Category: Profiles

Meet Perrin. Perrin, a current first year in Columbia Engineering  from Saratoga Springs, NY is a prospective Computer Science and Applied Physics double-major also planning to study abroad in his time year. We sat down with him to learn more about him and his unique interests and passions.

What are you current passions? How do you think you’ll pursue them on campus?

I am a hardcore quantum computer scientist. I’ve worked with people in the field already within it. People get taken aback by the world quantum, but I wish they wouldn’t. It’s just a way to make really fast computers that are super useful. I took a lot of weekend classes and attended at the institute for quantum computing in Canada. They built the biggest quantum computer and I took a selfie with it. I learned all this math, physics, and quantum computing in a short amount of time. I was one of 3 from the US who got to attend and I made friends with other students from around the world.

I’m working to get a research position here with a person about to get their PhD. I would be working on quantum computing algorithms and simulations.

Of everything you’ve worked on, volunteered for, and studied, what are you most proud of?

I juggled four paid jobs at once in high school. Since they were all different days and I had my regular high school studies, this was something I was proud of. I lived on my own for about a year so I took the jobs to pay for my apartment and life. I worked at Starbucks, I was a software engineer for two years, IT intern at school, and a paid sound designer at my local theater. There were times they were all at the same time and then they started cycling.

I think I accidentally stumbled on computer science in 8th grade. I think I found a programming site online and started playing with it for fun. And then I really liked physics so I had an epiphany in 10th grade that the two blend together so nicely.

What are you interested in studying here? Why?

I am a double major in SEAS with a study abroad in London. I will be on a theoretical track in computer science and an applied physics major. In this I get to also be an applied math minor just by taking the two majors. I am planning to stay next summer to do my own research through CUSP and I think I will be able to take some classes over the summer so I never have to take more than 5 required classes. There’s a couple of classes that I have some experience in that I can take over the summer to make my life a little easier.

What are you most nervous/anxious about (in regards to college, Columbia, NYC, etc)?

My school was good but not spectacular. Knowing I am going in against people with such an amazing amount of preparation is a lot. And I know it evens out after a semester or two, but it can be intimidating.

What are you most excited about (in regards to college, Columbia, NYC, etc)?

Not being bored.

The people. I came from a town where I never had a class with anyone who was Asian, Hispanic, etc.; I was the darkest-skinned person in classes. After doing diversity programs, I realized I loved genuinely learning from people of other backgrounds.

I am about to live on Broadway [plays/musicals]. I cannot imagine a better school for this. I really want to be a tour guide. I love this school so much and I want to show everyone else how amazing is. I low key convinced 10 people in the Class of 2020 to choose this school over others and I played off all of Columbia’s positives. I am still in awe of this dream place.

Any goals you have in mind? 

My biggest goal is to develop quantum computer algorithms that benefit the research aspect (like math could be used by this) but also for medical informatics. These could help with cancer research to compile more data and that would be really cool to work on. Applying it to an area that needs it rather than just building them for the hell of it. So finding the real-life applications for them. I think my dream is to be a professor who does Engineering without Borders (EWB) during the summers and some sound design at theaters between it all. I plan to join EWB on campus and the Columbia Musical Theater Society.

Why Columbia?

I first came down to visit Columbia and then went to Princeton with my friend as a joke to see how pretentious it was. I came in and went to an information session. It was so Columbia College-centric that I left afterwards. I went to the engineering experience first but I came and fell in love with it. I then applied ED and December 10th I was done. I was laughing as I watched all my friends because I was done.

There are a few professors here working on quantum computing here. One of the professors here passed away after I submitted my application, but I am happy there are still people here working on it.

I also love how small SEAS is. That’s really interesting and nice. I see NYC as the second biggest tech hub. What other schools are we competing against for all these opportunities?

Out of curiosity, what is the future of cryptography in your view?

All of our current cryptography will break, but quantum cryptography research is advancing fast. Knowing that this out there and it’s getting better compared to general quantum computing, I think that might save us (at least for now).

Throughout the semester, we’ll be featuring interviews from new students. To recommend someone for an interview or to become an interviewer for The Lion, email team@columbialion.com

Meet Charlotte. Charlotte,  Morningside Heights born and raised, is a first year in Columbia College interested in studying History with a focus on Medieval Studies and Classics. We sat down with her to learn more about her goals while at Columbia and about her current passions.

What is your hometown?

New York, NY in MoHi. It’s going to college from across the street from where you grow up. But it’s interesting navigating a place you’ve known with a student life you’ve never experienced.

What are you current passions? How do you think you’ll pursue them on campus?

