The wisdom to know when to prioritize your health over a “conventional” timeline! We love to see it.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Sara Kowdley, Columbia College, Political Science (in spirit, Religion/History), Seattle, WA

Claim to fame: Matriarch of Greenborough; South Asian Feminisms Alliance (SAFA); vanishing after freshman year 

I entered with the Class of 2020 (with whom my heart still lies) but took a yearlong medical leave from 2017-18. I know that doing so is not an option for everyone, and it certainly wasn’t an easy decision for me, but it was easily the best choice I’ve ever made. There is nothing wrong with straying from a “conventional” timeline and absolutely no shame in taking more than 4 years to graduate. Your health is more important— take your time.

Where are you going? Staying in NYC for the summer. After that, who knows! But eventually, I suspect, back to the West Coast where I belong… It’s only a matter of time

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

  1. Give yourself the space to really explore different departments and classes, especially at first! Keep an open mind and take some risky/odd classes before you commit yourself to a course of study
  2. When you’re immersed in them, social groups/dynamics/hierarchies — and the pressure to define yourself in relation to them — can feel unbelievably consuming. But they are meaningless! It is not worth your time to pour effort into cultivating friendships that are not mutually gratifying, nourishing, and appreciative. That’s all that matters or lasts beyond the bubble 
  3. That balsamic glaze at Ferris is really really good. And so versatile! And the little soy sauce bottles— so cute! Steal that shit!!! Just take it!!

“Back in my day…”  You could touch your friends, even breathe on them!! Imagine..

Favorite Columbia controversy? See:

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Interpreting Buddhist Yoga: Hermeneutics East, West, Quantum with Professor David Kittay (tied with the other two classes he teaches). Prof. Kittay is a remarkable teacher and human, and I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that his classes fundamentally changed the way I move through reality. Even if, unlike me, you aren’t expressly interested in Buddhism, I can’t urge you strongly enough to take at least one of them.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Pass the nooch

Whom would you like to thank?
My parents!!!!!!!! And chosen family of dear friends, who amaze me constantly, love me relentlessly, and bring meaning to my life — I am very lucky. Prof. Kittay and Prof. Judith Russell, for their wisdom, support, and mentorship. Greenborough for showing me real community, feeding me, and being my home for 1.75 years. And the pharmacists at Duane Reade, for dependably supplying my ADHD medication. I owe it all to you

One thing to do before graduating: Take the Staten Island ferry (it’s free!) around sunset with some pals and some hazy IPAs — bliss :)

Any regrets? Honestly, not going out more while I could. I may be 22, but during the pandemic my lifestyle has aged to a hot 65, and I’m dubious the desire/willpower to go out will ever return. Here’s to hoping!

Zooming from Low Steps via Sara