezel managed to do it all below. 

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Alangoya Tezel; Columbia College, Neuroscience and Behavior/Philosophy double major; Louisville, Kentucky

Claim to fame: During a Faculty House lunch, I convinced Mowsh to rename her problem book “The Learning Manual.” I’ve been the Victoria’s Secret PINK campus rep for two years, and I passed the Swim Test without knowing how to swim. I convinced my friend AJ to drop pre-med to pursue botany.

Where are you going? Medical school, I think? Practicing Emergency Medicine sounds like the dream.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2022?

I’ve talked to so many first-years who feel like they have nothing figured out. In retrospect, I guess I felt like that, too. Just take it slow and remember that you have time to find your people (and you will) and you have time to find out where you want to be. In the meantime, hold onto the knowledge that everyone, albeit in varying degrees, feels the same way you do. This isn’t meant to be a negative thing but a communal experience. We’re all in this scary, transformative experience at Columbia together. You’re exactly where you need to be.

Apply for everything, even if you feel completely unqualified. One of the most powerful things one of my mentors told me is that “whether you say you can or you can’t, either way you are right.” I’ve gotten so many positions and jobs I never thought I would get, but because I was bold enough to apply and confident enough to believe in myself, I got them and learned so much. College, maybe more than any other stage of life, is about creating yourself, not finding yourself. Figure out what kind of person you want to be and try to put yourself in the experiences you need to be that person.

It is so, so important to support your friends in their pursuits. Go to their dance shows, or prayer groups, or award ceremonies. It’s so easy to forget that we go to school with some incredible people doing incredible things. Not only are you seeing that, but you get to learn so much more about your friends/fellow classmates by seeing them in their elements, seeing what they’re passionate about and have worked towards outside of your friendship with them.

Some other random tidbits:

  • Nous Café is the most underrated, wonderful establishment on this campus. It’s in Philosophy Hall and, while technically only grad students have swipe access, there’s always people going in and out, so it’s easy to sneak your way in. There’s a barista named Tintin there, and he will be your friend. Go before 4pm if you want banh mi or gyuu don.
  • Being a psychology lab TA is the best campus job that no one has ever heard of. I’ve been one for six semesters. Ten hours a week, very chill job requirements, great pay. You don’t need to be a psychology major. Look into it.
  • There are so many better places to study than Butler. Check out SIPA, Teacher’s College pillow pit, or the nice couch-chairs at Geology Library (6th floor Schermerhorn, my personal favorite).
  • If you’re a rising senior and freaking out about being interested in everything and running out of time, take advantage of auditing courses! Seniors are able to formally audit courses (which means you take a course for R credit, which is worth 1 point, it shows up on your transcript, and you don’t have to do any assignments for it). One person I knew audited 10 courses (5 each semester) her senior year just to explore cool classes.
  • If you’re ever a little tight on cash, then sign up to do experiments for the Columbia Business School or CELSS. They’re usually kinda fun and you help science. But also, the CELSS experiments always purposely overbook, so if you’re there on-time but at the end of the line, they’ll give you $10-20 just for showing up.
  • Other things to check out: Barnard Clay Collective, Academic Awards Committee, Columbia Bartending Agency, TEDxColumbiaUniversity, Santacon, Subway Party.

“Back in my day…” There was no Buy Sell Memes, no one told pupper to study the test, we still had to pay for laundry, and we thought Malia Obama would go to Barnard. Getting the most likes on Yik Yak was cool, M2M was thriving, and everyone fangirled over Maodo Lo. I wrote my P3 and P4 about Ferguson because it had just happened, and Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot N*gga” was everyone’s go-to party jam.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: Once I went to Café East to get fro yo and they told me “It’s too early for fro yo” and it was literally 11am so I waited in Café East until they would serve me fro yo.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? There are so many amazing philosophy classes. Islamic Philosophy with Souleymane Diagne completely changed my life, Metaphysics with Achille Varzi (if you want to learn about time travel or question whether holes exist), Philosophy of Art with Lydia Goehr.

Life at the End of Life with Robert Pollack is a great seminar if you’re interested in volunteering in end-of-life care/questions about dying. Christia Mercer also teaches a cool seminar called Philosophy, Justice, and Activism where you actually volunteer at an activist organization of your choice!

I also took Ceramics I with Leah Wolff this past semester, and it was wonderful. I don’t think there are a lot of opportunities in college to create things using only your hands, or to be actively encouraged to be expressive. Definitely take advantage!

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Cheese would never disappoint me.

Whom would you like to thank? All of the wonderful people that have, against all odds, made Columbia feel like home. Thank you to APAHM for being such a warm community. Thank you to my TEDx Curation team for being so brilliant. Thank you to Andrea for the weekly brunches and to Charlotte for being so inspiring. Thank you to Shawn for risking his life to (successfully) retrieve my stolen iPhone. Thank you to Stephanie for dating Shawn. Thank you to all the SiPALS of Isengard, old and new, for all the board games, road trips, joint Seamless orders, inefficient study sessions, and movie nights.

Thank you to Dr. Christia Mercer for supporting me so much in my philosophical endeavors, and for the countless professors that encouraged me and taught me. Thanks to Louis and Michelle for being the best bosses. Above all, thanks to Bellevue Hospital for giving me the life direction I needed when I needed it the most. And, lastly, thanks to the future double-doctor Zoey for being my best gal pal through it all.

One thing to do before graduating: Sneak into Schermerhorn 501 after hours and watch a movie with your friends. Boom—your own personal movie theatre.

Any regrets? One time I put my debit card in a cash-only vending machine, thinking it was fine because the sign only said “no credit cards.” That was dumb.


Image via Alangoya Tezel

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1 Comment

  • anon says:

    @anon About R credit–it’s not actually true that “Seniors are able to formally audit courses (which means you take a course for R credit, which is worth 1 point, it shows up on your transcript, and you don’t have to do any assignments for it).” R credit classes do appear on your transcript, but they earn you 0 credits. And you may have to do some work–R credit requires an agreement between you and the professor about what is required. Usually it’s just attendance, but not always.

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