I went to LaGuardia to study visual arts. I love all kinds of arts but a lot of photography and graphic design. I might do photography and design for some clubs. I also want to try out theater. I think I also I want to join the ski team on campus. I’m auditioning for CMTS and KCST. And I might visit all the club info sessions. I want to just visit the club fair and learn from there.

Of everything you’ve worked on, volunteered for, and studied, what are you most proud of?

I was editor of my high school literary magazine. I basically did everything because I cared so much about it. When we transitioned from a yearly print to a blog, there was a great controversy (but unlike Blue and White, there wasn’t a divide). Being on people to create content, doing interviews, and dealing with a school that doesn’t care at times. Being able to find a club and get a position of power where you could go for it that I now cannot control and seeing that grow.

What are you interested in studying here? Why?

My intended degree is in history with a concentration with medieval studies and classics. I’ll be in school for a while. I want to be a historian, write books, and spend all of my time reading about christianization, paganism, and vikings, etc.

I became interested in it from two roads. One was mythology. I remembered asking my dad to teach me Latin because it seemed so cool. Now I’m taking Latin this semester because I want a more thorough understanding.  In terms of Greek and Roman mythology, Ajax has been my homie since 4th grade. I studied mythology from around the world and folklore. Really all of these stories. I went through  a lot of career ideas and a few ideas of what I wanted to with my career. I at one point wanted to do fashion and then looked at it and realized I’d be a walking panic attack.

I considered medicine and neuroscience and realized I didn’t want to do medical school. I then realized that my dad’s job as a historian was being a professional nerd. And then I realized that’s exactly what I wanted to be. My dad’s a historian and my mom’s an art historian so we’re quite a nerdy family.

This semester, I’m taking a lot of classics classes. I really want to take one called History of Cold. There’s a class about vampires. There’s a medieval Latin class and then all the graduate history classes.

What are you most nervous/anxious about (in regards to college, Columbia, NYC, etc)?

One thing I want to see is how my relationship with my neighborhood evolves. I’m in a new context in the exact same place. I want to see if I succumb to the Columbia bubble. I don’t know how permanent by desire to leave to other neighborhood changes. Will Westside seem like it’s too far in a few weeks? I hope not.

I also worry at times about finding your best friend in college. I’m already meeting people I like now so I’m getting less worried about that thankfully.

What are you most excited about (in regards to college, Columbia, NYC, etc)?

Everything. One of the best things about Columbia is the amount of opportunities. It’s all free (after tuition and selling your soul to FAFSA). I moved across the street and now can walk into Avery and look in the ancient art archives with my friends. There’s so many internships and having a .columbia.edu address opens a lot of doors. Everyone I talk to here is so interesting. It’s overwhelming how much stuff there is to do. I’m excited for such a packed schedule and to explore all of these opportunities.

Any goals you have in mind? 

  • I want to write a senior thesis.
  • I want to make use of the rare books and manuscripts library for said thesis.
  • I want to get really invested in a club or two, like I was in high school. I want to pour my heart and soul into something. If I become a columnist, I want to be able to get really invested in something worthwhile.
Throughout the semester, we’ll be featuring interviews from new students. To recommend someone for an interview or to become an interviewer for The Lion, email team@columbialion.com

As part of our elections coverage, The Lion is sharing responses from candidates about the following questions:

  1. What motivated you to run for this position?
  2. If elected, what would your goals be?
  3. What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?
  4. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Below, you can find the candidate(s)’s unfiltered responses to help in deciding who you choose to vote for.

What motivated you to run for this position? 

Two main reasons: First, I have genuine need to help people, especially if there is some connection among us. That is obviously the case with SEAS 2020 students. Although we’ve only been together for a month, this is our family for the next four years of our lives. I want to be there for each and every one of them whenever they need help with an issue, have an idea, or simply want a friend to talk to—and make their freshman year the best experience. Second, I was president of my school’s student council, a very interesting experience where I design a whole new structure for the council that ended up being a success throughout the year. I knew from the start I wanted to be part of the council here at Columbia.

If elected, what would your goals be?

We want our class to shine. For that, we want to organize activities as the TedX SEAS 2020 talk and the information sessions of our major, current world engineering issues and facilities with Columbia in order to start building our path toward our future. We want to hear our class’ voices. The idea is to establish an active and personalized interaction with each student, listening to their ideas and concerns. Also, we dream about a much intimate relationship within the engineering class. Coming from a school where our class was as big as 31 people, I’m used to know everyone around me. Our SEAS class is about 10 times that number, but it is still my goal to make that family bond among us: get more involved with people within their field of study and with similar interests outside engineering.

What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?

