Luck was a lady for Prem. #NoRagrets.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Prem Thakker, Columbia College, History, Grand Forks, North Dakota

Claim to fame: That One Guy From North Dakota (Spoiler: It’s His Whole Personality!) Columbia Dining Residency Fellow. The voice you heard in the crowd the other day incessantly repeating, “Oh, sorry, oh, sorry, oh so––.”

Where are you going? Ohhhhh, wouldn’t you like to know WEATHER BOY

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

  1. Whether you wanna be a doctor, computer scientist, lawyer, writer, actor, businessperson, or whatever—you don’t need to do things supposedly only relevant to those fields!!! It feels intuitive to think that if you want to be a good doctor or lawyer or computer scientist or whatever, you just gotta put your head down and only do what seems Doctorly or Lawyerly or Data-y or whatever. OR, maybe you’re thinking Ha, I’m smart enough to know what he’s saying. I’m gonna try so many things and explore so many academic disciplines, so many clubs, so many social groups. Variety is the spice of life! Good for you if you think that! It’s very likely that the imposing monotony of college will still maybe prevent you from embracing that spirit. DON’T LET IT!!! Life is too sublime to allow yourself to become constrained by one vision of yourself. Practically speaking, you don’t need to pick a major in order to graduate. Just pick some academic concentration(s). Learn what you think you “need,” and allow yourself to explore the classes you’d typically look at and think “huh, maybe in another life…” ….because F*** THAT! You have THIS life, baby! Embrace it! Grant yourself the gift of living the widest, most curious life you can!
  2. Don’t let things make more of a mark on you than you make on them. If you let the things you do (theater, academics, professional pursuits, athletics, etc.) swallow you, that’s not awesome! So learn from and love all the things around you, but don’t let them overtake you. The things you do—sports, music, activities, work, academics, etc.—are a part of you. They are not You, singularly.
  3. We (Columbia students especially) are often very goal-oriented. Goals are great in their own right. Goals probably got most of us here! But goals are also very overrated. I think intentions, rather than goals, are the way to go. To imagine in a broad sense what you want—the kind of life you hope to lead, the kinds of things you’d like to do, the way you’d like to be around other people—and to then let the chips come to you…that’s a pretty darn nice way of living, I think. This way, you’re still being intentional with where you’re going, but you don’t develop the tunnel vision that comes with very specific goals. 

You may think you know exactly what you want—happy for you! …but this universe is massive and unpredictable and full of an unbelievable amount of possibility and potential that might not always sprout from meticulous calculation and planning. And some of the loveliest, most beautiful outcomes result from allowing yourself to remain open to them.

“Back in my day…” COÖP was still a full-on program. JJ’s was open 22 hours a day. Miss both! Was hoping to do a challenge where I stayed in JJ’s for all 22 of those glorious hours, but unfortunately couldn’t make it happen during my time. If JJ’s ever opens up again to those hours, and someone would like to respectfully make this “JJ’s Challenge” happen, please do! I’m sure you’ll have a blast, and the lovely dining folks will too (shoutout beautiful people like Gleinys and Yendi!).

Favorite Columbia controversy? Honestly no favorites because they’re all usually frustrating or wack or just disappointing. But, the venmo-me-for-my-emotional-labor one sticks around…I think it hopefully encouraged us all to think more deeply about how we treat other people – both close friends and strangers – and hopefully was maybe a net-positive at the end of the day?? Hopefully!

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Technology, Religion, and the Future with David Kittay. Which is an excellent pairing with Brian Greene’s Origins & Meaning. Any energy/environmental class with Michael Gerrard or Paul Gallay. If you are able to have Giovanni Lovisetto for ArtHum, congratulations! Hamid Dabashi reminds you that learning can manifest in so many different forms—film, reading, art, all while sharing those experiences with wine and snacks and friends. History of Sport and Society with Frank Guridy. Karl Jacoby’s environmental history course. Never got to take any poetry classes, but heard they’re great and I do think everyone should take one if they can! Words are beautiful after all.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Veganism, or at least some form of it, is the path forward. 

Whom would you like to thank? My family, Sylvie, Marco, Matt, Julia, Nora, Mollie, Izzy, Yiannis, Henri, Lulu, Meryl, Evelyn, Pedro, Jaine, Jane, Carolyn, Gabe, Josh, Robert, Lily, Jackie, Chloe, Venice, Rachel, Maria, Anthony, Joey, Drew, Aida, Zach, Bassel, Mari, Brett, Peter, Trevor, Swat, Jess, Camryn, Sam, Catherine, John, Sila, Andrea, Rommel, Drew, Erik, Morgan, Elly, Matt, Grant, Lord, David, Mina, Leo, Sofia, COÖP, Latenite, and CBA.


One thing to do before graduating: See below

Any regrets? Nah baby. I’m lucky. And I hope and trust you will be too.

Photo of Prem via himself