The rest of our senior wisdoms are coming from Bwoggers, current and former. To kick things off, we have Bwog’s director of communications, Gabbie Lipson, who wants to dispense from tough love and remind us all that we’re our own best advocate.
Name, School, Major, Hometown: Gabbie Lipson, Barnard College, Psychology, Phoenix, Arizona
Claim to fame: I wrote Bwog’s apologies for the last 4 years as their Director of Communications. Got carpal tunnel for knitting during all of the NSOP activities I had to go to as an OL. I think I’m known for a few other
things but those get filed under infamous so we’ll just go with the above…
Where are you going? On a grand adventure! No, seriously, I’m still working out my plans but looking forward to seeing where life takes me. Though it will probably have something to do with studying babies. But if anyone reading this wants to hire me, I wouldn’t be opposed!
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2022?
1. You are your own best advocate.
There are nearly 11,000 undergraduates at Columbia University (that includes SEAS, GS and Barnard, don’t get snippy with me, I’m making a point). We come to this school and operate under the expectation that every administrator, professor, and fellow student has our own best interests at heart. And in theory they do! But they can’t seriously think about all 11,000 of us individually at once. So advocate for yourself. There are people who will help you succeed but you have to make yourself known to them. I wanted to work in a lab but I couldn’t get funding and the hours interfered with classtime. I convinced my advisor and the department for long enough that they allowed me to take an independent study under my advisor even though I was working in a completely different lab. My advisor now takes the extra time to function as my liaison and works with my PI so that I can do what I love for academic credit. I wanted to present my research abroad but couldn’t find the funding. I poked around a bit, asked for some guidance and now, guess who’s going to Prague? This gal! The people at this school want to help. But they won’t know how or even that you need help until you stand in front of them and tell them what you need and why. You have a powerful voice, use it and then keep on using it.
2. If you don’t like where you’re going, stop, reassess and change course.
This advice comes from my mother. As she likes to put it, if you were driving and you realized you were lost, you wouldn’t keep driving. You’d pull over, find a map and then take a different route! She is absolutely right. I have found myself entrenched in many situations where something felt wrong. It took me too long to learn that I could change my circumstances. By the end of my junior year, I was absolutely miserable. I was over committed and needed a beat to figure out which commitments were in my best interest… So I stopped. I quit my position. I bailed on the internship rat race and I went to work in Italy for two months. I am a FAR better person for it. I learned more from my summer abroad than I would have chasing my “dream” in New York. I have healthier friendships and found the time to do things I’ve always wanted to do since quitting. Learning how to reassess is hard, it takes a lot of self-forgiveness because it means that the initial path you were on has either run its course or was the wrong choice. And no one likes to be wrong. But I have gained so much self respect since learning how to do this.
3. Be a faucet, not a drain. (ok, sometimes its ok to be a drain)
All of my wisdom is tough love, sorry guys. We talk about stress culture on this campus quite a bit and for good reason. But part of the problem is us. We dump our stress on one another and expect that to be the solution (read above for my position on self-advocating). Then, we’re surprised when our friends have melt downs and can’t handle our stress let alone their own! Yes, we should absolutely be able to call on our friends in times of crisis. But it’s also important to note the difference between dumping and talking. Talk to your friends! Dump on your therapists (Furman and CPS, you need to hire more, better therapists so that we can actually do this effectively). I promise it will save both you and your friendships. Take this metaphor a step further though. Give back to the people around you. We all have tough weeks and the best thing we can do for one another when someone is struggling is recognize them. Tell them that you see them and you respect the hard work they’re putting forth. Daffodils are only $2 at Trader Joes and they’re guaranteed to make someone smile. On more of a budget than that? Send a supportive text! Only standard messaging rates apply to that one! Take the time to stop when you see someone crying in the stairwell. Offer them a tissue or a hug then be on your way. You will inevitably be a drain at some point in your college career. That’s totally fine! Just make sure to spend as much time as you can being the faucet.
Bonus advice- make your bed, it’ll help you feel more productive!
“Back in my day…” Barnard needed a JJ swipe daddy to get good chicken tenders, Maggie was alive and well on both twitter and campus, there were only nine ways to know things. Lots has changed but change isn’t inherently bad!
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: I once spent 45 minutes explaining why penne was a garbage noodle. I only stopped because the party was over.
What was your favorite class at Columbia? Psychology of Creativity with Professor Stokes. Her theories on needing constraints to be more creative are fascinating and a ton of fun to test out in class. The syllabus was also full of really special books I never would have picked up myself. And Stokes is an all-around badass. Runner up is the Toddler Center, I actually think it’s the greatest class at Columbia University but it’s definitely not one I’d recommend to the faint of heart.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I don’t believe in making hard life decisions until I am absolutely forced to. So when the day comes where I have to decide between oral sex and a beautiful, soft brie, I will write to Bwog with my final decision as an addendum to this senior wisdom.
Whom would you like to thank? Wow, this is a long list. Huge thank you to my family for their love, support and endlessly thoughtful care packages. Thank you for making fun of me so much in my youth that I learned how to laugh at myself. Thank you to my incredible roommates and dear friends. We made a home together on Reid 3 and have since been lucky enough to welcome more wonderful people into our chosen family. You all push me to educate myself, challenge myself and enjoy myself in ways I am so grateful for. Thank you to my little Greek life family, you guys keep me giggling and remind me that the bonds of friendship are enduring. I owe endless thanks to my mentors, Tovah Klein and Kim Noble. Thank you for providing me with every opportunity to fall in love with my work. Thank you for showing me just how little I know and what a blessing that is. Thank you for letting me create the academic experience I could never have dreamed I’d be so lucky to have.
One thing to do before graduating: Spend a last afternoon people watching on Low. Bonus points if there’s ice cream. Preferably with Closing Time playing on loop in the background.
Any regrets? I regret not being more involved on Barnard’s campus. I regret (yikes) not going to more frat parties as a freshman and sophomore when I had energy and youth on my side. Most of all, I regret never trick or treating in Butler. It was a college dream of mine….