Self-care is key.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Giuliana (Gigi) Russo; Barnard; Medical Anthropology; Leicester, Massachusetts

Claim to fame: Being seen walking around campus carrying too many things entirely and visibly struggling. Additionally, Singing/Beatboxing/President-ing in Bacchantae, Acting/Writing/Directing in The Varsity Show.

Where are you going? Back to the tunnels under Pupin, where I have always belonged.  Then happy hour at The Heights. Then back to the tunnels. 

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

  1. Find places that you really like and become a regular. If those spots are way off campus, that’s great. If those spots happen to be a burger bar and a pizza place that are directly next to each other, that’s also okay. Having somewhere to go where people know your name is so comforting when this school and city feels larger than life and you feel wholly unimportant. Making friends with other people who don’t go to Columbia is also important. Find a space where you feel like a person and not just a student.
  2. Being stressed and overworked isn’t cool. Zero sleep and irregular eating isn’t normal. Your health (mental health very much included) is more important than any commitment at Columbia. Your classes, your professors, your student groups can wait—prioritize being well.
  3. It’s okay to not know what your major means. When people ask you, just smile and say you’re at a liberal arts school.

Back in my day… I could go to JJs at the respectable hour of 5 am and demolish mozzarella sticks in a euphoric gin-induced state, in the comfort of my own goddamn school.

Favorite Columbia controversy? The Bacchanal move to T*****l F**e but being too plastered by 4pm to go anyway.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Barnard First Year Seminar: Intimate Partnerships with Peggy Ellsberg. She taught us that glass slippers are a metaphor for tight vaginas and gave us a recipe for the greatest apple pie ever. Choreographing Race with Seth Stewart Williams. Take this class, I beg you. Seth is the greatest lecturer I’ve ever encountered, and the syllabus is absolutely stacked.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? My emergency mental health intervention is eating an entire bag of Sargento shredded cheddar jack. Do the math.

Whom would you like to thank? In alphabetical order,

Adam, Bacchantae, Caroline&Anna&Ziggy&Zora, Dance Majors, Ethiopia, Frog & Toad lesbians, GS Milvets, Hitachi products, Iron levels for being low, Joker (2019) fanatic Eliza Staples, Koronet’s Jumbo Vodka Slice, Lerner 5th Floor, Mel’s, Nice Guys for Finishing Last, Oedipus Complexes, Panic Attacks on Alma, Q**** (a term of endearment), Riverside Park Swings @112th, SHARP (sexy, smooth, soulful), The Great State of Minnesota, Undercooked Dining Hall Penne, Varsity Show, Whoever I’ve missed, XMAS16!, Yerba Mate, Zoe

One thing to do before graduating: Sit down and make yourself a bucket list. You already know what you want to do. Prioritize doing it. Schedule time to be young and make mistakes in the same way you schedule meetings for your groups and study time in Butler. You have 4 years here, and they fly by—but they are yours.

Any regrets? I gave way too much time to people (read: men) who didn’t respect me or value me. If I could go back, I would tell young Gigi that if you have to fight them to get them to see you as human, they aren’t worth your time. Also, went swimming in the phallic fountains on Low while drunk in Spring of 2021. Would not recommend, likely radioactive. xx

Portrait via Gigi