Gabriel is the first person in the history of the world to actually thank the MTA! Get this New Yorker a medal pronto!

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Gabriel Gonzalez, Political Science, Miami, FL

Claim to fame: I was probably one of your tour guides, or you saw me in some of your Days on Campus programming and online materials, was a big part of CIRCA/Model UN on campus, and some may say I’m a niche internet Twitter micro-celebrity as well ;)

Where are you going? Forward

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

  1. Take advantage of NYC. Go out and explore, make use of programs like the Passport to Museums and Urban New York. Go out for walks, study in coffee shops, spend time in parks and walk along the water. CitiBike through the streets, familiarize yourself with public transit and try not to take an uber if you can help it. New York is full of such amazing experiences and adventures and your day can end up in a wildly different place than you expected if you’re adventurous enough. Lots of people spend most of their time on campus and it can be hard to get out of the Morningside/Columbia bubble but doing so can really improve your time here and teach you more about yourself. Get out and GO.
  2. Take initiative. Make happen the experiences that you want for yourself. Put yourself out there and join clubs and organizations that you’re interested in, because it’s a good way to meet new people and explore your interests. Be the one to suggest outings with friends or movie nights or things of that nature—a lot of times it may seem like no one wants to do anything but honestly sometimes it’s just that no one is comfortable taking that first step to set it up. (Of course any healthy friendship or friend group should have this responsibility rotate but you get the picture—if you want to go somewhere or do something with friends, don’t sit around waiting for someone to ask to do it with you). Apply for internships and jobs (this comes later though, no need to worry about this right now) even if you don’t feel like you’re *exactly* qualified because at the end of the day it’s up for them to decide that, not you—even though impostor syndrome is real, remember you’re here for a reason and you’re probably very qualified.
  3. Take care of yourself. The past few years have been rough on us ALL, and Columbia can be a very high-intensity place. Be sure to take some time for yourself and to make sure that you are getting enough rest, physically and mentally. Reach out to your friends, reach out to your family, make sure that you have a support system in place. There is no shame in taking care of yourself and in relying on communities you are a part of to help you through any rough spots—that’s what community is FOR. Ask for help, ask for that extension, make use of the P/D/F policies. Have a healthy relationship with your academic advisors and never feel pressured to do anything (academic or otherwise) that you’re uncomfortable with. 

“Back in my day…” JJ’s Place was open 22 hours a day, you didn’t have to swipe into every building on campus, and no one had ever heard of DUO mobile.

Favorite Columbia controversy? Venmo Me for My Emotional Labor

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Russia and the West with Dr. Kimberly Marten and Freedom of Speech and the Press.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? It depends on what your meaning of the word ‘or’ is, but either way, a certain someone I know would have no problem with this question. 

Whom would you like to thank? I’d like to thank the Academy…but seriously, Daniella, Mwandeyi, Lizzie, Olivia, and Riley from being there from the beginning, and Renzo and Federick for being slightly earlier to the game. Suite/Lounge/Table culture (Riley, Olivia, Abhi, Paul K., Wesley) and CIRCA squad (Mwan, Lizzie, Anjali, Maria E., Astrid, Rose, Janine) for keeping me (mostly) sane during the pandemic and beyond, and then also of course Mackenzie, Caroline, Maria P., Paul S., Juan, Dr. Kimberly Marten, Dr. Patricia Grieve, the AO/URC Team, masks and vaccines, my parents, Romulus, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the MTA. 

One thing to do before graduating: Walk down Broadway from the top of Manhattan all the way to South Ferry! NYC (and Manhattan specifically) has so many little neighborhoods within it, each with their own character and hidden corners so it would be really cool to see how the feel of each area changes all along the same street. Plus, it’s one good way to say goodbye to the city I love so much!

Any regrets? Non, rien de rien :)