Class of 2020 Core Reflections
“We were and are a special class. We are resilient even as we have been made to handle far more than we thought we could.”
- Senior Class President James Ritchie CC’20 during Columbia College’s first Virtual Class Day on May 19.
It would be hard to argue with Ritchie’s sentiment; no other College Class has been forced to vacate campus three-quarters of the way through their final year, abandoning highly-anticipated Senior year traditions for classes over Zoom and virtual gatherings with classmates turned lifelong friends. Dean James J. Valentini also spoke to the unmatched experience of the Class of 2020 with words that surely rings true for College alumni of all years. “Your entire Columbia College experience was unprecedented because it was an experience unique to each of you, full of discoveries, knowledge, experiences, people and most importantly, a new sense of all the possibilities held within each of you.”
Just as it has for generations of College graduates, the Core Curriculum served as one such tool for the unique discoveries and experiences of the Class of 2020. Continue reading to hear members of the 2020 class describe in their own words what the Core meant to them.
What will I appreciate most about my College experience? The Core. My worldview will forever be ambiguous and double-sided. But in the end, that’s Good.
- Caroline Lee-Jeong
The Core taught me how to think outside my insular perspective and see the world through my peers’ eyes. Before Columbia, many of my peers and I shared similar outlooks on life as our experiences and upbringing were relatively the same. Columbia, however, exposed me to a wide range of people hailing from all around the globe, with different cultures, hobbies, and faiths than mine. This holistic introduction to diversity on a scale I had never gotten the opportunity to experience before was deeply transformative in my academic endeavors and personal development.
I’m grateful for the Core: it has taught me to evaluate both historical and contemporary works and issues through a multitude of perspectives. There is really no greater gift than critical thinking, and I employ it every day, whether in reading a news article or making a seemingly insignificant decision.
Lit Hum taught me how to turn reading assignments into deeply personal explorations.
I appreciate the Core for igniting my interest in unexpected subjects, and giving me a more nuanced, multifaceted way of looking at the world.
From an academic perspective, I am thankful for the Core Curriculum and those whose classrooms I was a part of. I’ve never been more confused and fascinated at the same time than I was by one Friedrich Nietzsche. Let’s be honest—learning philosophy teaches us not only how to use words for good, but also how to weaponize and manipulate language. I hope to use words for good in the future after learning their dual capabilities. I’m incredibly thankful for my Core professors as well, whom turned these antiquated, abstract writings into arable land for deep, emotional discussion. I was always most fascinated not by what I read, but by how my professor and classmates derived different meaning from the same assemblage of text. I gained some incredible perspective from these discussions.
The Core Curriculum was a large part of what drew me to Columbia, and now that I have completed it, I can say that it was without a doubt the defining feature of my academic experience.
Literature Humanities was my first real introduction to classical texts, and I was surprised by how moved I was by poems and plays that had been written over a thousand years ago, especially the Iliad and the Oresteia. I think reading these works gave me deeper insight into human nature. Nothing has really changed, and in a way, that is comforting.
Contemporary Civilization gave me new frameworks for seeing society and government. It also made me rethink a lot of my assumptions about the best way to govern or structure a nation. CC made me realize for the first time how much I had taken for granted in how I saw the world and gave me the tools to question why things are the way they are.
I am an evangelist of the Core Curriculum! I believe I am a more critical and compassionate person because of it. I truly believe that taking some version of the Core Curriculum is one of the best things you can do in your life, especially at this age, the start of adulthood.