Going back to the part of communication, I feel there is an incredible gap in the matter that might make the Columbia experience a little less enjoyable. In the debate today a party member said it was only “ideal” to establish a one-to-one relationship among engineers. I want to change that perspective and turn it into a reality. To address it, we are going to encourage all engineers to attend to our activities, we will be sending personal emails and having one-to-one conversations all year round, the SEAS lounge is also part of the plan. If the idea is getting to know each other, then that is the way!

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

I would like to say that, beyond our platform, is extremely important who you’re voting for. Plans can be repeated and shared from platform to platform, but the essence, identity and experience of a person cannot be mirrored on someone else. With that in mind, I would like to introduce myself a little more: I’m a very energetic, caring and joyful person with a constant positive attitude over whatever problem, regardless of the gravity. When I promise something, I will give every single part of me to fulfill it, with absolute dedication and, above all, love. I’m running for president because I can promise you help, a person you can reach to, a friend. So trust me, vote for E&B and you won’t regret it.

As part of our elections coverage, The Lion is sharing responses from candidates about the following questions:

  1. What motivated you to run for this position?
  2. If elected, what would your goals be?
  3. What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?
  4. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Below, you can find the candidate(s)’s unfiltered responses to help in deciding who you choose to vote for.

What motivated you to run for this position? 

I am a problem solver. I can’t stop myself from noticing the malfunctioning systems, unaddressed problems and subjects open to improvements. As the only sophomore running for this position, I want to bring change that will improve mine and my peers’ experience at Columbia.

Last year I went to a Bacchanal that was threatened multiple times by having an extremely divided configuration and then by last-minute security charges. I have learned that Columbia’s student journalists can face disciplinary action while covering a protest on campus. I saw that the Mathematics Building is completely inaccessible for differently able students, and many other buildings, namely Havemeyer, Uris, Earl, Philosophy, East Campus, Law Library, and Low Library can’t be accessed from their main entrances. As an engineer, I experienced the difficulties of being advised by an advisor who does not have an engineering background. I experienced the horror of seeing the Columbia Global Office at Istanbul being shut down without listening opinions of hundreds of Turkish alumni, dozens of Turkish Students, or our Association of Columbia Turkish Students.

Oppressiveness over press, inaccessibility, misguidance, and the threat to our diverse global outreach are not what engineers at Columbia deserve; they do not represent the truly free, sociable, supportive, and diverse nature of Columbia. Engineers provide solutions to problems. As an Industrial Engineer, I decided to run Senator of SEAS to seek the optimal solutions to our problems & weaknesses.

If elected, what would your goals be?

I will start with the most immediate & concrete solutions. First, I will provide a route for students with disabilities entering the Math Building so that they can reach the elevator. I will then move on to implement a Call Center for all emergencies for students with disabilities including Text and/or Video Call option for students with hearing disabilities.

Second, I will work to make our entrepreneurs more capable. With CUIT, I will create a platform where entrepreneurs can group together with skilled peers to work on their startups. I would aim to create a student government that supports our entrepreneurs by connecting them to Venture Capitalists to have guidance from start to finish on their work.

Third, I want our Engineers to be more relaxed while selecting classes and feel more supported on their academics. I will make sure SEAS students’ advisors either have an engineering background or are specialized in engineering. I will also work to establish relaxed connections between engineers from three lower class years. Pairing first years with sophomores based on academic interest, and matching sophomores with juniors with same intended major, freshmen can receive in-depth tips for balancing social life with academics whereas sophomores can get insights on internship research and challenges of their major.

As an International Student, I feel responsible to advocate for international students so that their voices are heard on campus and by the Office of Global Programs and Fellowships. I want to make sure the opinions of cultural clubs are respected when a decision about a nation’s Global Office or study/work abroad program is given. I ultimately want to expand the Global Outreach of Columbia with the support of International Students.

Additionally, I want to protect student journalists from facing disciplinary action while covering protests by making a change in the Rules of Conduct. I want to improve Bacchanal by allocating security payments to Student Government Facilities Fund and Administration while giving the Bacchanal Committee a budget to use solely use on bringing the best artist and working on staging without the fear of security payments. Also, I plan to hold multiple Town Hall meetings, possibly with the participation of all Senators to get feedback from students. If elected, I also will make sure the Senate reports quarterly on its effort of addressing the results of Quality of Life Survey.

What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?

 I want SEAS students to have much less stressful lives by having less dense midterm schedules. I plan to do this by working with the Education Committee. I hope to make sure engineers are not responsible of entering more than 3 exams within 48 hours.

Targeted advising to engineers will also contribute to their comfort. I will work with CSA to make sure advisors of engineers can provide in-depth information on classes engineers must take for their majors & minors. In-depth information, in my opinion, must include workload of classes as well as what topics they teach. This will ease the add-drop periods of all engineers as they will have an idea on how many classes they can juggle.

