This next senior wisdom is from Cindy Liu, known for her work advocating for music performance space at Columbia. She spent a lot of time “sweating it out at the piano” but sadly “can’t code for shit.”
Name, School, Major, Hometown: Cindy Liu, CC ’18, English & Sociology, born in NYC & sadly raised in DC.
Claim to fame: Yelling at the Columbia administration about how musicians don’t have a performance space on campus. Running with Grassroots Columbia for CCSC (and losing :(). Also, compiling the NYC Food Bible, sweating it out at the piano, and screaming (in general).
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2022?
1. SPEAK: I’ve never regretted expressing myself genuinely, whether with words or through music, about something I believe in. If you’re truly passionate about something, your body will crave expressing it with others; you won’t sleep until you’ve articulated why it’s important to you. It could be something as trivial as jumping in during seminar, or as nerve-wracking as sharing your work in front of an audience. There is no shame in speaking your mind, values, and truth–it’s the strongest weapon we have against injustice, the haters, or anything else that dulls the unique light within you.
a. This goes for asking for help, too. Every next thing written about this campus touches on mental health, but the importance of taking care of yourself before you can care for others cannot be overstated. If there’s anything I’ve learned at Columbia, it’s that this community is a lot more compassionate, open, and honest than you may realize. Reach out and tell someone you’re not okay. Reach out and ask someone if they’re okay. Your community is your lifeline. They will believe in you when you do not believe in yourself.
2. LISTEN: One of the most difficult things in music and in life is to truly listen, with your ears, heart, and soul. Too often, we hear only what we want to; ignorance and apathy excuse us from listening to what is painful, discouraging, and (sometimes) completely ridiculous. Realize the value of the person you’re speaking to while upholding your own. And then argue ;)
3. LOVE: your family, your friends, the city we’re lucky to live in, and yourself. Gratitude will carry you through even the most brutal all-nighters (keep the Red Bulls handy though). Creative minds all need a little support sometimes. Four years is wayyyy too little time to waste on people who disrespect and devalue you. Cultivate those who keep you afloat and don’t look back.
“Back in my day…” Many black Canada Geese disappeared in Cannons, you tripped outside Butler even if you weren’t tipsy, people still went to the Heights (lol), Michelle Obama was first lady, Ollie’s went up in flames, and Columbia still didn’t have performance space (yes I’m salty AF until something gets DONE people).
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: (stolen from Kanye, who probably stole it from someone else) “You must protect your ability to create at all costs.”
What was your favorite class at Columbia? Toni Morrison with Farah Griffin, Virginia Woolf with Edward Mendelson, Sociology of Work & Gender with Teresa Sharpe, the Great Keyboard Tradition with Magdalena Stern-Baczewska. They changed my life.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Was gonna insert that meme of the dude grating cheese from the wedge directly into his mouth, but I couldn’t find it. So, let’s leave it at, one is always more reliable than the other. I think you can guess which.
Whom would you like to thank? Literally everyone except bureaucratic administration people (seriously PrezBo you do not need a limo to drive you the 3 min walk from your house to Low) and the randos who thought I couldn’t do it and/or ghosted me BYEEE
One thing to do before graduating: Drop a piano through PrezBo’s roof and see how that changes his opinions on performance space…
Any regrets? Mistaking an assignment as more important than hanging with friends, never taking a class on CS ’cause ya girl can’t code for shit, not stealing more free food.
Photo via Cindy Liu