Grace was there when Mel’s still existed.

Name, School, Major Hometown:

Grace, Barnard College, English and Creative Writing, Queens, NY

Claim to fame:

I probably reviewed the play you were in. You might also know me from 4×4, CJLC, Twitter, or your English class. 

Where are you going?

Nowhere. New York can’t get rid of me that easily. 

What are three things you learned at Columbia and would like to share with the Class of 2028?

  1. You can’t avoid the necessity of putting yourself out there. If you get rejected from a club, remember that the person on the other side of the rejection email is someone basically your own age who doesn’t really know what they’re doing. Find opportunities that welcome everyone—there are so many events that are open to all and you’ll make a lot of club leaders happy by showing up. The people who you think are cool probably think you’re cool too, so text them. Everyone likes being invited out for a coffee. 
  2. Work! In as many capacities as you can! Do internships, campus jobs, food service, babysitting, tutoring, research, random paid studies. Getting paid to do things builds character, keeps you busy, makes you feel useful, affords you a sense of power and responsibility, and enriches you in multiple senses. When you have a job, or jobs, there are people who are depending on you. I firmly believe that being depended on is an excellent way to build self-esteem.  
  3. You’re probably not going to stop chasing prestige just because I tell you to. But never accept prestige as an automatic source of authority. Prestigious institutions often have complex, morally dubious histories and endowments and governing boards and interests to whom they are beholden. This goes not just for universities but for organizations you may hope to be employed by. Do your research and stay in touch with your own values. Don’t get yourself into a situation where putting prestige above everything else ends up inhibiting your personal freedoms. 

“Back in my day…” Max Caffé existed and it was the best. Mel’s existed and it was kind of fun sometimes. Milstein had coffee. We had to swab our noses twice a week. You couldn’t get into campus buildings and classes were onli–oh, wait.

Favorite Columbia lore? Venmo Me For My Emotional Labor was technically before my time, but it has occupied so much of my brainspace that I have to shout it out. Also, freshman year being entirely online engendered some crazy social media discourse (going to the Met is problematic?). 

What was your favorite class at Columbia?

Introduction to Sexuality Studies with Jack Halberstam. Whiteness in American Literature with Kristin Carter. US Lesbian and Gay History with George Chauncey. Contemporary American Jewish Women’s Literature with Agnieszka Legutko. Literature and Empire with Erica Drennan. Sonnets and Elegies with Erik Gray. The Art and Craft of the Diary with Jhumpa Lahiri. 

Whom would you like to thank?

Frankie, for everything. My friends. My family. Diego. Bwog. The English Department, the Hungarian Pastry Shop, the Book Culture sale table, and anyone who’s ever granted me an extension.

One thing to do before graduating?

Go to senior night at least once. Why not? 

Any regrets?

Yes, of course. So many things! Never going to office hours, despite the dozens of Senior Wisdomers who told me I should. Not taking a creative writing workshop during my first two years here. Not being forceful enough about getting Bwog to make sweatshirts that said “Barnumbia” on them. Not taking more of Margaret Vandenburg’s classes before she retired. Not fulfilling my Thinking Digitally requirement until my last semester. Not graduating early.

Grace via Grace