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Senior Profiles: Rozanne Gooding Silverwood

With graduation on the horizon, the Lion reached out to seniors to hear their thoughts. Here is what Rozanne–a senior who is graduating from the School of General Studies with a degree in Anthropology–had to say.

What are you passionate about, and how has Columbia helped you find these passions?

My mother was a genealogist and avid collector of family photos and memorabilia, and so perhaps I get my obsession with family history from her. Before Columbia University I had always chalked up that interest to nostalgia. But my study of anthropology helped me see that my interest in family lineage and archival material, such as old photographs, letters, family Bibles, newspaper clippings, etc., actually serves my deeper passion for storytelling and narrative. During my time at Columbia I learned how to locate the internal logic of archival material and discover how documents can tell a narrative about the past while simultaneously opening up meaning concerning the cultural patterns enacted in present day relationships.

If you could re-experience one thing you did during your time at Columbia, what would it be and why?

The Anthropology Senior Thesis class was by far one of the most rigorous and time-intensive classes of any I have taken at Columbia. But I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Certainly I came away with valuable research skills and increased confidence in my ability to write under pressure. But above all, I learned what it is like to work as colleagues with my professors, preceptors and classmates. Offering and receiving feedback and gaining an appreciation of the personal investment that each of us had in our work built a tremendous level of trust that I have since found difficult to replicate.

What is your least favorite thing about humanity?

So many of us think that we have a key to solving someone else’s personal problems. We may not say it out loud, but you can hear the judgment in statements like, “If that person would only…” or “If it were me, I would…” Chances are that there are hidden histories and relationships attached to any one person’s personal struggles.

If you were a Columbia library, which one would you be and why?

Butler Library. Because it’s haunted and naturally, as an anthropologist I’ve always had a thing for ghosts.

What advice do you have for the incoming class?

The best advice that I received was to find excuses to regularly visit my deans or to go to my professors’ office hours and let them know what was going on in my life. I did not expect to become best friends; in fact, I always made a point of addressing them as Dean or Professor to indicate that I respected the boundaries of our relationship. Still I think it’s important for our deans and professors to be reminded that students are human. I was often surprised at their compassion as well as their knowledge of specific resources that helped me manage my situation. Also, take a class with Professor Thomas Roma, especially if you are not majoring in visual arts. He will alter your entire perspective on learning and life.

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