Omar Khan starts off our Friday Senior Wisdoms, reminding us all to stop and smell the flowers (or eat Cheez-its and observe).
Name, School, Major, Hometown: Omar Khan; Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies; New York City
Claim to fame: I talked a lot about South Asian politics and mental health to anyone who would listen and some administrators who wouldn’t.
Where are you going? To live out of New York City for the first time in 22 years!
What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2022?
1. Clean up after yourself. First of all, you’re an adult. Second of all, Columbia’s staff does so much for us already–don’t make their lives even harder.
2. Take classes in disciplines you’ve never explored before– it’ll at the very least give you a world class education in something you didn’t know anything about, and at the most may radically change your major like it did mine.
3. Talk about mental health! I have talked about mental health almost every chance I’ve gotten, but I think real, impactful conversation about mental health (and not just uncomfortable depression memes) can have a really powerful interpersonal impact and help change campus culture for the better. Older classmates opening up about their experiences with mental health issues helped me feel comfortable being vulnerable and realize that I wasn’t the only one struggling– and that struggling isn’t something to be ashamed of.
“Back in my day…” My roommate and I were minding our own business and eating his bulk Cheezits when Ollie’s caught fire across the street from our window.
Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: No? How is this question still happening.
What was your favorite class at Columbia? A History of Environment and Health in South Asia and Beyond with Kavita Sivaramakrishnan! Don’t be fooled by the class’ long name– it’s a seminar that cemented my interest in the medical humanities. Narrative, Health, and Social Justice with Sayantani Dasgupta is the first time I’ve shared some of the rawest parts of myself in an academic setting. Finally, Contemporary Civilizations with Nicole Callahan– if you don’t believe me, listen to an opaque awards committee.
Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Only one is halal before marriage….
Whom would you like to thank? Everyone who’s ever taught me anything here, which is almost all of my peers and very few of my professors.
One thing to do before graduating: Go to an outer borough and not just to go to Williamsburg. Also go to Broadway Au Lait!! My favorite coffee shop a little bit off campus.
Any regrets? I was nice to people I should’ve been mean to and mean to people I should’ve been nice to. Also, I wish I spent less time in Lerner and more time in my own bed. Finally, a classic, I wish I went to office hours more.
Image via Omar Khan