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Bwog » Senior Wisdom: Monique Harmon

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Senior Wisdom: Monique Harmon

Monique lets us hear some of her wise wisdom.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Monique Harmon, Columbia College, Economics and African American Studies, and the suburbs of Philly (Erdenheim, PA to be super exact)

Claim to fame: The other Black person in Dems (with Joshua Burton), the Columbia Elections Commission, CCSC, making every class I’ve taken at Columbia a way for me to talk about stuff I like in an academic setting (hmu for the paper I’m writing about “Old Town Road” and Black Western Aesthetics ;))

Where are you going? Downtown to join the world of finance.

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2023?

  1. GO ABROAD!! Though your friends will send you countless study abroad memes and make fun of you endlessly upon returning, ignore them and go anyway! I firmly believe that everyone should, if they can, leave Columbia for at least a semester. I learned so much about how other schools and cultures handle stress culture (spoiler alert: remarkably better than Columbia) and how important it is to remind yourself that Columbia and schoolwork should not be all-consuming. Most importantly, I learned how much I do actually love Columbia — I really missed having politically-engaged peers and small, seminar-style courses. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder, and for those of us who start to feel incredibly jaded by Columbia after a few years, studying abroad is a great way to remind yourself how lucky you are and how amazing this institution really is.
  2. Take random classes. Some of the best classes I’ve taken at Columbia have been in the most random departments for someone who’s an econ and Af Am major – namely the Dance, Visual Arts, and American Studies departments. These classes are so important for a variety of reasons. When’s the next time you’d be able to take a ballet class or an art class and get credit for it? I’ve also loved that these classes have allowed me to get to know people from those departments — people I otherwise wouldn’t have met. Once you get settled into your major(s), you begin to see the same people in every class. This can be good because it makes you more comfortable in those spaces, but it can also give you a myopic view of the students at Columbia. By branching out a bit, you get a better picture of how many amazing and interesting people exist at all corners of this university, and this has fully enriched my time at Columbia.
  3. Make the Core and your majors/minors work for you. Much has been written about the dominance of white, Western texts and cultures in the Core. It’s incredibly frustrating to not be able to learn about yourself even once you get to college. This is why I picked up an African American Studies major, but for those of us who cannot pick up an extra major, try to find professors who allow you academic freedom within the Core. In my various Core classes, I have written about, among many other things, how swimming and water itself have become sites of racialized trauma, Kendrick Lamar as a postcolonial philosopher, and the Black artist Barkley Hendricks. My economics senior seminar paper was about maternal and infant health disparities between Black and white women. Obviously, you may not get lucky with every professor (I’ve truly been #blessed), but there are ways to make these classes bearable.

“Back in my day…” Nussbaum used to be the go-to for bagels, Artopolis was the go-to for brunch, and Amigos used to be the go-to for fishbowls — RIP. Also Martin Shkreli went to 1020 once???

Favorite Columbia controversy? Gonna go with a wholesome one: that one time the administration wanted to put that ugly statue in front of Butler and everyone got so inexplicably upset.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: Uh… no?

What was your favorite class at Columbia? So many!! Printmaking 1: Silkscreen with Tomas Vu Daniel, Economics of Race in the US with Dan O’Flaherty, Issues of Race and Ethnicity in American Politics with Carlos Vargas-Ramos, Equity and Higher Education with Andrew Delbanco and Roger Lehecka, and the Radical Tradition in America with Eric Foner.

Special shoutouts to Silkscreen and Issues of Race and Ethnicity / Economics of Race in the US. I loved Silkscreen because it was so fun, I met so many awesome people, I got to help install a public art piece in Brooklyn, and it was the least stressful/competitive class I’ve taken at Columbia. Issues of Race and Ethnicity in American Politics and Economics of Race were so important to me because they challenged me to actually re-evaluate my beliefs and opened my eyes to just how messed up America is during every class, which I feel like are two things Columbia classes should force you to do.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? All of my favorite foods include cheese so…

Whom would you like to thank? My friends, my family, my amazing advisor, every wonderful Columbia staff member for making me feel at home, and the incredible professors who have actually taken an interest in my academic and personal growth and success.

One thing to do before graduating: Walk from the bottom of Manhattan to Columbia’s campus. Also, try to do something to make the community a bit better and more inclusive for those coming after you.

Any regrets? Not P/D/Fing Principles of Econ with Gulati and probably taking that as a sign that I shouldn’t be an econ major. Partially kidding, as econ was very kind to me in the last few years. Beyond that, no ragrets.

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3 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous This is wholesome

  • Dem Dems says:

    @Dem Dems My heart 😭😭😭😭😭

  • Zack Abrams says:

    @Zack Abrams “I don’t know a better person” – Oprah

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