Take more naps and don’t sweat it so much.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Joseph Kurtz, SEAS, Mechanical Engineering, Albion, MI

Claim to fame: If I had a nickel for every time I did a virtual Varsity Show, I’d have 2 nickels.. Which isn’t a lot but it’s weird that it happened twice. You’ve also probably seen me skateboarding around campus, and I did a backflip on the Columbia Instagram once. 

Where are you going? Home! Then Carnegie Mellon to get a Masters in MechE

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2025?

1) Engineering is a team sport! Same goes for life at Columbia, in general. Classes will teach you a lot academically and the city will be here if you want to explore the lives of others for 4 years, but ultimately the people you meet here are the ones who will help you learn the most about yourself.

2) Take breaks, take naps, and make sure to grab a snack every now and then. Chances are you know how to work hard already to get things done, so when things get tough, trust yourself enough to take care of yourself first and work hard within your limits.

3) There’s so much to do here that it can seem wrong to not be doing anything or tempting to try and do everything, but don’t sweat it. If there’s an event or a new club meeting that interests you, by all means feel free to go for it! Just know that if you sleep through it or show up to your friend’s birthday party instead, that’s okay too. Opportunities come and go, and new ones pop up in their place. So long as you keep yourself open to the possibilities around you, and honor commitments you make along the way, a healthy balance of saying “yes” and “no” will go a long way towards having a fulfilling time without the stress. 

“Back in my day…” StressBusters gave the best backrubs! The Drinking Band had a marching problem. Bottle Guy wore a mask before it was cool

Favorite Columbia controversy? The Columbia Confessions posts after every PrezBo email this summer. The sheer number of people trying to decipher “a unit of time” was great.

What was your favorite class at Columbia?

Engineering: Intro to Robotics with Hod Lipson. They sent everyone a 3D printer and I made a walking duck robot!

Theater: Problems in Design. Never apologize, never explain

Other: Beginning Fiction Workshop! Like telling stories around a campfire once a week.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? *In a bad Italian accent* Life without cheese would be no gouda.

Whom would you like to thank? Mom and Dad, for your trust, love, and support. Mary, for keeping in touch, even when I’m really bad at it. Ty and Daniel, for being better roommates than I could have dared to ask for. All the suitemates I’ve had, for making a dorm feel like a home. Dr. Yesilevskiy, for always being a professor who cared. The people who played with their dogs on the Butler lawns early in the morning, so I could crack a smile while trying not to fail ODE. The Varsity Show, for so many laughs and so much love. All the people who gave me hugs (when that was a thing), they brightened countless cloudy days.

One thing to do before graduating: Stay up until 3am, but not because you’re working. Do it talking about life and laughing in good company.

Any regrets? Nah. “A hundred bad days made a hundred good stories. A hundred good stories made me interesting at parties” -AJR

Image via Joseph