From taking classes outside of your interests, to venturing outside alone, Zara’s Senior Wisdom is a tale of exploration and self-discovery.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Zara Tayebjee, Barnard College, Political Science and Statistics, Nairobi, Kenya

Claim to fame: Thinking a genuine halal dining concern was a joke and replying haha in the Spiritual Reflections group chat. It was not funny after that. (Also P.S. Ferris if the spatula touches the pepperoni pizza and then the cheese, the cheese or whatever else it touches is, in fact, not halal anymore).

Where are you going? To the beach, then up a mountain. After? Your guess is as good as mine.

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

  1. Take as many classes outside of your interests as possible, you never know what you’ll find interesting till you try it.
  2. As a Freshman don’t be afraid to go to events, club meetings, the dining hall, etc. alone. You just might find some of your best friends that way!
  3. Take some time out for self care every week, even if it’s just a 40 minute Power Nap.

“Back in my day…” Absolute Bagels only cost $3.90 and you could eat inside, JJs was open for 23 hours a day, Dos Torros was just a truck.

Favorite Columbia controversy? When Barnard got called out on their portion sizes in the dining halls.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? My first year seminar, Imagining Equality Between the Sexes. Loved the class, loved the professor, loved the little dog who used to run around outside during that class. COVID only served to make it more fun as our final paper was made into a creative project and grades were all P/F.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? I have been known to eat sliced cheddar straight from the package so… make of that what you will.

Whom would you like to thank? My parents and brother for their support. My suitemates Rebecca, Sara, Nana, Fatima and Patience for the laughs. And Lillian Rountree for fighting alongside me for my life in every single stats class.

One thing to do before graduating: Go to the cat cafe!

Any regrets? I want to say no, but taking Arabic to fulfill the language requirement was a real L.

Portrait via Zara