Lastly, with SEAS Peer Connection, freshmen SEAS students can get information on balancing social life and academics from their sophomore pair. Sophomore engineers can have an earlier insight on difficulties of their major as well as internship//job research with the advice their junior pair provides.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

 By implementing my goals above and the rest which you can find at (http://izzetkebudi.wixsite.com/kebudi2016), I plan to improve our campus accessibility. I want to make sure our student journalists feel free while pursuing their simple duties of being press; this is a must at Columbia University, which is responsible of providing a progressive environment to its students. I want our entrepreneurs & engineers to be more capable when innovating, which could ultimately increase the number of successful startups rooting at our university. When it comes to academic change at Columbia, I want our engineers to have much less stressful lives, especially when they are selecting their classes for the next term. If elected, my goals will hopefully make Bacchanal much more entertaining as the capacity of the event will be higher and the artists will be selected by a more specialized Bacchanal Committee.

All of these can be done while I provide a much needed international voice to the student government of Columbia University as the only international candidate for ESC Senator.

Meet Katie Meili. Meili, a Columbia College alumna and competitive swimmer hails from Colleyville, Texas. This past summer, Meili won a gold medal for swimming the preliminary heats of the 4 x 100 relay and a bronze medal in the 100 meter breast stroke at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We sat down with her to learn more about her background in swimming and how her time at Columbia has influenced her athletic career.

How did you originally get involved with swimming?

I started competitive swimming when I was 8. My older sister, Maureen, and I both did gymnastics but she had a bad ankle injury when she was 13 and I was 8. Her doctor suggested swimming for physical therapy and since I wanted to do everything my sister did, my mom signed us both up for the summer league swim team. The rest is history!
Did your time at Columbia impact how you swim?
Absolutely! I always say that I would not be the swimmer I am if I had not attended Columbia. Columbia made me into the person I am and I so loved and appreciated my time there. Swimming at Columbia set me on the path I needed to be on to get to where I am now. I met all the people I needed to meet, especially my coaches at Columbia – Diana Caskey and Michael Sabala, and I interacted with the sport the way I needed to – with joy and appreciation. My time at Columbia didn’t just impact the way I swim now, it created everything!
How do you clear your mind/focus before you compete in a race?
Before I race, I like my mind to be completely clear. When I step up on the blocks, I tell myself that all the work has been done and that my body knows how to accomplish the task at hand. I get to turn my brain off and race completely free. It’s an amazing feeling!
What were you most excited about getting ready for Rio? What was life in the Olympic Village and the Games Like?
I was most excited for small things that hold a big meaning to me personally. Wearing my Ralph Lauren opening ceremonies outfit (something I have wanted to have since I was a young girl); getting my American flag cap with my name on it; swimming in a pool with the Olympic Rings hanging above it. Those are the things that make you take a step back and think, “Wow, I actually made it here”, and those small moments are my favorite.
Life in the Olympic Village was amazing! I loved seeing and meeting people from all over the world, and getting to see a glimpse of their cultures and customs. To me, the Olympics are about the World coming together in a peaceful way to celebrate our similarities and our differences as human beings. It’s a beautiful event that holds significance in every culture in the World. It’s unique and important and I could feel that power everywhere.
How did you react/feel upon realizing you medaled in two different events?
I was so full of joy! I always dreamed of going to the Olympics and winning a medal but I never actually thought it would happen. It’s impossible to put in words what it feels like to have a dream of that magnitude come true. I smile every time I hold my medals in my hands. They mean so much to me… hard work and sacrifice, but also all the people that helped me along the way (and there are SO many). Those medals belong to my family, friends, teammates, coaches, and supporters just as much as they belong to me.
Do you think you will be swimming in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics? 
I have not made a final decision on Tokyo yet. Right now, I’m just enjoying the experience from Rio!
What was the greatest challenge you faced as a swimmer?
When you’re trying to be the best in the World at something by the smallest of margins, you have to have an extreme sense on non-complacency. Every day in practice, you have to want to be better, do more, try harder, etc. Even when you do something great, you have to have the attitude that it’s not quite good enough and that you still need to improve. That kind of attitude and approach is necessary for any type of success, but too much of it can get exhausting and can be detrimental. For me, finding the right balance to use that attitude to my advantage was the greatest challenge I faced swimming at this level.
What advice would you give to current student athletes?
Stay focused and if you have a dream or a goal, even if it seems out of reach, don’t be afraid to chase it. Ask for help along the way!
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Interested in interviewing students and alumni about how their time at Columbia has shaped their experiences and outlook? Join The Lion Profiles team by sending an email to team@columbialion.com.