The salmon at the Faculty House deserves all the shout-outs.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: William Yuen Yee, Columbia College, Political Science and East Asian Studies, Los Angeles 

Claim to fame: Winning 7 Broadway show lotteries in my first semester at Columbia. The more I think about it, why didn’t I enter Powerball back then? 

Where are you going? Hopefully somewhere in Europe. After that, law school. 

What are 3 things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2026?

  1. Enter Broadway lotteries! BroadwayDirect is a great website, as well as the Ham4Ham Lottery for Hamilton. Don’t forget to take advantage of the free Urban New York program at Columbia. Even if you don’t have a ticket, you can often get one by waiting on standby. 
  1. Go to talks and lectures on campus. Columbia is a thriving intellectual hub in one of the world’s most dynamic cities. Don’t take it for granted. We have incredible speakers visiting campus all the time, as well as fascinating lectures and panels held by our different graduate schools, centers, and institutes. Since I’m a nerd when it comes to international relations and US-China relations, I often attended events with the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. There’s something for everyone here!  
  1. Don’t compare your blooper reel to everyone else’s highlight tape. Going to school in New York City is not easy. There’s pressure to be well dressed, not stressed, and the best—all at once. You’ll look around and see classmates who boast the flashiest Instagram stories and somehow make Phi Beta Kappa. But know that Columbia admitted you because they saw the ability to succeed here within you, and that you deserve to be on this campus as much as anyone else.

“Back in my day…” Columbia had three dining halls, and Hungarian Pastry Shop only took cash. And “zoom” was just a verb that meant quick travel or movement. 

Favorite Columbia controversy? The ongoing heated debates over which halal cart is the best. If you think this is some trivial matter, well, you might be right… but that’s beside the point. 

What was your favorite class at Columbia? China’s Foreign Relations or American Constitutional History. Can’t go wrong with either. 

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? A wise philosopher once said: “You can’t make everyone happy. You’re not cheese.” 

Whom would you like to thank? The friends who make navigating this chaotic world easier, the professors and graduate students who challenged me to reach beyond my academic potential, and my family who’ve been by my side since day one. Additional shout-outs to Bombay Frankies at Roti Roll, acai bowls at Café East, the halal cart by the law school, and the incredible salmon at Faculty House. 

One thing to do before graduating: Perform at Postcrypt’s open mic night! I don’t want to hear that you have no talents… 

Any regrets? No regrets. Thanks for a fantastic ride, Columbia. I’ve loved every minute. 

Portrait via William