On patience and on hands.

Name, School, Major, Hometown: Lillian; CC; French and Statistics; Carrboro, North Carolina.

Claim to fame: Mild Bwog fame—Deputy Editor for two years, SWC strike coverage, many interviews with many people; being ⅓ of the string section of the Columbia Arab Music Ensemble; having the most “not like other girls” double-major combination.

Where are you going? Back South, where I belong, for the summer. Then Ann Arbor for my PhD because, honestly, I love school.

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

  1. Wherever you go, there you are—while the change in circumstances from arriving at Columbia alters so much, it won’t immediately alter you. If there are things you want to change about yourself, you absolutely can, but be aware that old anxieties and hangups die hard. Knowing what is “wrong with you” is not necessarily enough to mean you can “fix” it (go to therapy; it works!). Be patient with and forgiving to yourself.
  2. Your friends shouldn’t be the people you’re complaining about. There’s a limited number of times you can say “I love her, but…” before you should take stock of how deeply those caveats are affecting your relationship. Do the hard thing and have the conversations you need to.
  3. Have an activity you do with your hands, with people, and without a screen. Old people and “touch grass” people are right about this. I started learning violin the summer before my junior year, and it has been one of the most rewarding (and humbling) things I’ve done in college. There are so many possible extracurriculars to choose from; unfortunately, as much as I recommend it, Bwog—notoriously a blog—doesn’t count. Join Orchesis, join the Barnard Clay Collective, join the Columbia Bartending Agency, just have something that helps you feel present.

“Back in my day…” We turned in essays and problem sets in person, in little boxes outside of professors’ offices; labor movements were a thing of the past rather than the present; our gluttony extended only to five dining halls across both campuses, not the incredible number we have currently. 

Favorite Columbia controversy? “Unit of time” is a term that’s just in my vernacular now. 

What was your favorite class at Columbia? Top five: Queer Medieval France with Eliza Zingesser in Spring 2022. Pandemics in Francophone History and Literature with Madeleine Dobie and Thomas Dodman in Fall 2020. Elementary Stochastic Processes with Anne van Delft, because I’m a masochist, in Fall 2021. Ordinary Differential Equations with Tim Large in Spring 2023. Introduction to Japanese Civilization with Paul Kreitman in Spring 2021—I’m so glad I got to meet him in person and tell him how amazing this course was. In another world, I graduated as an EALAC major because of him.

Whom would you like to thank? Rachel, for absolutely everything. My parents and sister for being the only people I wanted to spend 18 pandemic months with. All my New York “parents,” but especially Leine and Ahmad, who will never read this but were instrumental in helping me keep it together every semester. Vic and Zara for their friendship, generosity, enthusiasm, and vibrance. Libby, for being a wonderful roommate and even better friend. Shoshana and Liv of Arab Music Ensemble for being so gracious and patient with me and always letting me know if my strings were out of tune. Puck the corgi, but more importantly, Sadie the incredible person, who has been such a light in my life. My French major compatriots, especially Rosa. Daniel for his kindness. Liz for their instruction and energy. Eliza Zingesser and Madeleine Dobie for their mentorship and belief. All the co-Deputies I’ve had, particularly Rania and Sahmaya. Bwog for the community and lifeline. The Department of Mathematics for making me realize I love math. That one tree outside of Philosophy. Rooibos tea. Garden of Eden and their student discount. Succession for airing when it did.

One thing to do before graduating: I do not want to be prescriptive! There is no “essential” Columbia experience. That being said: be really, truly annoying about at least one class. Be the first person to raise your hand when a question gets asked, show up to every office hours, find the readings or problem sets fun, and talk about it non-stop to your friends. Be respectful while you do it, of course, but throw yourself into learning and thinking and growing and try not to care about how it looks. We’re all here because we’re nerds. Accept and embody it!

Any regrets? None that matter.

Portrait via Lillian (taken by Jane Mok)