Elena’s greatest piece of advice: the best place to meet Elliot Page is on a Riverside Park mental health walk.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Elena Messinger, Columbia College, Political Science, NYC

Claim to fame: Impromptu storytelling around town (bare your soul @custorytelling on IG) and being mistaken for the Barnard Zine Librarian (it happened one time but packed a punch).

Where are you going? Hungarian Pastry Shop.

What are three things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2027?

  1. Transfer if you want to; it’s okay to leave!!!! It’s a myth that somehow through the college application process we inherently land at the “place we’re meant to be.” Just because we are constantly told it is a feat to be here, you should not be in pain! The college I attended freshman year did not work for me in many ways—the size, the social life, the location, etc.—so I returned home to New York. Yet, I can easily imagine an alternative world where this place was the problem (as it often is… a problem). If something about Columbia is not working on a deeper level, you are not a failure/not worthy of being here/not taking advantage of the opportunity/not seeing some bigger picture. Sometimes it’s the college, not you! Also, befriend transfer students—they have some of the best perspectives on college and most interesting paths of people here (biased).
  2. Theater doesn’t have to be miserable to be good. Vulnerably, I am a theater kid—always have been, always will be. Even in high school, I resented the premise that theater environments have to be toxic in the pursuit of beautiful, groundbreaking art. Many people, as expected, carry that mentality into college. Of course, theater can require great effort and hard work. But, it should fundamentally be fun!!! You should laugh!!! You should like the process!!!! If someone—especially another student—tells you that hellish rehearsals are necessary, they are lying. As a life-long prop master it kills me to say it: actors have rights.
  3. If you go for enough mental health walks in Riverside Park (approx. two per day), eventually you’ll meet Elliot Page! Also, if you meet Elliot Page, do NOT forget to thank him for all he did for people with dyed hair in the 2009 sports dramedy “Whip It.”

“Back in my day…” I had long hair, Max Caffe was real, the Barnard mascot was girls kissing.

Favorite Columbia controversy? My breakup.

What was your favorite class at Columbia? I loved Asian American Lit with Denise Cruz, US Lesbian & Gay History with George Chauncey, Contact Improv with Colleen Thomas (dancer reveal…), the seminar Anthropology of Revolution with Anna Reumert, and Sculpture I with Sable Smith. Taking art classes as a non-artist was wonderful & pushed me creatively in great ways. Also, I wish I took a class with Sarah Haley (specifically, Abolitionist Feminism)! Do anything you can to counteract the Core.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Both.

Whom would you like to thank?
People: Olive. Larkin. Everyone named Lily, Emma, or C/Katherine. Eden. Julia. Makoto. Shirley. Emily. Sofia. Leul. Adelina. Josie. Mo. Cole. Annaliese. Lula. Terceira. My family. My mom. All 2019 transfer students. Nora Ephron. My roommate’s cat.

Places: Milstein 1. Postcrypt Coffeehouse. Sakura Park. My childhood bedroom. Williamstown, MA. Portland, OR. California (generally). 188 Claremont Ave. Housing Works Book Cafe. Acadia National Park. The Alfred E. Quigley Black Box Theatre. Bagel stores.

Things: Dr. Ride’s American Beach House. CU Storytelling. The phrase “the feminine urge to.” They/them pronouns. Table for Two. The F train. Dark ‘n’ stormies. YouTubers circa 2011. Cornell University. Vassar College. Lamps. @thirdsisterentertainment. Pride and Prejudice (1995). Half-sour pickles. An elaborate theme. My dad’s annotated copy of Detransition Baby.

One thing to do before graduating: Take at least one gorgeous, incredibly public nap.

Any regrets? My political science major <3

Elena via Elena